The Plate Method: Changing the Way SCH Feeds Diabetic Patients

Swedish Covenant Health staff using the Plate Method to make a difference: Left: Roxane Finegan BSN, RN-BC, CDE, DWC, Middle: Muna Siddiqi MBA, MS, RD, CDE, Right: Debbie Davis MS, RN, CDE

Diabetic patients at Swedish Covenant Hospital will soon have an easier way of staying healthy in the hospital thanks to the collaborative vision of SCH’s Certified Diabetic Educators (CDEs) and the kitchen and inpatient Dieticians. Thanks to funding from SCH Foundation, diabetic patients within the hospital will now participate in the innovative Plate Method at every meal.  The Plate Method makes use of a divided plate, whose segments correspond to the precise portions of starch, protein and vegetables that should be consumed to ensure a healthy diet.  A portion-control plate is an important tool in the management of diabetes, because mismanaged blood sugar and complications from the disease are among the leading causes of death and morbidity.

Currently, diabetic patients often complain to CDEs and nurses that they are confused by the carbohydrate counting system used in the hospital. Some are worried about elevated blood sugars during hospitalization and are confused by their dietary offerings and serving size. In response to patients’ concerns, the CDEs requested funding by SCH Foundation to purchase specialized plates and placemats to use within the hospital to better train staff and control blood sugars in diabetic patients. While segmented plates have been used in the outpatient SCH Diabetes Clinic, this portion control method will now be used within the hospital context, and training will be provided across all care areas.

CDEs will partner with inpatient dietitians and the hospital’s food services department to feed hospitalized diabetics, using segmented porcelain plates, colorful disposable placemats, and a revised diabetic menu. These new strategies will educate patients on portion control and healthy diabetic eating, as well as provide them more effective blood sugar control which will result in the decrease need for corrected doses of insulin.

SCH nurses and CDEs are thrilled to be able to provide the Plate Method to our diabetic patients.  According to Sarah Stadler, Director of Nursing, “Carbohydrate counting can be challenging for the diabetic patient and portion control remains an issue for some, the Plate Method will not only educate patients, but will prompt them to change their eating habits and lifestyle once they leave the hospital”. This innovative program is made possible by generous donations to SCH Foundation. For more information about donating to Swedish Covenant Health, contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or

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