Chef at HCA Virginia’s Retreat Doctors’ Hospital is healing patients with food

HCA Virginia's Retreat Doctors hospital are healing their patients with their food.

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Hospital food is known to have a bad rap. From the jello cups to pudding, hospital food isn’t the best tasting food.

At the HCA Virginia Retreat Doctor’s hospital, food and nutrition director Michael Holliday is looking to change that norm by creating a healthy menu that is still great tasting without using a lot of fatty substitutes or salts.

"We can achieve certain flavor profiles without using those methods, just using fresh herbs and being more conscious with the ingredients were using,” said Food and Nutrition Director Michael Holliday.

Holliday believes doctors aren’t the only ones who are helping the patients heal faster, but his staff as well.

“It’s a partnership because not only do people need good medicine, they need good nutrition as well," said Holliday.

Holliday and his chefs have found a way to incorporate healthy eating as part of their menu to help the patients’ healing process.

“We’re in the health care business. It’s our duty to not only create food but create food that’s nutritious and that will bring well-being and healing to the patients,” said Holliday. “Cooking is my passion and I’m really passionate about doing it especially in a health care environment.“

Over a decade ago, Michael’s daughter got sick and that’s when he noticed how important a healthy diet was for patients in a hospital.

“My oldest daughter was diagnosed with MS and we realized then we needed to make better decision when choosing food,” said Holliday.

From there, Holliday’s mindset was changed, and he brought the same enthusiasm over to the small community hospital in the Fan District revamping the hospital’s meals.

“The main goal is to create a meal that they enjoy,” said Holliday.

And that’s what he did, Michael added things like a char grill, a salad bar and cooking with herbs.

“We use a lot of fresh herbs, garlic, oregano, fresh basil, fresh rosemary, and we’ve incorporated that into our menu planning and creating meals around fresh herbs and vegetables,” said Holliday.

The most important change in the kitchen was having his employees take patients menu orders bedside

“They go up with a meal on tablet and tell them all the specials for a day and allow them to select their meals," said Holliday.

He does that to give the patients an opportunity to be in control of something since they can’t control their illness. Plus, food is always the key to someone’s heart and happiness.

“We’ve had some patience’s that in so many words are disappointed when its time for them to go home because they enjoy getting room service quality meals three times a day,” said Holiday.

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