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CONTRIBUTION · 4th September 2015
Susan Jay
Dear Mr. Cooper,

I am writing to you in regards to the deterioration of the quality of food served at the hospital and long term facilities in Kitimat.

Having been a resident here for 45 years I have had many opportunities with myself (last week being a patient for a knee replacement) and family members to experience and eat the food. A parent stayed in your facility for over a year and I also delivered Meals on Wheels for 7 years. My profession for 33 years was teaching, in that time I had training and had taught in the Home Economics field so I have good knowledge about the goals of the Canada Food rules and the importance of good nutrition to improve and maintain one’s health.

It is easy to be complacent about a negative situation when the end is in sight but there are MANY residents of these facilities in for a very long period of time. On their behalf, I am compelled to urge you to look at this dire situation and do something about it. I was on a committee with Mr. Ernie Archer years ago (2011) when we petitioned the management to address these similar concerns and sadly, things are much worse.

Breakfast menus are acceptable but it is the presentation and very poor cooking process for lunch and dinner that account for incredible waste.

It would be interesting to weigh how much food is left on plates and hence discarded in the garbage. I realize that the budgeting restraints over the years have closed and reduced services provided by the “in hospital” kitchen facilities.

All the main entres have been prepared, cooked elsewhere and then shipped frozen to hospitals in the region. Reheating for some of these items is acceptable but the greatest disgrace and totally unacceptable presentation is in regards to vegetables. Some like spinach, zucchini and yams become “slop” that need to be eaten with a spoon. It does not take a rocket scientist much effort to prepare raw or frozen vegetables for serving.

Over a 6 day period, 3 small celery sticks and 1⁄2 a slice of tomato were the only fresh raw vegetables served to me. Fruit was even worse...half an apple sliced and half a banana. But juice and rich sickly sweet squares were never lacking. Processed juice provides little nutritional value nor do sugary dessert “squares”.

Because I wasn’t a diabetic I was never offered any refreshments from the food cart in the evening. Interestingly, all patients having a surgery like mine are put on heavy antibiotics so I was surprised when several nurses encouraged me to make sure I had probiotics in my diet. I asked if there was any yogurt available ...they said it was only served from the cart to diabetic patients. Yes, I had an outside source BUT what about the others who are in there without family support?

It is easy to criticize but I would be willing to dialogue and meet with you and the food services team to brainstorm for some simple solutions. (The menu selection the patient makes at the beginning of the stay is meaningful but after surgery one doesn’t always have the same appetite.) A simple start would be for the servers to have more interaction with the patient; ask them what piece of fruit, raw vegetables, dessert, milk or juice they might “fancy” for that day. Do they want soup, dessert or a bun with the meal? Food is contaminated once it is in the room so why not allow patients to make these daily choices. Provide a tub on the server’s trolley holding these items so that only the choice selected is provided.

This will reduce the incredible waste. This interaction with a patient promotes a healthy and a much more personal stay in the hospital that is a very positive move in promoting healing.

Very sincerely ...a concerned and pro active citizen:

Susan Jay

PS. I encourage you to eat the meals served your own conclusions!
PG Hospital food
Comment by w franklin on 7th September 2015
not only does the PG Hospital have a cafeteria, they also have a Tim Hortons in the hospital.
NHS meals
Comment by Carlosroberto on 5th September 2015
I have heard that when Northern Health or the hospital hold meetings in Kitimat their lunches are either catered or kitchen staff are ordered to prepare special meals for them. Why can't they eat what patients get? Does the Prince George hospital still have a cafeteria?
Meals at Multilevel
Comment by Cindy Powell on 5th September 2015
I totally agree with Susan Jay. In the last few years I have had 3 family members in your facility. There doesn't seem to be any consideration for individual limitations. Even when you tell them there are issues with swallowing or lack of teeth everyone is getting the same food. The elderly should not have to just eat what is given to them. If you see food left on their plates there is a reason and it's not just because they don't like it.
Hospital food
Comment by Vern on 5th September 2015
This is a good letter and i can only comment on the MLC side as my Mother has been a resident for 3 years now. Over the time my Mom has been in MLC i have seen an improvement in the food. Vegetables and fruit are served with most meals and they have a choice of meals. There are times when the meals look quite nice and i see very little left over on peoples plates, other days the meals are not so great but overall they do listen to family concerns and improvements have been made.

That said there is much room for improvement and letters such as this are very welcome. To me it is a shame that we have a fully equipped kitchen that is used to reheat prepared meals. I can understand the cost involved to run a kitchen but maybe the mains such as meat can be reheated and vegetables prepared on site as some types of vegetables do not reheat well.

To get a feel of the food it may not be a bad idea for the Hospital administration to eat a few of these meals and be open to meeting with people like Susan who may have some good ideas on improving the food.