Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Madonna’s kitchen fuels hope and healing for patients amid Thanksgiving preparations

November 18, 2021

Thanksgiving is a time to count your blessings. At Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals, every day is a bit like Thanksgiving. First, many Madonna patients are grateful to be on the road to recovery and one step closer to going home after a serious injury or illness. Secondly, there’s the food. Our kitchen staff at Madonna prepares an astonishing amount of food each day for our patients—approximately 1,400 daily meals across both campuses, to be exact—that rivals a Thanksgiving feast.

Making these meals each day is no easy task, especially when one considers the dietary needs of an individual patient.

“A majority of patients are prescribed diets that include modifications to nutrients as well as texture and consistency,” Jennifer Luhn, Madonna’s director of food and nutrition services and a registered dietitian, said. “Our meals are the outcome of a deliberate, meaningful balance of patient preference and meeting [the health care] provider orders to maximize outcomes.”

Not surprisingly, technology plays a role in meal planning at Madonna. Both campuses rely on a diet management software system that interfaces with a patient’s electronic medical record to ensure meal delivery is scheduled around medication administration and patient therapy. Meanwhile, Madonna’s nutrition technicians also collect menus at the bedside, answer ingredient-related questions and guide patients toward food items to help fuel their recovery while also considering a patient’s personal preferences. The result of this intricate process is full stomachs and happy patients.

“We work hard to make food services look easy,” Luhn said. “Lincoln and Omaha’s campus meal satisfaction scores consistently meets or exceed the goal of 85% of patients being satisfied with the food services received.”

This year, Luhn and her kitchen staff are set to prepare more than 1,125 Thanksgiving meals across both Madonna campuses. And while every day at Madonna may feel like Thanksgiving, many kitchen staff members are honored to be a part of a patient’s holiday plans and eventual recovery.

“I’m thankful that I can be a part of their holiday,” Samira Deronjic, a Madonna food services assistant, said. “It’s rewarding to be able to provide them with a Thanksgiving meal.”