Nurses say hospital snack cuts hurt patient care, plan food drive

MASSILLON, OH (WOIO) - Claiming that cost-cutting moves are lessening patient care, registered nurses from Affinity Medical Center in Massillon are planning a food drive Monday.

They say the move is harmful to patient's health. Michelle Offenberger, RN of the Medical Telemetry Unit, said, "By not providing snacks for our diabetic patients, and now removing much of the snack food from the floor, the hospital puts our patients at risk for dangerously low blood sugars during the night and early morning hours."

Other nurses are reporting that there are delays in medication administration due to a lack of applesauce or pudding, which is used to give medications to patients who need them crushed due to impaired swallowing.

The food drive to replenish supplies will go on at the Affinity Medical Center in Massillon Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nurses plan to be out in force to collect food. Suggested donations include individually wrapped crackers, peanut butter crackers, single serve pudding cups, single serve applesauce cups, small cans of juice or ginger ale.

"Adequate nutrition is a vital part of the healing process and snacks are a source of comfort to our patients who are frequently nauseated or too fatigued to eat an entire meal," explained Sarah Falanga, RN at Affinity's Recovery Unit.

The nurses say that two weeks ago, they were notified by the hospital that in an effort to cut costs, the hospital dietary department would no longer be stocking snacks in patient care units. The new procedure requires that patients who want a snack order them with their meal tray. They call the policy an ill-conceived change that fails to consider patients who are not able to perform meal ordering on their own, patients who are admitted after meal ordering has occurred, and those that may be in a test or procedure during the meal ordering period.

The nurses hope the community will assist them in securing an adequate supply of snacks for patients who are in their care by d ropping off snack items.

Affinity Medical Center released a statement Monday, which read:

Patients at Affinity Medical Center have 24/7 access to nutritious meals and snacks, according to their physician's orders. All necessary patient items are stocked on the floors. In the event something is needed that's not stocked, the Patient Ambassador is contacted and will bring the requested item to the patient. In an effort to provide a more personal touch, we implemented a Patient Ambassador Program in July of 2016. The program provides patients with a personal ambassador each day. Ambassadors are available seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  When an Ambassador is not available, the hospital's nursing coordinators and staff assist with the request.

Affinity Medical Center has worked with physicians, nurses and dieticians to identify wholesome and nourishing food and beverage options, which; ultimately, promote the overall health and wellness for each patient.

In regards to today's food collection efforts -- Affinity Medical Center cannot accept outside food donations. Patient safety is our number one concern; therefore, we will not accept food donations for our patients as these items are not vetted for safety. In addition, the hospital is already supplying all necessary nourishments to the patients we care for. 

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