Niagara University to help enhance hospital’s foodservice program

The college of hospitality and tourism was called upon to design the café and improve patient scores at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

Published in Healthcare Spotlight

“Professor Scott Beahen, the foodservice director for the college of hospitality and tourism management, and I met with [Ruffolo] and members of his team in late January to discuss the new concept that the hospital envisioned for their outdated cafeteria area,” Maher says. “The initial stage is focusing on the new design for this bistro concept. The second phase of this cooperation will address customer service, and we will begin discussions on this aspect of the agreement at the end of April or early May.”

The hospital and university are working with Cannon Design on the cafeteria project. Cannon, headquartered in Chicago but with offices around the country, including Buffalo, N.Y., most recently received an award from the Association of College Unions International for its design of the new Gordon Dining and Events Center at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Beahen and a team of three Niagara University students met with Mary Degnan, R.D., director of nutrition services, toured the foodservice facility, interviewed staff and drafted design concepts based on staff input and planned utilization of the space. The team then met with Michael Mistriner, a principal at Cannon, to discuss the concept and review the students’ plans.

Degnan says the project is still in the early stages, although rendering of what the new space could look like have been sketched out. But she notes that the servery will be reconfigured to provide customers with multiple stations offering a variety of healthier food choices, and the overall feel of the space will be more like a bistro. “We will completely transform the foodservice and social experience,” she explains.

In addition to the redesign, the hospital will work with the university to create a program to help the hospital improve its Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores. HCAHPS uses the results of patient surveys to grade hospitals on a variety of services, including foodservice. Under the new Affordable Care Act, HCAHPS scores are tied to such items as Medicare and Medicaid funding. 

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