Nothing beats the taste of home

Ketchikan | August 21, 2017
Dietitian nets seafood donations to delight diners in long-term care

Ketchikan, Alaska is a fishing town.

The downtown welcome arch says “Salmon Capital of the World” and many residents grew up fishing commercially or spent weekends hauling in salmon, cod, halibut and pots of crab or shrimp.

It’s no wonder folks there have a taste for seafood. So what about those who can’t get out on the water themselves any more?

Thanks to a quick-thinking dietitian and a generous fishing community, it’s no problem for long-term care residents in New Horizons at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.

Having ready access to fresh fish means a lot to anyone who has made their home in the area. In fact, when PeaceHealth caregivers would ask what would make the unit’s two dozen temporary and permanent residents feel more at home, “local seafood” was often part of the answer.

Ashley Hackert, RD, watches John Major, long-term care resident, dig into a third helping of snapper. Hackert helped bring the fresh fare to the table, courtesy of a generous community.

Necessary health restrictions prevented direct donation of seafood to the unit, but Ashley Hackert, RD, had an idea. “What if we get a certified processor to handle the fish?”

Joel Buendia, a food service cook at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center, fires up the grill in the outdoor alcove off the New Horizons dining room to prepare red snapper for the residents.

And that’s what she did. She contacted Cedars Lodge, a local fishing resort, which processes fish for charter guests. The team there agreed to handle donations for PeaceHealth Ketchikan.

Hackert also talked to local fishermen, including Russell Cockrum, a member of PeaceHealth’s community board and the skipper of the Viking Maid.

Many agreed and were soon donating part of their catch to be processed by Cedars and bound for the PeaceHealth Ketchikan kitchen.

Residents began enjoying the season’s bounty in late July—grateful for Alaskan ingenuity and generosity.