>> Monday, November 9, 2009
Hospital Nutrition - an oxymoron?
Our family has not had much experience with hospitals, for which we count our blessings. We've luckily never gotten in any accident that required surgery and we've always followed fairly to very good guidelines when it comes to food and exercise. Fear, I suppose, drove us to have our children at the hospital. That "what if" question really got a hold of us. I hear tell now that the homebirth trend is growing, especially with experienced midwives. But the point of this story is that we were there in the hospital and were able to witness firsthand the healthiness, or lack thereof, of the food served to patients in the hospital.
This was a while ago now since our youngest was two, but it sticks in my memory as if it were yesterday. As I think about what they served us (for they did bring enough for the husband) I have terrible flashbacks to lunchtime at school. The processing and overcooking at hospitals is bad enough that it seemed they were shouting out that they knew nothing about nutrients and organic, natural foods. I recall there being chicken for some of the main courses, but odds are very, very high that they were as processed as chicken breasts can get. That was probably the healthiest of the food selection. There were green beans that were either canned or cooked so much there could not have been any valuable nutrients left. There were apple sauce- and pudding-cups. Skim milk and coffee. Overall, you may as well have been getting prison food - except that prisoners probably eat healthier than that.
Thankfully there was an organic deli and grocery a couple of blocks away from the hospital, so that I could actually go buy some real food. When I returned I met with the nutritionist at the hospital to complain, but it turns out that regardless of her knowledge, she was actually unable to change much in what they served to patients; the decisions were based on contracts and thus mostly out of her hands. It all comes back to that, doesn't it? It's all driven by how much profit can be made for the business, regardless of the end-user's best interest.
A Hospital Lacking in Cleanliness
Medications were not given on time and her husband was in constant pain as it turned out that he was having an allergic reaction to what they were giving him. The doctor and nurse were aware of this reaction, but decided to go ahead with their planned medication rather than attempt any different ones. Only upon Alice's demanding did the nurse call to change the treatment.
The doctor never came to see her husband before he was released, and Alice found, upon asking about it, that the nurse rudely - to the point of being nasty about it - stated that the doctor had indeed been in twice to see him. Alice's husband hadn't slept a wink the whole time he was there, and would have remembered the doctor's visit.
I'm sure there must be good hospital experiences that people have had out there, and in fact I'd hope there are. But from what I've seen, when a person goes to a hospital, they become a number, placed in a soulless room, fed under-nourishing food, and sent home with a bill that's too embarrassingly large to even think about. This is not the description of a place where one feels safe and well, and are sent home with drugs and stress-laden bills.
A friend of mine says that it depends on the hospital, and the doctors and nurses within it. I can understand that like life you're going to find a lot of good and a lot of bad together in a lot of places. Naturally, stories related to hospital experiences are going to be filled with hope, frustration, caring, anger, love, sadness, and a whole host of other emotions. I write about this topic knowing I have little real-world direct knowledge to base a judgement on, but my experiences all lead me to distrust practitioners who have been taught that their way is the only way to do something, who refuse to open their minds to learn new things, or display a learned ignorance toward things that to me are common sense.