Morrison Healthcare has created a brand-new position in its executive suite: chief nursing officer (CNO), a role it says is a first in the foodservice industry.
In September, the contractor welcomed Aundrea Mills to this position, with the goal of improving the dialogue between nursing staff and foodservice departments.
“Our relationship with nursing is arguably the most important relationship we have within the hospital,” says Gina Damon, Morrison president of operational support. “And it really all comes down to the fact that we have the same goal—patient well-being—and rely on each other to make it happen.”
The collaboration between the foodservice team and the nursing staff allows the nurses to be involved in a critical part of their patient’s care: nutrition, she says, with the ultimate goal of helping patients get better, faster.
“We now have insight into the inner workings of a nursing department—what they need, pain points they might experience with foodservice, critical team members we may not be accounting for, etc.,” Damon says. “Ultimately, what Aundrea is able to do for us is to make sure we’re speaking the language of nursing and hospital leadership.”
Prior to this role, Mills served as CNO for Morristown-Hamblen Health System, part of Covenant Health, in Morristown, Tenn., and before that, held the same title at LifePoint Health and CHS.
In her new position, Mills supports all Morrison locations across the U.S. She spends a lot of time on the road, observing, touring accounts and conferring with nurses, leaders, patients and foodservice workers.
“I’ve been in patient rooms to hear how we might better serve them based on their desires and diagnoses,” she says. “I also work collaboratively with the dietitians.”
In addition, Mills aims to improve communication between departments, establish relationships and help roll out new initiatives or program changes.
One thing that’s stood out to her in her first three months, she says, “is there’s an assumption of the understanding of our team members’ role.” In other words: “We assume the nurses know what we’re doing.”
Mills also works to link nurses and dietitians so they can collaborate to produce the best outcomes for patients. “We’re really excited about addressing nurse nutrition,” Damon says, noting that “it’s with that bigger picture that can we really make an impact.”
Along those lines, Morrison partners with the American Nursing Association (ANA) and the American Nurses Foundation (ANF), the research, education, and charitable affiliate of the ANA, and in 2019, joined its Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation Grand Challenge.