Studying a Possible Treatment to Alzheimer's
By Mark Couch
(November 2013) Janine Higgins
Higgins earned her
Q: What is the Healthy Hospital Initiative?
A: The Healthy Hospital Initiative is a program at Children’s Hospital that aims to improve the health and wellness of patients, their families, visitors
Q: Where do the guidelines come from?
A: The nutrition guidelines are from the Centers for Disease Control. Some of the guidelines, like reducing or eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages, come from the national Children’s Hospital Association.
Q: Eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages seems to be a big reach. Tell me about that process.
A: The initial step was the placement of water from the back of the cafeteria to the point of sale, right near the cash registers and placing water bottles in all the vending machines at eye level.
Q: You’re serving a broad population, not just the employees of the hospital. You’re serving the patients and their families and anybody else on campus. Does that make it harder to implement the Healthy Hospitals Initiative?
A: What we did from the CCTSI Nutrition Core was donate
Q: What kind of food is served?
A: We used to have a pasta station in the cafeteria and it was renamed the Light Side Bistro, which is where you can get a meal every day that meets or exceeds the CDC guidelines. Before we got involved, it started off being all salads and rice and pasta dishes. It was basically a very iterative process that looks at what sells, making sure we get a big range of proteins, of cuisines from around the world. We’ve got Moroccan food; we’ve got Middle Eastern; we’ve got Asian; we’ve got American classics, turkey sloppy Joes; and we also added a soup to our soup bar each day that is a light and healthy soup
A: We all go out at the end of the day and take with us what we learned and did during the day, so if you come and realize you can have fish and pork and beef as part of a healthy balanced diet and you can do it in a low-calorie, low-sodium way, this is an
Q: Can you explain the signs at the serving stations with the green and yellow dots on them?
A: It’s the stoplight system. We have signs around the cafeteria telling you what it means. Foods that meet all the CDC guidelines are labeled with a green dot, and green means go for it. Things that meet most of the guidelines, but might be higher in saturated fat or higher in sodium are labeled with a yellow dot, which means approach with caution. It’s not that you shouldn’t eat it, you just don’t want to go and eat only that all day every day. We haven’t really labeled red dots, but red dots
Q: What if I don’t see any dots?
A: It’s probably red. The french fries and onion rings are red. They don’t have dots.
Q: Why not just eliminate the unhealthier options?
A: At the end of the day, we’re a hospital. We are not a regular work-place. There are people here who are sick. There are children who are critically ill who have families who may need comfort food at that time. We have children here who are in recovery after surgery, who have complications, who aren’t eating very much and don’t have good appetites, and that day, they might feel like french fries. The Healthy Hospital Initiative isn’t about telling you what food you have to eat. It’s about your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. And sometimes for your mental and spiritual well-being, when you’re in a very emotionally tough situation in a hospital, you might need some-thing that we wouldn’t consider a green-dot food. And that’s OK.
Q: You and your team volunteered for this effort. How does this all tie back to what you get paid to do for the university?
A: The CCTSI’s mission is to facilitate clinical research, and speed the translation from bench to bedside. We educate and train future scientists and physicians, but we also take these ideals of health and what we learn in our clinical research out in to the community. We are being good citizens to Children’s Hospital. We work here. We want this to be the healthiest, best place for everybody to work.