Julie Jones, director of nutrition services at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has headed her fair share of projects. She led her team through the medical center’s seven-year expansion, which included the construction of a 400-bed, in-patient tower that opened in December 2014. During the medical center’s expansions, Jones saw her department through a growth in meal volume from 1.9 million annual meals in 2005 to 2.8 million annual meals in 2012. Through it all, she maintains a focus on the future, even when budgets are limited.
1. Coordinating Construction
Jones liaised with hospital administrators, architects, equipment manufacturers and contractors throughout renovations, which included a redo of the hospital’s main cafe. During the buildout, Jones’ team still managed to produce 3 million meals a year from the existing kitchen space. “We had a people plan, a technology plan and a financial plan,” she says. “We had to pull all those things together to make it all fit.”
2. Implementing on-demand dining
Jones initiated a meal program that mimics a room-service model. Patients can order meals tailored to their dietary needs. Food is prepared in a central kitchen using a cook-chill method. Then it is transported to a finishing kitchen, where it is heated and delivered to the patients. This model allows staff to streamline food production and manage costs while producing customized meals.
3. Turning to tech
To help execute the room-service model and other advancements in the hospital’s foodservice delivery, Jones has employed technology tools, such as tablets. To better utilize her workforce, she opted out of a traditional call center. Instead, nutrition aides come to the patients’ bedsides and take meal orders on tablets. On the retail side, self-ordering kiosks, used by 1,000 customers a day, allow guests to customize exactly what they want and help speed up the process.“[It’s been] a huge, huge satisfier,” says Jones.