Heart Institute gets healthier, achieves Bronze Level

Group shot: promotion of hear health
From left to Right: Allan Brown, Marek Hospitality Food Services Director; Thomas Riding, Marek Hospitality Operation Supervisor; Anna Sophianopoulos-Georgaras, UOHI Director of Planning and Administration; Dr. Thierry Mesana, UOHI President and CEO; Andra Taylor, Healthy Foods in Hospitals Program Regional Dietitian; Marion Fraser, UOHI Vice President Finance, Administration and Infrastructure; Charlotte Smith, UOHI Auxiliary Program; Dr. Andrew Pipe, UOHI Chief of the Division of Prevention and Rehabilitation; Laurie Dojeiji, CCPN Program Manager; Jean Bilodeau, UOHI Patient Alumni Association President.

Promoting heart health is part of the Heart Institute’s mission, and the Healthy Foods in Hospitals initiative spearheaded by the Champlain Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Network (CCPN), housed within the Institute’s Division of Prevention and Rehabilitation, is helping hospitals in the region achieve just that.

The Heart Institute proudly achieved Bronze status in 2015 and thanks to many key changes made alongside Marek Hospitality at the Institute’s on-site Tickers cafeteria, and to all retail food, including vending machines, gift shop, and franchise, a continuum has been established that will shift the landscape so healthier food offerings are more prominent and will be consistent with the healthy eating principles taught to our patients in the clinical setting.

Creating an environment that is conducive to supporting and enabling individuals to take responsibility for their own health requires a commitment to making significant changes. Supporting health and well-being in the workplace will enable our dedicated team of staff and physicians to deliver the best patient care. Increasing healthy food options, and reducing unhealthy ones, is an important way to reduce risk factors that may contribute to the development of chronic disease.

The Bronze Level was achieved by UOHI in December 2015, and it involved key changes which included:

  • Providing calorie and sodium information for soups and entrees
  • Increasing availability of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit
  • Removing deep fryers and deep fried foods
  • Reducing the variety of chocolate, chips, coated granola bars, candy, and pretzels
  • Reducing sodium in soups
  • Decreasing portion sizes of high-calorie beverages

“Our team is proud to have achieved the Bronze Level, and this would not have been possible without the hard work, and true commitment from the amazing food services team and staff who have been paramount in this achievement,” said Anna Sophianopoulos-Georgaras, the Institute’s Director of Planning and Administration

The process will continue to grow and evolve, and achieving the Silver Level will include further changes including:

  • Expanding the provision of calorie and sodium information at point-of-purchase
  • Further increasing availability of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds
  • Reducing sodium in soups and entrees
  • Reducing processed meats and high-fat cheeses
  • Introducing calorie, fat, sodium and sugar targets for snack, baked goods, and desserts
  • Expanding phase-out high-calorie beverages

“It’s important to promote healthy eating in order to ensure our employees’ health. At the Heart Institute, we are committed to this approach and we are working collaboratively with our dietitians, food services, staff, physicians, patients and families to further this program,” said Laurie Dojeiji, Network Manager, Health Promotion, with the Champlain Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Network (CCPN). “Staff will continue to have the choice to bring their own lunch to work. But, we want to provide healthy food choices if staff choose to purchase food on-site.”

Back in April 2015, and thanks to a generous $25,000 contribution from the Heart Institute’s Patient Alumni Association, the Institute’s cafeteria upgraded its equipment so that it is now easier to prepare healthy food for the 500 or so staff and visitors who eat there every day.

“It really fits into our mandate for patient comfort and support. We kept telling patients to go back home and eat right, so we felt we could also help the Heart Institute in its efforts to promote healthy food,” said Jean Bilodeau, the Association’s President.

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