Carilion Clinic's central kitchen, a 30,000 sq. ft. free-standing structure in Roanoke, VA, that occupies the same campus as the central materials management and central laundry buildings, was built a little more than five years ago. The clinic entered a relationship with FoodService Partners at that time, a company that builds, renovates, equips and operates high-volume central production cook-chill kitchens.
Becky Ellis, senior director of dining and nutrition services for Carilion Clinic, has found that just having room for excess production is a huge advantage in more ways than one at a hospital system that's growing. When a new building goes up, Ellis says, there's significant space — and dollars — to be saved when considering cafés and eating areas.
“We can build a new café but without a kitchen,” she says, explaining that daily deliveries will be made from the central kitchen. For Carilion cafes without kitchens, deliveries are made — a limited menu of full meals, and a huge selection of grab ‘n go offerings such as sandwiches, wraps and salads.
This partnership helps the clinic to meet the needs of its seven hospitals in southwestern Virginia. When new hospitals are acquired by the clinic, the central kitchen is able to identify and meet their needs, and tailor each interaction for the good of the system as a whole, Ellis says. “Carilion is growing by leaps and bounds,” she says. “As we add hospitals, we connect them with the central kitchen and see what their needs are. Delivery frequencies vary, depending on their geographic location.”
Having the option to market more of the kitchen's excess capacity to outside entities is a way to beef up the bottom line, Ellis says. Right now, there's one main customer, another hospital, and several other healthcare operations that have contracts just for pre-portioned puddings and special low-fat desserts.
The clinic is “always looking for more clients,” Ellis says. Next year, a new Virginia Tech medical center café will become a client.