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Nutrition and Food Services

Nutrition has always been known, of course, as a critical factor in health.   Today in medicine, healthcare providers are ever more aware of the essential role that diet plays in healing and in prevention and management of specific diseases. Food is also an important element in enjoying life healthfully and feeling good.

Virtua’s staff wants each patient’s dietary intake to be consistent with his or her medical, personal, and healthcare goals and needs. Nutrition should support all aspects of a patient’s life, and Virtua wants each individual in its care to share an understanding and commitment to this aspect of both health maintenance and recovery.

At the Hospitals

Virtua takes great pride in offering nutritious and appealing meals that support the health of its patients and visitors.   Virtua assesses and reassesses the needs of its inpatients during their stays. Its hospitals offer patients a menu of foods in line with their dietary needs and allows them to place orders for  meals customized to their preferences.    Individuals with diabetes and others with special dietary needs can be confident that Virtua’s staff of registered dieticians and executive chefs are working hard to offer desirable food choices that meet their dietary requirements.

The meal locations at each Virtua campus include a full-service cafeteria. In addition, Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital offers a  smaller “Franciscan Cafe” to provide coffee, sandwiches and other quick-serve items over extended hours and in-between meals. A “Franciscan Cafe” is also located on-site at Virtua Health & Wellness Center – Cherry Hill.

We have consistently won awards for its food service —— most recently the 2016 “People’s Choice Award” at the Taste of South Jersey event aboard the Battleship New Jersey.

Outpatient Needs

Virtua recently expanded its services to offer medical nutrition therapy (MNT), delivered at Virtua Health & Wellness Center – Cherry Hill.  The program, led by an outpatient dietitian who is a registered Medicare provider, has a focus on diabetic patients; however, patients with a variety of conditions can take advantage of this service.

MNT is different from weight-loss dieting; it is a nutritional-counseling approach to address medical conditions.   It can be appropriate for individuals who:

  • have high cholesterol
  • have high blood sugar
  • are overweight by 25 pounds or more
  • have a weight condition that affects the way they breathe, walk or carry out activities of daily living
  • have kidney or digestive problems
  • have food allergies
  • have an eating disorder
  • want to find a more healthful way of eating

The staff’s focus is to develop a highly targeted, individualized meal plan for each patient, with the goal of a managing special needs, including through a healthful approach to lifestyle and eating habits.  Patients gain a professionally designed meal plan, as they are educated about nutrition modifications to their lifestyle, learn to take advantage of food labels, appreciate healthful cooking tips and locate good food sources.

MNT helps to reduce and prevent complications from chronic disease. But it can also serve a preventive role for those without chronic disease. Individuals interested in improving their nutritional health can avail themselves of this important service.

Nutritional counseling helps participants to feel better and be better.   It has been shown to decrease:

  • doctor visits and hospitalizations
  • work absence
  • medication use.

The counseling session can include a family member or significant other.

A physician must refer patients to this program.   Insurance coverage for MNT varies. Medicare Part B beneficiaries whose primary care physician has documented their diagnosis of diabetes or non-dialysis kidney disease are eligible for MNT reimbursement through Medicare.

To schedule your MNT consultation and prepare for it, call 856-757-3594.

Nutrition counseling is also available through Wellness Services.  Learn more.

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