Tonya Burnett: People first

Tonya Burnett's team mentality makes strides at St. Rita's Medical Center

Accomplishments

Tonya Burnett has rejuvenated the foodservice department at St. Rita's Medical Center by:

  • building a strong team environment by mentoring employees and putting others first
  • implementing a room service program for patient dining, which has increased patient satisfaction, allowed the addition of local and seasonal menu favorites and reduced the amount of trays per patient day
  • starting a productivity initiative that resulted in the elimination of 10 FTEs, and reducing in-house catering services to cut costs to the hospital
  • building a new kitchen and café and increasing revenue and meal transactions

Tonya Burnett, director of nutrition services for 434-bed St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, Ohio, is described as “very people focused,” by Chris Provaznik, vice president of operations. “She is very caring about her staff and our patients.” It’s that caring attitude that has enabled Burnett to expand services while decreasing costs and employee hours, Provaznik says.

“Tonya is focused on doing the right thing for her employees,” Provaznik says. “She is a strong advocate for them. She has given her time to mentor employees who have then been promoted and gotten higher paying jobs. Her employee group, for the most part in the hospital system, is the lowest-paid group, and Tonya works with HR to provide financial counseling for them.

“It’s a team that pitches in. Last week we had 40 more patients than we did beds, and everyone was in the kitchen helping,” Provaznik adds. “Two of the supervisors were plating food.”

This team attitude is on display during the hospital’s annual United Way campaign. Nutrition Services has consistently been one of the highest contributing departments. The department was honored last year for its efforts with the 2009 Campaign Chairman’s Award. Always the team player, Burnett is quick to deflect personal praise. “All the things we have accomplished and worked on at St. Rita’s Medical Center are because of great teamwork and effort on everyone’s part,” she says. “It is not just me. My team is outstanding.”

Patient service: One of the things the team was able to accomplish was switching to room service for patient dining in February 2010. “We were doing retherm,” Burnett says. “Our primary reason [to switch] was to increase patient satisfaction. We also needed to move away from [the old] system because it limited the types of foods we could serve.”

Patients can order meals between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. by dialing a call center to place their orders. The ticket is printed on the production line where the food is prepared to order. Finished trays are put in carts, which are designated by zone to break up delivery. A timer is started when the first tray is put in the cart. After 15 minutes a porter takes the cart to an ambassador on the patient floor. The ambassador delivers trays to the patients. Burnett says the average delivery time for a tray is less than 30 minutes.

Since the switch to room service, patient satisfaction has increased. Press Ganey scores for the department’s overall meals are now in the 70th percentile for all of Press Ganey. Before the switch to room service, the department’s overall Press Ganey scores were in the 39th percentile. For facilities the same size as St. Rita’s, the department is in the 91st percentile. The department is in the 95th percentile for facilities its size for quality of food.

“We changed the menus pretty extensively when we went to room service,” Burnett says. Burnett’s team worked with a room service consultant, Room Service Technologies, to create new menus. “We put together what we thought might be menu options from our old menus and what was popular,” she says. “They shared with us things that other facilities had used.”

Menu changes: The menus also were changed organizationally. Previously all items were offered à la carte. Now the items are bundled to create meals. For example pork roast is offered with sweet potatoes and green beans. Burnett says most patients order the meal as it is combined on the menu, but she said patients could make substitutions.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...

FSD Resources