Posted: March 15, 2018

Good nutrition is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially if you are ill and receiving care in hospital.

Grand River Hospital has 74 nutrition and food services staff members who provide approximately 1,300 meals a day to our patients at our KW and Freeport campuses. Karen Gosine, an administrative dietitian, ensures that our patients receive nutritious meals and custom food selections to meet their dietary needs.  Although most patients will never meet these people, our nutrition and food services staff members are dedicated to supporting patient healing and recovery through good nutrition.

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Karen Gosine, administrative dietitian at GRH

1. Can you tell me a little bit about the work you do as an administrative dietitian? How does your work support our patients during their hospital stay?

My primary responsibility is to manage patient menus. This includes looking for new foods to add to the menu and making improvements to current menus and diets offered to patients. I analyze the nutritional values of our diets to ensure we are meeting the nutritional needs of our patients. I also provide support to our dietetic technicians who not only operate the diet office, which ensures our patients get fed, but also provide high quality nutrition care to our inpatient units. Finally, as a required rotation for the dietetic internship program, we are privileged to help equip four future registered dietitians each year.

2. There is an ever growing population of patients with dietary restrictions. How does GRH keep up with catering to individual needs while a patient is hospitalized?

We monitor the needs of our patients closely. Our diet technicians customize diets to individual needs and preferences on an ongoing basis. As we see continuing trends in patient dietary restrictions we build new or revise current menus to better meet their complex needs. GRH provides many diets restricting items such as gluten, dairy, soy, sulfates, MSG etc. Recently we have added four new muffins to our menu which are vegan, dairy, soy and nut free to meet patient needs. Overall GRH uses around 100 diets to cater to our community.

3. Where do we source foods to serve this patient population?

GRH participates in a group purchasing program which provides the bulk of our food. We have also developed partnerships with several local, family owned companies to meet some of our specialty needs and to formulate foods specifically for GRH. Growing these partnerships and searching for innovative specialty food products is crucial for continuing to meet our patients ever changing dietary needs.

4. Approximately how many patients do we serve each day with dietary restrictions?

Currently, about 33 per cent of patients are on regular diets that do not require modification of some kind. That means 67 per cent of patients are on diets that are modified for therapeutic reasons, texture and consistency, allergies, etc.

5. How do our menus change seasonally?

During the summer months GRH adds local seasonal fruit to the lunch menus. We had excellent longevity on watermelon last summer and were able to provide this to our patients. Patients are delighted to have fresh strawberries, peaches and plums each summer as well. The colder months present more of a challenge for local seasonal food and we focus on classic comfort foods instead. You should try our delicious in-house prepared beef stew made with local root vegetables and local beef! 

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