Tale of two hospitals

After Hurricane Sandy, whether or not hospitals had power the goal was still the same: feed patients and staff.

When Hurricane Sandy struck the New York metropolitan area two days before Halloween, some of the most severely affected institutions were hospitals. Whether from flooding, a loss of power or a combination of the two, several hospitals such as NYU Langone Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan had to evacuate patients. Others were able to maintain service even without power, and a lucky few managed to escape relatively unscathed.

One of those less fortunate hospitals was Bayonne Medical Center in New Jersey.  The 278-bed hospital sits in the middle of a narrow strip of land bordered by New York Bay on one side and Newark Bay on the other.

“We were without electric for seven days,” wrote foodservice director Bob Lewandoski, whose department was nonetheless able to maintain service throughout the crisis. “During that time we were on a limited menu of mostly cold items, with one hot item at each meal. Of course, we fed all of our patients, but we also fed all staff members and patients’ families around the clock free of charge.”

Lewandoski said one of the biggest challenges was maintaining contact with the outside world, because phone land lines were down and cell phone sevice was spotty at best.

“My cell phone worked most of the time but only outside the building,” he related. “I set myself up a temporary office on the loading dock and placed emergency food and supply orders sitting on milk crates.”

It is during crises that managers often learn exactly what their employees are made of, and for Levandoski the revelation was heart-warming.

“Our whole staff were heroes,” he shared. “Many of them left their families, stayed overnight and worked long hours, giving up their days off and in some cases vacation days. Our clinical nutrition manager, Diana Cangemi, accumulated over 100 hours in eight days.”

On the flip side, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, in New Brunswick, N.J., was one of the more fortunate institutions. Because the hospital’s administration invested more than $1 million on a back-up generator system, the 650-bed hospital never missed a beat.

“That investment was our saving grace,” said Tony Almeida, the hospital’s foodservice director. “We had a lot of people from the community come here just to get a good hot meal. Sometimes, in an emergency, all people want to do is eat.”

Almeida estimated that revenue was up 25% to 30% in the aftermath of the storm. His department also fed patients and staff at Children’s Specialized Hospital, located across the street.

The hospital’s cafeteria also served as a gathering place and a recharging center for local residents, including students from nearby Rutgers University.

“One night I came in and there were like 20 or 25 kids in the cafeteria, and all you could see were computers,” he said.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The menu served at Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, is headed for an overhaul after its CEO and management team ate a strict hospital food diet for a week and were unhappy with their options. The foodservice department has been fielding patient complaints for years, but decided to take action after facing the issue head on.

“Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat,” Director of Food Services Kevin Peters told Ottawa...

Industry News & Opinion

With overtime pay likely to become a reality for some salaried foodservice employees after Dec. 1, operators are rethinking what they expect managers to do off-site as part of their responsibilities. Answering email or scheduling shifts at home didn’t matter when the employees were exempted from overtime if they earned more than $23,660 per year. But with that threshold more than doubling on Dec. 1 to $47,476, a half hour spent here and there on administrative tasks could push a salaried manager over the 40-hours-per-week threshold and entitle him or her to overtime. And how does the...

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

FSD Resources