Hospital Blindness: More Cognitive Dissonance On Display

Today I’m at the Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m sitting in a gorgeous eight-story atrium, filled with light, palm trees, and other wonderful green plantings. It reminds me of the lushness of the Opryland Hotel’s atrium.

I’ll get to the cognitive dissonance in a moment…

My mother-in-law has a pacemaker implant, and the battery has gone dead. She has to have a surgical procedure to replace the battery. I had time in my schedule to transport her and my father-in-law from their home, about an hour’s drive away, to the hospital.

When I say “Cognitive Dissonance,” I mean the ability to hold two opposing ideas in one’s mind at the same time. Usually that causes some uneasiness. But at Centennial Medical Center, it just seems like medical blindness.

My life philosophy is “Actions speak louder than words.” If you want to truly understand what is important to another person or a business, don’t listen to what they way…only watch what they do. Their values are found in their actions.

Hospitals blab on all the time about healthy lifestyle choices, taking care of yourself and losing weight. And that very blathering is happening at Centennial Medical Center. Centennial’s actions are anything but promoting healthy lifestyles.

In the atrium, there is a coffee bar where I’m sitting right now. On display are sugar-laden juices, candy, cookies, chips, oversized muffins, sugar-laden sodas and all sorts of coffees, cappuccinos, espresso, etc. That’s bad enough, but how about the food court?

The food court on the second floor above the atrium is mind-boggling. When you walk through the doors you are met by TWO fast food franchises…Dairy Queen and Subway! Beyond that is a grille area, and beyond that is the steam table area.

The breakfast menu included:

Scrambled eggs
Bacon
Sausage
Hash browns
Grits
Biscuits and gravy
Assorted Danish
Cinnamon rolls
Caramelled apples

Beverages were every kind of sugary soft drink you could imagine, along with diet soft drinks, coffees, sugary “vitamin water,” sugary fruit drinks and bottled water.

Most of the patrons for breakfast were hospital staff, including doctors, nurses and other medical staff. And a cursory look at their choices proved that they ate the standard American menu of fats and sugars.

The lunch offerings were:

The entire DQ menu board
The entire Subway menu board
Pork Tenderloin in gravy
Salisbury steak in gravy
Baked chicken
Mashed Potatoes and beef gravy
Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts…all boiled into a nearly undistinguishable mush, thereby destroying most nutritional value.

After my mother-in-law emerged from surgery into recovery, they brought her a lunch box, which contained half a chicken salad sandwich, a bag of pretzels, a bag of cinnamon cookies, and a can of Coke. This is nutrition?

What can we learn from this? Is it reasonable to conclude that the hospital doesn’t really consider healthy eating to be important? There is no salad bar on the premises. No truly healthy food is offered for any person who frequents this food court. Most public school lunchrooms do a better job of nutrition.

The most cynical viewpoint is that the hospital is all about treating diseases. Most diseases that humans get are directly attributable to the stuff they eat and drink. So, feeding the patients, their family members and the medical staff the very stuff that keeps them overweight and sick assures a steady stream of customers for the hospital. If people ate right and got healthy, they wouldn’t need the hospital. It might have to downsize or close its doors altogether.

A hospital that was truly committed to healthy living would not serve or sell the traditional American diet. It would champion the cause of abundant vegetables, limited fruit and meat consumption, no sugar, wheat, caffeine or processed foods. That’s what is known as the “alkaline lifestyle,” and is the most healthy lifestyle to maintain.

I challenge you to find an American hospital that has championed the cause of healthy lifestyles by only serving healthy foods on its premises. Let me know if you find one.

But I don’t expect to hear from you any time soon.

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