LANDSTUHL, Germany – More than two millenniums ago, the Greek physician Hippocrates of Kos interpreted nutrition as essential to wellbeing, as evidenced by his famous saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Hippocrates’ theory has survived the test of ages. Even during the COVID-19 global pandemic, his theory is practiced at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center where the Nutrition Care Division has expanded its mission of providing world class comprehensive nutrition services through medical nutrition therapy, high quality meals, health promotion and consultation on nutrition-related health and performance issues.
“It’s such a unique mission just because we do have so many different operations that feed patients that you might not see when you walk through the front door of the DFAC,” said U.S. Army Maj. Michael Noyes, chief of Nutrition Care Division. “We’re feeding dozens of patients, feeding medical evacuees from combat theaters and others who have medical needs from around Europe, Africa and the Middle East.”
Part of NCD’s expanding mission includes nutrition therapy for quarantined patients at the hospital’s Medical Transient Detachment, a company-level unit which provides administrative, logistical and quality of life needs to evacuated wounded, ill and injured service members.
“What happens right now is joint Warfighters, civilians, contractors and others are brought here for isolation at MTD barracks, they need medicine, need other types of support and they also need food,” said Noyes. “In isolation you can’t leave so the food has to come to you.”
U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Nataliya Hampton, a nutrition therapy technician who leads the MTD feeding mission, describes operations as in sync with LRMC’s center of gravity: Quality and Safety.
“If you’re a diabetic, you can’t just eat whatever you want,” Hampton said. “The physician prescribes a diet order, we provide them an actual medical nutrition therapy-based diet. It’s amazing to see a team come together from the culinary side of the house and the inpatient feeding side of the house to ensure the operation happens and the safety of the patients, we spun up resources to ensure quality and safe nutrition is being provided.”
Another NCD mission involves the feeding of guests who can’t leave the hospital, at inpatient wards.
“When a patient is admitted, something people don’t normally think about is how are they going to eat,” said Maggie Wilcox, a registered dietitian at LRMC’s Nutrition Care Division. “When they’re on a ventilator, sedated, and can’t eat, we feed them through a tube.”
Although not providing patients with actual food, instead patients without the ability to eat on their own are fed a type of formula. But it’s what goes into these feedings which is unique.
“It’s nutritionally complete and created to be fed through a tube. That’s part of what we do. Depending on what medications they’re on and how critically ill they are will determine what and how much they are fed.”
For Noyes, the department’s mission is evident of the truth behind the Greek philosopher’s saying and a testament of their expanding capabilities.
“From COVID-19 patients and inpatients to nutritious options for school-aged children, we use that food as medicine,” said Noyes.