Have you ever actually stopped to think what is the definition of care?
Encyclopedia.com defines it best as “The provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance and protection of someone or something.”
When you apply this to a hospital or health care system, it creates a laundry list of tasks to ensure someone receives proper care for a rapid recovery and return to health. Think about all the provisions that were involved during a hospital stay by yourself or a loved one. Dispensing medications, repeatedly taking vital statistics, proper nutrition, cleanliness of all spaces, medical staff and patient communication … the list goes on. It takes a ton of resources to effectively run a hospital and the ugly truth for providers is that in recent months, it has been quite difficult to acquire the resources needed to provide the best care in our trusted medical centers. As we head into 2022, we find ourselves in a familiar yet unsettling situation. The unwelcomed COVID-19 resurgence of the delta variant is placing yet another severe strain on the capacities of a health care system that is still trying to recover from the impacts of the first COVID-19 wave. With U.S. hospitals reporting hundreds of staffing shortages due to burnout combined with the highest levels of new COVID-19-related hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic, our health care industry is in dire need of relief.
As we embark into the last half of 2021, we find ourselves in a familiar yet unsettling situation. The unwelcomed COVID-19 resurgence of the Delta Variant is placing yet another severe strain on the capacities of a health care system that is still trying to recover from the impacts of the first COVID-19 wave. With U.S. hospitals reporting hundreds of staffing shortages due to burnout combined with the highest levels of new COVID-19-related hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic, our health care industry is in dire need of relief. Change is scary, particularly when so many disciplines of a traditional operating model are tested by the strain of this pandemic. But as we balance the pressures of the current climate against the duration in which this added strain on hospitals will last, aligning with proven expertise can minimize risk and alleviate pressure. Acting now with the right partner could help sustain your facility through the hard times and position your hospital for strength when acute needs normalize.
When administrators rank a “wish list” of things that could help them provide better care, let’s be honest: their Food and Nutrition Services and Environmental Services departments aren’t usually high on their list. But shouldn’t all patient-centric considerations be equally ranked and executed? Proper nutrition is critical to survival and healing, so it is imperative to find a way to bring the evolving complexities of patient and staff dining to the forefront. Food services must remain a definitive component of not only your care plan, but a key lever in staff retention. Change is scary, particularly when the strain of this pandemic tests so many disciplines of a traditional operating model. But as we balance the pressures of the current climate against the duration in which this added strain on hospitals will last, aligning with proven expertise can minimize risk and alleviate pressure. Acting now with the right partner could help sustain your facility through the hard times and position your hospital for strength when acute needs normalize your facility running in a safe, sanitary and efficient way.
Three reasons you should consider outsourcing food and nutrition and environmental services departments, even during a pandemic:
Workforce Stability and Staffing
If you asked anyone in hospital administration today what is their No. 1 concern, the answer will likely be a workforce shortage. This translates into a larger epidemic – staff are burned out from the pandemic, work from home and in-home care jobs are abundant, and COVID-19-related responsibilities are making it difficult to backfill critical health care positions.
Do you find it difficult to fill position vacancies in your Food and Nutrition Services and your Environmental Services departments? Contract firms bring a depth of resources to stabilize culinary and housekeeping responsibilities, and chief among them is labor solutions. While many times the resources include a broader recruiting reach, it can also mean financial benefits that offset the demand for labor. By reviewing service flow-through facility redesigns, technology to enhance the user experience, or community engagement that tap into new revenue streams – there are multiple strategies that can help efficiently re-deploy your already challenged labor pool. Whatever the motive, entrusting a professional firm specializing in health care dietary and EVS needs is much like having a trained surgeon restore your health. They are an expert in their respective fields, with specialized strategies and tools to ensure success. Wouldn’t you want a specialist in hospitality solutions overseeing your targeted needs, so you don’t have to?
Reducing Employee Burnout
While hospitals will continue to struggle in maintaining a continual pool of job applicants, the one area administrators can make concerted efforts towards is enhancing employee morale. It is more imperative than ever to recognize, train and retain current talent. Wherever you can inject a slight break in someone’s day, it is always a win!
Individuals are inherently programmed to eat, and your staff not only need food as fuel to achieve your daily goals, but they love food! A recent survey showed that 90% of Americans enjoy eating at a restaurant and 60% of diners say the most important feature in their experience is the food. Dining brings us together and what better way to motivate your staff than by reimagining the onsite food offerings. Clinical staff have minimal time to grab a much-needed meal break. Professional dining providers bring culinary expertise, fresh menu ideas and clear recommendations to turn your onsite dining program into a differentiating employee benefit. Enhancing your retail offering and the way it’s delivered during a pandemic will significantly benefit not only your team, but the visitors and community your Food and Nutrition Services department serve.
Supply Chain Certainty and Relief
Outsourced providers have substantial resources for procuring everything from meal ingredients to cleaning solutions and supplies. Having a specialized procurement partner is extremely beneficial during pandemic where common goods have become scarce. With national buying contracts, their reach goes beyond the lack of workers, shipping and overall production. Organizations such as Unidine’s Healthcare Culinary Group not only leverage the overall purchasing power of their global parent company Compass Group, but since they prepare all meals from scratch, supply purchases are made higher up at the commodity level where the demand is lower and supply is richer. This not only minimizes product disruptions but also avoids the unexpected cost increases forced from most shortages. By outsourcing food and nutrition services, the burden of supply shorts can be minimized, patient nutrition maintained, and staff satisfaction upheld so administrators can focus on healing.
COVID-19 is pushing the limits of hospitals nationwide and when the demand for care is larger than your capacity, the primary concern is to save lives. Your Food and Nutrition Services and Environmental Services departments are a subset of your care plan and if “not good enough” comes to mind for your current program, perhaps it’s time to reach out for help. Historically, rural community hospitals struggle the most with finding a qualified dining partner due to limited options for outsourcing, and with the pandemic placing a heavier burden on prioritizing what’s important, health care dining tends to create more difficulties. Unidine’s Healthcare Culinary Group is one of the few options out there strategically positioned to support smaller community providers. A common myth is that outsourcing negatively impacts the bottom line, but the truth is, strategic third-party partnership models deliver a reimagined program that offers cost-neutral or better financial savings. And Unidine maintains a direct partnership with Coreworks, a leading provider of housekeeping and laundry services nationwide. With a centralized partnership, you can add on best-in-class support services that include access to EVS supply chain and staffing resources to meet your hospital’s needs.
For more information about partnering with Unidine, or to schedule a personalized assessment, contact Chad Cantwell, senior director of business development, 512/591-6036 or [email protected].
This sponsored section is underwritten by THA Member Solutions. Unidine is endorsed by the Texas Hospital Association. For more information, visit www.unidine.com.