Some Bay Area Hospitals Add Ethnic Dishes to Menus To Appeal to Multicultural Patient Population
A number of Bay Area hospitals have started offering "multicultural hospital cuisine" in an effort to be more "sensitive" to local ethnic groups, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Several hospitals now offer a variety of cuisines including Indian, Chinese and Vietnamese. Fu Mei Liang, director of nutrition services at El Camino Hospital, said, "It's hard enough to be in a hospital, and when we don't have foods our patients are familiar with, it just adds to the stress. Our priority is for them to eat and be nourished." In addition to expanding menus, many hospitals have eased restrictions on foods prepared by a patient's family, with a physician's approval, the Mercury News reports. Some hospital dietitians have even ordered take-out when the hospital menu does not appeal to a patient. Cynthia Poole, chief clinical dietitian at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, said, "If someone is very sick and they need to eat, we'll get whatever anybody wants. We're just trying to find whatever they can eat." While some experts see the shift as "smart marketing" by hospital officials, other see it as a change in the way Western medicine views healing. Margie Akin, a medical anthropologist who heads cultural and linguistic services for Molina Healthcare, said, "Traditionally, while other cultures have zeroed in on food and nutrition as part of the healing process, Western medicine has been keyed more toward pharmaceuticals and surgical intervention" (Feder, San Jose Mercury News, 1/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.