Paul Hubbard: Group Facilitator

Some say this is the "me" generation and it's all about "me." Although Paul Hubbard, associate director of foodservice operations at 527-bed Stony Brook (NY) University Hospital on Long Island, has helped place his facility on the cutting edge of what's new and exciting in healthcare foodservice today, "me" isn't part of his lexicon.

For Hubbard, it's all about "we" and "us" and facilitating the work of a team of 185 dedicated department employees who, over the past six years, have transformed a 26-year-old facility, and a department that was serving 1.8 million meals annually (including retail, patient and catering areas), into a modern one on target to produce 2.1 million meals by year's end.

During that same time period, revenue has grown from $3.3 million in 2000 to $5.6 million today. Perhaps most impressive, since it occurred amidst a $7-million capital improvement project, patient satisfaction scores, as reported by Press Ganey, zoomed from "unacceptable" (Hubbard's word) to between the 95th and 99th percentiles today, when compared with other similar Long Island hospitals.

Shifting gears: Hubbard, whose background includes formal chef training, spent many years working the marathon days often required in casual dining and mom-and-pop restaurants prior to switching to healthcare foodservice. He was seeking regular Monday-through-Friday hours with weekends free to antique and garden with his wife (and gain quality time with their six grandchildren).

Based on his experience working in contracted acute care and assisted-living facilities, he was hired to join the Stony Brook staff as assistant director seven years ago when the department was under a management contract. He was originally tasked with overseeing purchasing and production, but within his first year on the job the facility switched to self-operation, his title changed to associate director, and his duties expanded to encompass all retail operations and catering.

"Currently, I oversee purchasing, receiving, retail, catering, information systems and security for the department, and I've acted as construction liaison for all capital improvement projects," Hubbard says, using the "I" word only out of necessity. "I tend to be a facilitator and assist with getting certain functions done. Going self-op changed how we did business from both a budgetary and organizational standpoint. Without the contractor, we had to develop our own hiring practices, menus, programs, etc. It saved us a ton of money, $300,000 in labor costs and the management fee,within the first year."

Aiming to effect a seamless transition to self-op (overnight from June 30 to July 1), Hubbard and other key administrators busily completed the writing of schedules, recipe manuals, employee orientation guides and many other behind-the-scenes projects.

Next steps: With the transition accomplished, modernization of the facility was next on administration's agenda. This included the physical plant, production facility, trayline and retail operations (then serving approximately 3,200 customers), along with the requisite technology. It was all part of a much larger, hospital-wide capital improvement plan worth about $450 million.

"We were moving from cook-chill to cook-serve," Hubbard explains. "The hospital hired a consultant to plan all phases of the project. Of course, the plan then needed to be reviewed, modified, funded and phased-in over the next four years. Even though this included gutting the entire facility, we still had to feed the patients."

Throughout the project Hubbard acted as construction liaison. The first year saw the inauguration of the new warewashing system (February 2002) followed by patient feeding, a new bakery, hot production, receiving and stores, all completed by November of that year. "As a member of the team from food and nutrition, I met with others including the consultant, the engineering team, plus end users," he recalls. "There were weekly and bi-weekly meetings to discuss when to do, how to do, and how much needed to be spent. Then there was the job of procuring equipment and planning the phased implementation. So my role was to help the team with the coordination of this phase of the project."

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