Rusty the Rhino brings fun healthy foods to Netcare Linksfield Hospital paediatric patients

Bravery certificates, colouring in and playful crockery aim to cheer young patients

Thursday, July 13 2017

An innovative paediatric catering programme has been introduced at Netcare Linksfield Hospital. The ‘Rusty the Rhino’ programme, developed by the Compass Group and Medirest, Netcare’s catering service supplier, will be introduced in all Netcare hospitals with paediatric wards countrywide.

“The programme heralds a new approach to paediatric catering in that the enticing menus not only offer nutritious meals designed to appeal to junior palates while the friendly rhinoceros character is expected to make the hospital experience more pleasant for children,” says Louis van der Hoven, general manager of Netcare Linksfield Hospital.

“When children are admitted to hospital they invariably feel anxious about being away from home. At Netcare hospitals we strive to make our paediatric wards a welcoming environment for our young patients. In our experience, children who are unwell and are in the unfamiliar surroundings of a healthcare facility often require a little extra coaxing to encourage them to eat, as maintaining good nutrition is a very important part of their recovery process,” explains Van der Hoven.

Celebrity chef Reuben Riffel, who is an ambassador for Medirest, was involved in the launch of this exciting new children’s programme at Netcare hospitals. “I have always been passionate about good food, as it is such an integral part of our daily lives and can enhance almost any experience. Being a father myself, I know that children are often very particular about which foods they are prepared to try,” he notes.

“Rusty the Rhino brings a new element of fun to meal times for children in hospital. Presentation of food is extremely important, and the meals will be served on trays and crockery decorated with Rusty the Rhino’s smiling face. The age-specific menus are designed to be healthy yet enticing for children and include ‘kiddie favourites’ with a wholesome yet tasty twist,” Riffel explains.

“The rhinoceros was chosen for the programme because children in South Africa know and identify with a rhinoceros,” says Dolf Smook, general manager of Medirest.  “At the same time the rhinoceros character also aims to foster an interest in this endangered species and promote conservation consciousness in the young patients.”

Smook says that to add to the excitement of mealtimes, meals will be served by staff members wearing Rusty the Rhino branded aprons and caps. As part of the programme, young patients will receive special Star Award stickers as reward for taking their medicine and eating their meals. Rusty the Rhino colouring in materials and other fun activities are part of the programme to keep children entertained while in hospital. On their discharge, each child will also receive a ‘bravery award’ certificate.  

 “We are extremely pleased to welcome Rusty the Rhino with his big smile in our hospital. We look forward to seeing the smiles of our young patients as they enjoy the special children’s menus and fun activities during their stay at Netcare hospitals,” Van der Hoven concluded.



Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Hospital Division
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, or Meggan Saville
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]