Hello, Room Service. BMC patients now order meals hotel-style


PITTSFIELD >> "Hello, Room Service, I'll start with the Mediterranean Salad, New England Scrod for the main course and for dessert, Apple Berry Crisp. How long? Thanks."

Ordering room service from a swank hotel?

Nope. It's one of the numerous lunch and dinner combinations, along with breakfast items, patients can order at Berkshire Medical Center.

Yes, hospital food at the patient's convenience from a menu that could rival many restaurants.

BMC began offering room service dining in January, the food service staff of 70 full- and part-timers dishing out 200-230 meals, three times a day. The institutional food assembly line is a thing of the past at one of the busiest kitchens in Berkshire County.

"The routine is definitely gone," said BMC Dietary Office Supervisor Chris LeClair. "It definitely is more restaurant style."

"Patients get to eat what they want, when they want it," added Roger Knysh, director of dietary services for Berkshire Health Systems, BMC's parent company.

Well, almost anything, anytime.

While breakfast is served all day, lunch and dinner have an 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. window. Patients must stick to what's listed on the colorful, trifold menu and adhere to any dietary restrictions, tracked closely by both food service and medical personnel, via a computer program.

Mary Holt of Lee couldn't let her sweet tooth get her into trouble, even if she tried. The Lee woman has been a BMC patient twice since room service began seven months ago.

"I remember ordering a couple of desserts, but was told I could only have one," she said.

The upgraded menu does allow for plenty of healthier choices.

"I loved having the fruit dish, I had it for two meals,"

Holt and her husband Henry serve on the Berkshire Medical Center Patient and Family Advisory Council. The couple is pleased patients have more of a say over food choices, as one has little control over anything else when laid up in a hospital bed.

"And you don't have to tip the waitress," Mr. Holt quipped.

BMC room service is modeled after a similar program Knysh started up a decade ago at BHS' Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington. With 21 beds, Fairview's room service wasn't as logistically challenging to implement compared to the 300-bed Pittsfield health care facility.

In addition to serving 10 times more meals daily than Fairview, Knysh noted BMC has multiple specialty departments, each with its own patient schedule.

"The coordination is better between the different departments and food service," he said.

The food is brought to each hospital unit within 45 minutes of the room service phone call, each meal costing $7, according to BMC officials.

For several years, the BMC mother-baby unit and most recently the orthopedics unit offered room service before going hospitalwide on Jan. 12.

Mary Holt is glad room service has gone hospitalwide because she got to order one dessert she never makes at home.

"Chocolate brownies — who wants to bake?"

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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