In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

November 30, 2017

Candlelit, Baseball-Themed Meal Breaks Up Patient’s Long Hospital Stay

By In the Loop

Chefs from Morrison Healthcare recently pulled out all the stops to prepare a special baseball-themed candlelight dinner for one Mayo Clinic patient and his wife during this year’s World Series.

The patient was growing more frustrated by the day. Complications kept him confined to a hospital room. His care team stepped up to the plate in a big way.  

The patient was growing more frustrated by the day. A steady stream of complications had kept him confined to his hospital room at Mayo Clinic longer than he'd hoped. One of those complications was culinary. "He couldn't eat for quite some time," Joan Vruwink, a clinical dietitian and part of the patient's care team, tells us. "We eventually got that resolved, but he was still very frustrated."

So one day during rounds, the patient's care team started brainstorming ways they could help heal their patient's emotional distress. "One of the things we started talking about was whether our Food Service colleagues here at Mayo would be able to provide something special for the patient and his wife," Vruwink tells us. "His wife had been bringing in food just for a change of pace. So I thought maybe there was something we could do for him so that she could have a break as well."

That was all Morrison Executive Chef Jonathan Lien and his Food Service colleagues needed to hear. "As soon as Joan told us that she thought a special dinner might help brighten the patient's spirits, another executive chef and I went to work on putting together a couple of menu ideas and then went up to present them to the patient and his wife," Lien tells us.

It didn't take the patient long to place his order. "He stopped reading the menu as soon as he saw we had a steak and shrimp surf-and-turf-style," Lien tells us

After Lien asked the couple when they'd like to have their special meal, the menu got a little bigger. "They said, 'Well, there's another game on TV on Friday night,'" he tells us. "They're big baseball fans and this was during this year's World Series, so we also put together a few ballpark-themed treats for them." Treats like caramel corn (a crackerjack idea), a package of Big League Chew bubble gum, and of course, peanuts. "I also found them a bottle of sparkling grape juice because I thought that might be fun," Lien says.

When it came time to present their culinary creations, Lien and team (ahem) knocked it out of the park there, too. "We got an electric candle and tried to dress things up for them a little," he says. "We also brought up a tablecloth and the good china, and did a nice table setting for them. It was pretty special."

More special for whom, we're not quite sure. "I think they were a little overwhelmed at first, but I know they appreciated everything," Lien tells us. "It was really special for us, too, because we don't get to do something like this very often."

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Tags: Food Services, Nutrition, Patient Stories

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