Living our values: Patient Food and Nutrition Services

October 6, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Approximately a 5-minute read

Key takeaways

  • Patient Food and Nutrition Services (PFANS) integrates our Michigan Medicine core values into their daily work through a number of initiatives.
  • PFANS initiatives demonstrate our core values, and work to enhance the experience of our patients, employees, and community.
  • Check out The Wrap podcast episode below to learn more about the important work our PFANS team does.

Across Michigan Medicine, faculty and staff work hard to carry out exceptional patient care, education and research.

Part of those efforts are centered around the organization’s core values. Every day, you can find extraordinary examples of caring, inclusion, innovation, integrity and teamwork.

In honor of Health Care Food Service Workers Week, here is a closer look at how Patient Food and Nutrition Services — or PFANS — is living out these values daily.

Caring

When you think about PFANS, you often envision cooks in the hospital kitchens, call center representatives who take orders over the phone or staff members who deliver nutritious food to each of the organization’s inpatient rooms.

But you may not think about the logistics that go into such an operation. That’s why the team launched the “Shoes for Crews” program.

Through the initiative, the department provides slip resistant shoes backed by warranty. The purpose of the program is to prevent skidding, slipping and falling — particularly for team members who work in wet areas such as where dishware is washed after use.

“Being in this industry now for almost 20 years, I have been through a number of different work shoes and styles and know firsthand how difficult it can be to find the right pair that is not only comfortable for a full day of work but can also provide the slip resistant safety required to work in a kitchen,” said Ashleigh Isaacs, food service manager. “The Shoes for Crews program has allowed staff to have access to a high-quality shoe that meets comfort and safety standards that they may not have been able find or purchase on their own. I firmly believe the program has led to greater employee job satisfaction while maintaining a ‘safety first’ approach!”

The numbers bear out Isaacs’ observation: Nearly 90% of the staff who have participated in the program have expressed satisfaction with it.

Inclusion

Food service manager and diversity, equity and inclusion lead Michelle Melotti, M.B.A., brought bystander intervention training to the entire food service team. The training employed job-specific role playing to engage staff and foster a more inclusive environment.

“The most impactful part of the training was seeing a staff member tie the concept of the scenario in with their own personal experience and feeling comfortable sharing it with the group,” Melotti said. “This has led to meaningful conversations and a stronger understanding of the impact of our words and actions.”

Innovation

In May, the department’s room service and room service call center teams — in coordination with the bedside implementation team — activated a bedside “Let’s Eat” application in MyChart.

The new feature allows patients to access appropriate room service menus based on their individual diet needs. They also have access to large print menus and menus in Arabic, Spanish and Chinese.

“The electronic menus are nice for patients, especially when the space is limited inside a patient’s room,” said Jocelyne Clancy, M.S., R.D.N., room service call center manager. “I recall a few times a patient could not locate their menu when they got through to the meal order line. The tablet is helpful to keep everything in one spot.”

Integrity

Every month, the PFANS Safety Committee rounds on a different unit or area of operation to reinforce high reliability principles and address safety concerns. Those concerns are then escalated and addressed with transparency through the rounding process.

According to food service worker II Seneka Harris, safety management is essential in all areas of the department.

“[Safety rounding] not only ensures our patient safety, but our employee safety, as well,” Harris said. “Without it, we could have a lot of unnecessary injuries and/or accidents happen that could have been prevented.”

Teamwork

Every month, PFANS provides more than 9,000 meals to homebound neighbors in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti through the Meals on Wheels program.

It’s an effort made in collaboration with Community Health Services at Michigan Medicine.

How much teamwork goes into Meals on Wheels? Consider this: U-M Health Executive Chef Curtis Stevens creates MOW menus with input from the staff who prepare the food. Then the Meals on Wheels registered dietitian nutritionist evaluates the menus. Food service workers then make the food and another team packages and prepares it for delivery. At that point, MOW volunteers pick up the meals and deliver them to program participants.

When presented in 2016 with the opportunity to join the team responsible for preparing and packaging food for Meals on Wheels, Carletta Richardson — who has worked in PFANS since 1988 — said she “didn’t even hesitate.” 

Richardson begins her day at 5 a.m., but she said it is more than worth it and she works to prepare the food as if she’s preparing it for her own family.

“It’s all about the community and people we’re helping. I’m doing it for other peoples’ parents,” she said. “I just want the people to be happy with what they’re receiving.”

If you want to learn more about the important work this team does, check out The Wrap employee podcast below! And thank you to all the food service workers at Michigan Medicine for everything you do every day! 

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