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News | April 18, 2022

Mother's Meals make for memorable first dinner

By Brandy Ostanik-Thornton

Bassett Army Community Hospital Nutrition Care Division is aiming to make the first meal, as a family, special for patients who have given birth at the hospital. With the delivery of Mother’s Meals to three patients April 4, three months of planning and research brought the idea to life.

The tradition of Mother’s Meals is not new in military medicine, nor at Bassett ACH but, after a lapse in the program for several years, diet technicians in the department set out to improve the patient experience for new moms with an array of special meal choices.

“This is a very special meal tray that has been thoughtfully prepared by our nutrition care team,” said Col. Alicia Surrey, Medical Department Activity –Alaska deputy commander for nursing. “Our NCD technicians play a vital role in the patient experience, as this is their first meal with the newest member of the family.”

Beginning in January, medical nutrition therapy chief, Staff Sgt. Tracy Smith led his team of diet technicians, comprised of Sgt. Hailjon Zita, Spc. Kristine Garcia, Spc. Kendall Epps and Pvt. 2nd Class Jacob Wallace, through menu development. The process consisted of procuring products and testing recipes for both taste and presentation before deciding on a final menu.

“We wanted each dish to be a little extra,” said 1st Lt. Emily Lauer, Medical Department Activity – Alaska Nutrition Care Division chief. “For example, instead of just sweet potatoes we opted for a loaded sweet potato with marshmallows, pecans and brown sugar.”

The medical nutrition therapy chief and his team to the vision of providing a special delivery to families and made it a reality, said Lauer.

The free meal offers entrée choices such as grilled steak, herbed chicken and cheese manicotti as well as a wide variety of side dishes and desserts.

During their stay, birthing moms on the maternal newborn unit have the choice of receiving the free meal for either lunch or dinner, and for a small fee, their attending support person can select a meal from the Mother’s Meal menu as well.

“This is an important service for our new mothers,” said Lauer. “They go through so much during their nine months of pregnancy; they deserve a special first meal with their new family member. The nutrition care division is happy to be a small part of their birth story.”

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