Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Food! Glorious Hospital Food?

Ok folks, here it is...the LAST hospital post. You may all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

I can't speak for every hospital everywhere, but the Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, MD has absolutely wonderful food. Their cafeteria/food court is one I would visit even if I wasn't staying at the hospital or visiting someone there. I never got the chance, or remembered to ask if they use an outside contractor or run the venue themselves...but it doesn't really matter.

Granted, I guess it depends on what diet you're placed on as a patient. Some sort of mistake was made with my initial check-in from the ER and I was placed on the cardiac diet even tho there was nothing at all wrong with my cardiac system at the time. This meant that my first meal the next morning was less than spectacular. It consisted of oatmeal (which I never eat), skim milk (which I never drink), dry toast (what's the point?) and a tiny bowl of scrambled egg-like product. Heaven help the day I ever have to eat like that! The second my nurse came in I told her we had to get this changed. There was nothing wrong with me that should relegate me to this torture. Not to mention that fact that I had not 2 months ago decided to remove all processed sugar and flour from my diet. It's for sure instant oatmeal and white toast did not fall into that category.

It took all of 10 minutes for the change to be made. Thank you Dr. Palmer! This opened up a world of lavish splendor I never thought possible in a hospital setting. Not even an hour after my diet option had changed than a suited concierge appeared at my door to discuss the menu options for lunch. He explained the hot meal special of the day and if that wasn't what I was in the mood for he had a host of substitutions I could choose from. That day the meal was a French Dip Sandwich with the choice of a salad and dessert options.

Once lunch was served and it was delicious, he then returned mid-afternoon to discuss dinner and breakfast the following morning. I began to feel less like I was staying in a hospital and more like I was at a resort! There was parmesan encrusted chicken breast, omelets with cheese and sausage, meatloaf, delicious juicy cheeseburgers. The options were truly endless. A small part of me wishes I was still there to sample even more menu items. I wish I had taken a picture of each meal as it was revealed to me, but alas, healing was more important. Here is my final meal of the stay.

Not impressive presentation, but D-Lish-Us!
The above is Turkey Slippery Pot-Pie. I was a little wary when the concierge described it, but it was quite yummy and full of flavor.

In addition to the meal service 3 times a day, each evening the nurse would appear at my door with the Late Night menu that I could order a snack from. If you were really hungry, you could order a complete second order of the hot dinner meal for the day. There were also sandwiches, salads, desserts, any kind of chip you could think of, and the hospital's "signature" milkshakes. I wish I would have tried one of the milkshakes, but alas...I really thought I was going to be there one more night and it would be my "going away" indulgence.

They also had a coffee shop in the lobby. The coffee that came with breakfast was your standard drip and that really wasn't up to my liking. On my last day at the hospital there was some confusion regarding my release. First I was leaving then I wasn't then I was again...maybe? So, I had told all my usual "Coffee-Bringing" visitors not to bother coming. About 1pm tho, I was jonesing for my Double Shot Latte so I asked the nurse, "Is it ok if I walk down to the lobby and get a coffee?". I was on "independent mobility" option after all. She stepped into the room and whispered to me, "Well, if you were to disappear from your room momentarily, who am I to say you aren't just walking the hall?...just put on some pants so you're not flashing anyone." Permission Granted! She ended with, "Just don't get caught!"

Yikes, the pressure! How to get all the way down 5 floors without being seen by anyone in a busy hospital? Turns out it was quite easy...just walk like you have a purpose, don't look back, just keep going. I ran into many people on my way downstairs and then again while going back up. Not one questioned me as to why I wasn't on my floor or as to why I was carrying a very large cup of coffee. I was the Ninja with the Open-Backed Gown! (kinda like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo! Ok, maybe not.)

So, if you find yourself having to go to a hospital and you happen to live in the Frederick/Hagerstown area AND it's not a life threatening situation, by all means head to the Meritus Health Center. You won't be sorry you did! When I was at the hospital in Frederick a few weeks ago and asked for some food you'd have thought I was asking them to name a wing after me. Then all I got was a dried out turkey sandwich with no lettuce or condiments. Heck, stop by the Meritus Cafeteria sometime when you're in the area and you will totally see what I mean.

I know a hospital stay isn't all about the food. They are there to save your life and keep you healthy, but while doing so, if you can get some good eats, I say Go For It!

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