Becky Hassinger: Elevating the Experience

Foodservices gets a face-lift at the University of Missouri Health Care.

Accomplishments

BECKY HASSINGER has remade foodservices at the UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI HEALTH CARE by:

  • Renovating the system’s main retail locations to improve service and traffic flow and to create a comfortable dining environment
  • Focusing on healthier eating by removing fryers and using better-for-you applications
  • Implementing room service, which increased patient satisfaction
  • Revamping the patient menu to include a staple of favorites and a rotating selection of seasonal specials 

Creating an enjoyable dining atmosphere is essential in any foodservice operation. It’s especially important in a hospital, where life-and-death decisions are made every day. Becky Hassinger, manager of dining and nutrition services at the University of Missouri Health Care, in Columbia, has done everything possible to make that happen throughout the hospital. During the past couple of years she has renovated every major retail location in some way. She also has implemented room service to elevate the patient meal experience.

“Becky really likes taking something that could be better and working with our team to mold those foodservice areas into something that is better,” says Director of Support Services Roger Higginbotham, Hassinger’s boss. “Hospital food was not always at the top of anybody’s list. Becky wants our customers to have the best food that they can. She’s always looking at the experience. We try to create a place where people can unwind for a little bit and experience good food.”

Hassinger is in charge of foodservice for all locations in the system, except the orthopedic center. That includes retail and patient services at the 307-bed University Hospitals and 156-bed Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

Retail renovations: The first retail revamp occurred in the University Hospital, the system’s main facility. The dining location in that hospital, Main Street Café, was a sit-down, full-service restaurant. The café also offered an all-you-can-eat buffet, which was loaded with items that wouldn’t be considered healthy fare, especially in a hospital setting.

“The renovation was long overdue,” Hassinger says. “[The type of service offered there] was something that used to be the thing, but it’s not something hospitals have done in several years. Most hospital staff don’t have time to come down and take a leisurely lunch. They come down and grab something [because they] need to get back up to the floor.”

In addition to the café not offering the type of service most hospital employees needed to accommodate their busy schedules, for those people who could dine in, table turnover time was often an issue. “Because we had waiter/waitress service it took so long, and there [often] would be a line out the door,” she says.

The traffic backup problem was only going to get worse. A new tower is opening in the spring of 2013, and no foodservice location is going into that location. The new tower, which will feature 90 private rooms, will house the system’s cancer center. The current cancer center’s location will close, including a retail outlet that was in that building. With the influx of staff and visitors coming to the main hospital once the tower opens, Hassinger knew she needed to improve services at the foodservice locations at University Hospital.

In 2010, Main Street Café was overhauled into what Hassinger likens to a quick-service, Panera-like location named Essentials. Items are cooked to order.

Customers receive a pager to let them know when their order is ready. During peak times, food is ready in 10 minutes, a much faster time than service before for those employees who need to grab something on the run.

The menu changed significantly. Whereas Main Street Café offered typical Midwestern fare like country fried steak and biscuits and gravy, at Essentials grab-and-go items are heavily featured and the menu is peppered with flatbread pizzas, artisan sandwiches, sushi and smoothies.

The menu and service style weren’t the only things that were changed. The décor also got a major refresh. Hassinger says the café received mini face-lifts during the years, with a new coat of paint or carpet, but a major overhaul had never been done during her 20 years with the system. With the service change, new equipment was purchased and the space was redesigned to be a relaxing area highlighted with natural colors, plants and soft lighting.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has appointed Cathy Desquesses as its chief people officer, the company announced on Friday.

Before joining Sodexo, Desquesses held multiple leadership roles in the human resources department at General Electric, where she worked for 20 years. Most recently, she was the global HR leader for GE Power Gas.

Desquesses will begin her new role on July 1 and will report to Sodexo CEO Denis Machuel. She will replace Juan Pablo Urruticoechea, who is moving into a new position at Sodexo.

Photo courtesy of Sodexo

Managing Your Business
woman in the kitchen alone

The #MeToo movement has turned sexual harassment into the top labor-related regulatory issue for all employers, triggering action from three out of four companies, according to a new survey on workforce concerns.

About two-thirds (66%) of employers rank the issue among their top two employment-related legal worries, even without a change in the pertinent laws and regulations, the canvass found.

What has changed, concluded surveyor Littler Mendelson, one of the nation’s largest labor-focused legal firms, are employee expectations and the social climate.

“No company...

Managing Your Business
Starbucks college campus

Noncommercial dining centers are often filled with their own Starbucks, Burger Kings, Panera Breads and dozens of other nationally recognized brands. Branded concepts, whether corporate brands or self-operated, offer diners familiar names, menu items, and a sense of place. This translates into more money spent and more diner loyalty for foodservice operators.

However, the success of branded concepts vary greatly. There can be significantly different results depending on whether noncommercial operators decide to franchise, lease or develop their own branded concepts. There’s no one-...

Menu Development
pizza oven

Wood-fired ovens take the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to pizza-cooking preference for consumers. Just fewer than half (45%) of consumers say they prefer a pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven compared to other oven cooking methods. Here are the styles of ovens pizza consumers prefer most.

Wood-fired oven 45% Gas oven 13% Electric oven 11% Grilled 4% Coal oven 4% No preference 23%

Source: Technomic 2018 Pizza Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code