Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

AUG 2019

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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30 FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES AUGUST 2019 of the day, it's all about making great food that people want to eat, executing correctly and holding people account- able. "When you make the very best chicken noodle soup, when you let patients order it when they want, and deliver it nice and hot with a smile on your face, you make them happy," he says. "And when you do that, your retail sales go up as well because staff and visitors want it too." St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's Unique Customization With a single location in Memphis and 78 patient beds, St. Jude's rela- tively small size and patient popula- tion make it unique. Devoted solely to children and adolescents suffering from cancer and other life-threatening diseases, the hospital is an anomaly in that some of the strongest forces impacting mainstream hospital food- service programs — the aging popula- tion top among them — don't apply. Here, foodservice focuses squarely on creating menus and providing services that target St. Jude's young patients and their families, many of whom have traveled from foreign countries to seek treatment at the world-renowned medical center. While from a room service perspec- tive St. Jude's feeding census might seem small, in reality, the population served through its program is signi„- cantly larger. "We have a lot of outpatients going through treatment and testing who stay nearby in St. Jude-sponsored housing for weeks or months at a time," Reeves says. "They're on doctor-prescribed diets and they order room service meals that are delivered to them at our retail cafete- ria, Kay Kafe. They use a special meal card as no patients are charged while they're here. On an average day, we'll do approximately 2,400 retail transactions just between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at Kay Kafe, which includes a lot of those outpatient orders. It's a scenario that provides a unique level of operational complexity here. Most other facilities aren't feeding outpatients on special diet orders through their retail venues." Within the hospital proper, all patients have access to on-demand room service and can choose from a core menu of 30 to 40 cooked-to- order entrees. Patients place orders via phone and staff prepare meals on a dedicated room service cook line in the operation's central kitchen, where Reeves says newer accelerated cook- ing technologies — combi ovens, in particular — are mission critical both for quality and speed. When ready, staff deliver orders via push carts. Food typically arrives 30 to 45 minutes after the kitchen team receives the order. Reeves estimates transit times from kitchen to patient room of 5 to 12 minutes. "We're look- ing at technology to be able to better track trays and we're implementing some software to help with that," he notes, adding that leveraging technol- ogy will be increasingly important to St. Jude's program, particularly as the hospital gears up for a major expan- sion in the coming years. "Over the next few months, we're also going to be implementing a new system through which patients will be able to order their meals via our TV-based education and entertain- ment system," Reeves says. "And we're working on ways to better leverage data available through our patient meal management service." Special Service Given St. Jude's size and the nature of its patient population, Reeves and his team are happy to be able to provide plenty of outside-the-box services. These can range from hugs from the chef delivered along with meal trays to fully customized meals that help ensure kids eat and get the nutrition they need help them withstand treat- ments and heal. "We're not only treating a domestic population for whom things like chicken nuggets are enduring favor- ites," Reeves notes. "We have a lot of international patients who have very different favorite dishes and comfort foods. That's where our chefs really get involved — meeting with parents or other family members to learn what types of foods their child would be comfortable with, learning techniques and sourcing ingredients to go beyond the core menu and prepare those dishes. We've even had some cases where a parent has come down to the kitchen to teach the chef how to pre- pare a child's particular favorite dish." Reeves describes a recent scenario in which the patient herself made a foray to the kitchen. "We had a very sick young girl from Mexico who hadn't eaten in nearly two weeks," he says. "The only thing she wanted was her family's enchiladas, so we got clearance and made the proper arrangements to have her brought to the kitchen so that she could show the chef how she likes her enchiladas prepared. When they were done, she gave him a big hug, thanked him through a translator, and went back to her room and ate. Those types of things happen here and it shows the importance we put on the element of food. It's for nutrition, yes, but it's also about comfort and caring for the patient. Our department's mission is to make a difference in the lives of those we serve every day. We happen to do that through customer service and food." FE&S Leveraging technology will be increasingly important to St. Jude's program, particularly as the hospital gears up for a major expansion in the coming years. HOSPITAL HOSPITALITY: Room Service Delivers

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