Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road, has started a kitchen to cook Jain food for patients who follow dietary rules prescribed by the religion.
The hospital’s CEO, Dr Tarang Gianchandani, said they decided to set up the new kitchen after some patients demanded Jain food. “Patients wanted to get food cooked at their homes and this is something we discourage as the nutritional intake cannot be monitored if the food is made outside the hospital. So we decided to have a separate kitchen to cook Jain meals,” she said.
The hospital contacted a Jain group to understand the community’s dietary laws and hired Jain cooks. “The cooks worked in religious institutes earlier,” said Gianchandani, who added the hospital has seen a rise in the number of patients from the Jain community after the special kitchen was set up. “Although the food is expensive, patients don’t mind.”
The hospital’s decision has not surprised experts from the healthcare sector. “The patient is also a consumer. Apart from the medical aspect, hospitals have a hospitality factor too,” said Dr Ram Narian, CEO of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. “If restaurants can have a separate menu, so can hospitals.” The Andheri hospital serves only vegetarian food, according to the wishes of its promoters.
Others were sceptical of special kitchens that cater to the food habits of patients from different denominations . A senior administrator at a corporate hospital said food served at hospitals is not supposed to be for the culinary delight of patients. “Hospitals should make sure the food they are serving has the right nutritional value required for the overall healing of the patient. Some of these differentiators [like the Jain food] do attract patients, but they are not primary factors that would decide a patient’s preference,” said the administrator.
According to Dr Prince Surana from Surana Group of Hospitals, patients don’t come to hospitals for the type of cuisine served. “We also provide Jain food to our patients, but for the patient what matters is affordable and quality health care,” said Surana.