Dinner time at the average household can sometimes give the appearance of carefully controlled chaos.
For our nutrition services supervisors and managers, dinner time takes on an entirely different meaning – let’s call it carefully constructed choreography.
“Our department is responsible for 900 patients per day and about 1,000 meals to employees and visitors each day,” says Angie Berg, nutrition services supervisor at University of Minnesota Medical Center. “And all of that goes along with providing food, coffee and beverages to family lounges, staff lounges, clinics and unit nourishment kitchens throughout the West Bank campus.”
That amount of work is maintained and supported by a dedicated team of employees. Dietitians create and adjust the menus, food service employees make and serve the meals and the nutrition services supervisors and managers do a little bit of everything.
Menu planning and beyond
Wendy Braski, nutrition services supervisor at Fairview Lakes Medical Center, says her focus is on making sure their daily operations are met.
This includes routine things such as staffing (from hiring to payroll to scheduling) and patient meals (both service and menu planning) to broader projects and initiatives.
“We have to ensure we are following regulatory requirements from the Minnesota Department of Health as well as make sure we are meeting the Partnership for a Healthier America guidelines,” says Wendy. “We can also get involved in some ordering, catering or really anything else that comes our way that was not planned.”
“Most of the challenges we face occur behind the scenes, and that is why I am so proud of the team I work with,” says Angie. “We may be experiencing critical staffing issues, product shortages or technical difficulties, but the patients, visitors and staff still receive all their meals and nourishment.”
Wendy, who has been with Fairview for 19 years and at Fairview Lakes Medical Center since its opening, says she always wanted to work in a hospital and went to school for dietetics.
“I love to help and serve others, and enjoy cooking, so this was a natural choice for me,” she says. “One of the favorite parts of my job is the interaction with a variety of people, from coworkers to customers to sales representatives and delivery personnel, and of course, patients and their families.”
Beyond the kitchen
That satisfaction has also continued for the past three years through the Project SEARCH Program, a partnership between Fairview Lakes Medical Center and Forest Lake Area Schools that provides workplace training to individuals with developmental disabilities.
Our staff has been able to host interns throughout the school year with the goal of helping them learn skills that will allow them to go out into the workplace, find a job and obtain some independence.
“I have been so proud of the staff in the nutrition department that has embraced this,” says Wendy. “We have also learned so much from our interns.”
For Angie, who worked as a restaurant manager for 28 years, it’s the support from her team that inspires her work every day.
“This role has really let me utilize my previous experience while also offering me a chance to impact patients in a positive way,” she says. “I am so proud of the team work with my employees, and their expressions of confidence in me and my leadership ability have made the transition to health care such a positive one.”
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