Becky Ellis: Community partner

Published in FSD Update

Becky Ellis has enhanced the foodservice program at Carilion Clinic by enhancing patient foodservice.

By Paul King, Editorial Director

At a Glance

  • 1.5 million patient meals served each year
  • $17 million budget
  • 217 FTEs
  • 7 retail outlets

Accomplishments

Becky Ellis has enhanced the foodservice program at Carilion Clinic by:

  • Fostering partnerships with a number of organizations, including two local colleges, the ACF and Health Care Without Harm
  • Promoting health and wellness on the retail side through the Choose Wisely program and a Choice Plus vending program
  • Enhancing patient foodservice through a new ordering system that allows patients to order meals closer to mealtimes
  • Overseeing the renovation of the 300-seat Mountain View Café at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, the system’s largest facility

Partnerships are the foundation of the Carilion Clinic, a healthcare system of eight hospitals in the Roanoke, Va., area. In her role as senior director of dining and nutrition services for Carilion for the past 12 years, Becky Ellis has wholeheartedly embraced the concept at the six hospitals she oversees. She has built and enhanced her program around relationships with local educational institutions, the local chapter of the American Culinary Federation and Health Care Without Harm. She even considers the business relationship her department has with the company that operates her central kitchen to be a partnership.

“Partnerships are extremely important,” says Ellis, who has spent most of her career as part of the Carilion system, “especially for someone like me who grew up in the area. The next person who comes into one of our hospitals could likely be a relative, a friend or an acquaintance of mine, so it’s important for me to connect with the community and know the expectations of our community members for a patient experience in our hospitals. If we don’t connect with them, we lose that information.”

A lifelong resident of the Roanoke area, Ellis is the daughter of a TV journalist and a home economics teacher for the Virginia Tech extension system. “When I was growing up my grandmother lived with us, and whenever I wanted to find my mom or grandmother I would go to the kitchen because they always seemed to be there,” Ellis recalls. “They were terrific cooks, and I just fell in love with cooking.”

That shaped her decision to explore a career in foodservice, and she earned her bachelor’s degree in foodservice at Radford University, in Virginia.

“I thought that restaurants were really cool, and I worked in that field for a little while [when] I was getting my college education,” she says. “Then I found out that in restaurants you are usually working when everybody else is having fun. So as a quality-of-life decision I was very fortunate to find a job in healthcare.”

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