HLC Adds Color And Warmth To Healthcare Dining

Hospitals can suffer from an overabundance of white. White paint on the walls, white tile floors, white bedsheets, towels, and gowns, even white dinner plates. Sadly, a color that is supposed to signify cleanliness and health also conjures up sterility and an institutional feel that can leave patients and visitors feeling cold.

Homer Laughlin and Hall China have never been afraid to embrace color, and more healthcare facilities are realizing they can dump the plain for the rainbow offered by HLC. At the same time, they’re learning other valuable benefits of HLC’s quality and craftsmanship, which can more than stand up to daily meal service.

Karen Freeman is one such convert. She is a registered dietician and the food service director of St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California, a 320-bed facility that has served Southern California for nearly 60 years. Freeman wanted to break up the monotony of white by introducing color to the plates used for in-room dining. She was initially inspired by research that shows colorful dinnerware can help Alzheimer’s patients get the nutrition they need (because food often gets “lost” on a white plate for these patients). Although not strictly dedicated to Alzheimer’s patients, St. Jude does serve many elderly, and Freeman thought brightening up the dining experience would be good for patients of all ages, too.

“Our old, white plates were not only boring, they chipped easily and the glaze would start to wear off, making it appear the plates were always dirty,” said Freeman. HLC products, meanwhile, deliver elegance and beauty plus the strength to resist chipping, crazing, scratching, and breaking.

She decided to replace the failing ware with a mix of Homer Laughlin and Hall China product. Fiesta® plates in Lemongrass (a yellow shade), poppy, and paprika (both shades of red). As complements, Freeman also added the Hall China 8-oz. bowl in Sunflower for macaroni and cheese, pastas, and stir-fries, 5-oz. ivory serveware for poached eggs, and 9-oz ivory serveware for miscellaneous other dishes.

In addition to brightening up the dining experience, Freeman noticed two other big benefits—an overall cost savings and higher food satisfaction scores.

“The overall cost of ownership is so much lower even though the cost per until was slightly higher,” said Freeman. “This is because our replacement costs have dropped significantly since we’ve switched to Homer and Hall. This ware just doesn’t need to be replaced as often. It’s stronger, sturdier, and has a high-quality glaze that doesn’t wear off with repeated washing.”

The higher food satisfaction scores are partly due to the ware’s incredible heat-retention properties. “We’ve had plates returned to the kitchen 90 minutes later and they’re still warm to the touch,” said Freeman. “They fit our standard pellet system and retain that heat beyond anything we’ve ever experienced before, well after the cover is removed.” She adds that the colors have also given kitchen staff some options when it comes to plating. “Some like putting a burger on Lemongrass, where others swear by salmon on Poppy. It gets the staff excited about their work.”

Patients and their families have taken notice, too, commenting on how much homier mealtime feels. “When you open the dome and it’s not just a white plate, you don’t feel like you’re in a hospital,” said Freeman. “It seems like a little thing, but it can make a big difference. We love it.”


November 2019


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