08/05/2009 07:16 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Giving McDonald's the Boot

For those of us old enough to have lived through John F. Kennedy's assassination, Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas is forever seared in our memory as the place where JFK died. This week, Parkland made news of a better sort, announcing plans to shut down an on-premises McDonald's fast-food outlet. Taking its place will be UFood Grill, an upstart fast-food chain that emphasizes healthful foods. In place of Big Macs and fries that have been served to Parkland's visitors for the past 20 years, UFood Grill will offer wholesome foods that are baked, grilled, or steamed -- but never fried. (Even their "fries" are baked.)

I've always wondered how hospitals -- including prominent children's hospitals across the country -- justify offering McDonald's -- and sometimes only McDonald's -- in their lobbies. Speaking of a "seal of approval," think about the nutritional messages that these hospitals are sending to hundreds of thousands of parents and their children each year.

In an era in which childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, more hospitals should follow Parkland's lead.

A top executive at Parkland told the Dallas Morning News that booting out McDonald's was even good for the hospital's bottom line: "[T]his was just a straight-up bid deal. Somebody else just wanted it more." He pointed to a deeper motive as well: "'I've been known to eat McDonald's,' said John Haupert, Parkland's chief operating officer. 'But to be fully honest, you do ask the question: Is that type of food the best alternative for a health care institution?'"

So, bravo to Parkland for finding a way to do good while doing well!