Old favourite proves popular as hospital revamps menu

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Thursday Island Hospital cook Dulcie Kepa serves up some coconut curry chicken in the hospital kitchen.

Hospital food isn’t typically known as a five-star cuisine, but the Thursday Island Hospital kitchen staff are trying to change that image.

The hospital’s Operations team had worked with dietitian students to design the menu, but after feedback from patients they requested the students put a cultural spin on what was on offer.

TI Hospital Operations Manager Nicola Britain said healthy versions of dishes such as coconut curry chicken and semur chicken – a popular local dish including glass noodles, soy sauce and vegetables – were proving a hit.

“The students were given a three-month project to assess the reviews of our original meals, identify likes and dislikes and come up with alternatives to the least favourites,” she said.

“After that was complete, we went back to the students and asked them to customise it to culture.

“We have people staying in hospital who are a long way from their home islands so if we can give them some comfort food from home, it can really help.

“If these changes can also help us reduce food wastage, then that is also a great result.”

The team also answered patients’ calls for fresh fish instead of tinned and adjusted the sandwich rotation, so dialysis patients were getting different selections each visit.

Ms Britain said the proof of their efforts was literally in the pudding when a local patient agreed to eat for the first time in several days after being offered the semur chicken.