So much of the work at YRMC goes on behind the scenes, before anyone interacts directly with patients, visitors, the community, or staff. This is especially true in Nutrition Services, where dedicated employees work as a team to produce hundreds of meals a day with care, 365 days a year.
A day in Nutrition Services starts at 4:30 a.m., when the lead cook and checker arrive to open the big commercial kitchens on the East and West Campuses. The lead cook starts preparing all of the entrees and desserts for the patients, cafeteria customers and catering orders that will be served or delivered that day. The checker answers the phone in the early morning hours, and is responsible for ensuring the accurate assembly of everything delivered to patients, including meals, tube feedings, and snacks.
The breakfast cook comes in at 5:00 a.m., followed by the operator, who takes over the phones, managing patient orders, and making sure that patient meals are delivered within 45 minutes of receiving an order. The salad team begins their day at 5:30 a.m., and get right to work preparing everything for the salad bar, making side dishes and portioning desserts. The salad team also gathers the food, beverages and place settings needed for luncheons, meetings and other catered events.
Since many catering orders are placed at the last minute, this can be a very busy job. The dishwashers, who work to clean the pots, pans and dishes used by the cooks and customers many times throughout the day, start arriving for work at 6:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, if it’s Monday, US Foods delivers 450 cases of food and supplies at the back door. Another 100 cases typically arrive on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Daniel Seale, Buyer and Cafeteria Team Lead on the West Campus, is responsible for stocking this mountain of food and supplies. He also oversees all things retail, the cafeteria staff, and ordering for the West Campus operation. Kim Hamilton, Production Manager, takes care of orders and deliveries, which arrive on Tuesday morning, on the East Campus.
That’s what happens in just the first few hours of the morning. As the day goes on, there are food and coffee orders to fill; patient trays to deliver; pots, pans and dishes to wash; phone calls to answer; and prepping for the next day and week to complete. The lead cook checks menus and supplies for the next day, while everyone else has prep and stocking assignments to complete by the end of their shift. Shelley Stophlet, Senior Production Manager, assigns and manages this coordinated, continuous flow of work on the West Campus, while Kim Hamilton does so on the East.
Shelley sums it all up with an easygoing attitude, “No matter what, everyone gets fed!” She makes light of her responsibilities, but sometimes, making sure everyone gets fed is no small task. Shelley continues, “Most days, the kitchens on the West and East Campus run really well – we have a great system and employees that really care about the work they do. But, snafus do happen, and when they do, we have to adjust and make it all work. We sometimes have to deal with broken equipment, occasional burns or other injuries, and we get shorted sometimes on orders or supplies. If something doesn’t show up, we have to make last minute menu changes. If someone calls in sick, then others have to shift their responsibilities to make sure everything gets done.”
It’s true that a lot gets done in Nutrition Services; from January through November 2016, the Nutrition Services staff prepared and served 426,000 meals! While patient and cafeteria food service is central to the operation, many meals are catered and delivered to YRMC offices and to a number of community locations as well. For example, both campuses prepare boxed lunches every weekday for local patient-centered businesses. They also cater a complete dinner, twice a month, for the Prescott Area Women’s Shelter. Ken Boush, Director of Marketing and Communications at YRMC, shares his experience with this important service. “The catered dinners that Nutrition Services prepares for the Prescott Area Women’s Shelter represent one of the many things that YRMC does for the community. My wife, Deborah Boush, delivers the dinners to the shelter. I’ve helped her on a number of occasions and am so impressed with the care that Nutrition Services puts into preparing this food. There is always an entrée, side dish, and dessert, and there is so much food that the folks at the shelter can use it for two or three meals.”
Back in the kitchen, the night cook takes over preparing patient orders and the supervision of all remaining staff. After 7:00 p.m., patient orders end, the cafeteria closes, the staff cleans up, and everyone goes home. Jeanne Briggs, RD, Director of Nutrition Services, sums up the mission of the department she has led for over 30 years: “We promise to do our best to make people happy by providing great food in a timely manner. We will be kind, friendly and welcoming to help provide comfort and reassurance to all those we serve.”