WorkHealthy Hospital Spotlight features Stillwater Medical Center

Posted on: 4/19/19

In the fast-paced environment of health care, the best meal option for employees is typically the food offered at the hospital in which they work. Sometimes this means food offered in a cafeteria and sometimes it means vending machines or snack bars. The WorkHealthy Hospitals (WHH) initiative, a grant program of TSET, works with hospitals to ensure that healthy food is offered to employees regardless of what food venues are present. Stillwater Medical Center (SMC) is the next hospital to be featured in the regular WorkHealthy Hospital Spotlight series, because of their innovative approach to removing barriers for employees to eat healthy.

What sets them apart…

When the SMC wellness team started WHH, they began looking at ways to improve their hospital’s food environment, which is a recognized Certified Healthy Restaurant. Their goal was to increase employee and visitor access to healthy food and promote their healthy food options. Ultimately, their team came up with a weekly Try It Tuesday lunch to showcase unique healthy options at the lowest price in the cafeteria.

The SMC culinary department uses their creative expertise to create meals that aren’t the standard healthy substitutions. Sometimes this food is something that people may have never heard of before or something that is not typically served in a hospital cafeteria (see example below). On each Try It Tuesday, SMC advertises the featured entrée on their intranet in addition to offering free samples and recipe cards for anyone visiting the cafeteria. They also present a salad option and a healthier dessert option. It has been a popular feature in the hospital, driving around 50 additional customers to the cafeteria on Try It Tuesday versus other days of the week.

The Try It Tuesday entrée comes at a cost of $3.50, with employees receiving an additional 40% off that price. “That day is not about making a profit,” says Michelle Axtell, director of nutritional services at SMC. “It’s about the experience and exposure to healthy foods. If it goes well, we add it to the regular menu and offer it at a regular price.”

In addition to the popular Try It Tuesday, the cafeteria removes obstacles for employees and visitors to enjoy trending healthy specialty food and beverage items. Using United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) services, SMC is able to provide natural and organic options that are not regular hospital cafeteria items. Axtell notes that even when the product is more expensive, people are willing to pay for these items that are “beyond pop and chips” because they are happy to have it available in their workplace.   

For information on the WorkHealthy Hospitals initiative, contact Sydney Tomlinson, OHA health improvement initiatives specialist, (405) 427-9537, (Sydney Tomlinson)