June 12, 2020
The Soldiers’ Pandemic response underlines the importance of each and every department and team throughout the hospital, including Dietary Services -- a team of frontline workers essential to the comfort and well-being of patients and staff alike.
John ‘JJ’ Johnson, Production and Catering Supervisor for Food Services describes how the Dietary Services Department has adjusted.
First and foremost, he is incredibly proud of how his team has risen to the occasion with sincere effort and professionalism in the face of uncertainty, despite the initial oft-heard lament: ‘This wasn’t what we were expecting when we joined Food Services!’.
In fact, John considers that Soldiers’ as a whole has done an outstanding job. In collaboration led by their Department Manager Joanne Smith, co-supervisor Diane Clark and the Dietary team, their first priorities were to staff safety, retaining as many jobs as possible and to ensure that the department worked well, despite the new challenges. He states he has had excellent cooperation from all stakeholders.
Here are examples of some initiatives:
- Maintaining jobs and ensuring ongoing availability by up staffing the cafeteria to provide full-service (no self-serve) from 8 – 2 pm throughout the week.
- Providing a venue for all staff to take their breaks by re-arranging/distancing cafeteria seating.
- Adjusted patient menu choices to streamline ordering, food preparation and meal assembly.
- Wearing full personal protection equipment (PPE) in the dishwashing area and for all staff entering public and clinical areas of the hospital: mask, face shields, gloves and aprons. Staff were provided their own reusable head coverings as part of their uniform in an initiative to help reduce the usage of valuable PPE.
- No entry to higher-risk areas (COVID unit or ER) where nurses transfer trays, but continued drop-off and pick-up of trays on remaining floors, with proper hand sanitation between patients.
- Creating efficiency and reducing potential exposure by collecting tray carts from the previous meal after delivering tray carts for the current meal. Thus reducing the pressure placed on nursing in those higher-risk areas to meet Dietary’s tight timelines.
Further perspectives were provided by Dietary Aide, Zak Dunn-Rice (pictured above left), who describes some uncertainty in the early days of the pandemic response when protocols were being established. These are now familiar, but wearing PPE is an ongoing challenge.
Nonetheless, he’s glad he’s experiencing this first-hand, and is very impressed and uplifted by the support our community has offered, from donations (monetary, equipment, food), to tributes of various kinds. The appreciation offered by individual patients has been particularly heartwarming.
Zak says he loves his job. After 10 years as a chef in restaurants in our area before joining OSMH, he really values the interaction with fellow team members, staff and patients. Furthermore, knowing he can make a difference is very rewarding for him… and the pandemic has brought this into focus.