In any year, being chosen for the annual DC Health Director’s Award is a big deal. But throw in the curveball that was 2020, and you’ve got a real-deal accomplishment to be extra proud of. That’s the vibe at Washington, DC’s Children’s National Hospital, where the Morrison Healthcare foodservice team has demonstrated a true understanding of food safety in a rapidly changing world.
One a few food establishments were chosen for this award, out of more than 6,500 places in the DC area. Keeping up with the times was a key factor.
At the hospital, food safety has always been an obvious concern, but COVID-19 added so many increased challenges “that required us to continue our same service, but with additional PPE, sanitation, social distancing and touchless technology and service,” says Genevieve Potvin, senior director of food and nutrition services with Morrison Healthcare at Children’s National.
“We found safety disciplines must be broader, deeper, more frequent and include new technologies,” Potvin says. “We began to utilize and add to our technology, adding order kiosks and touchless payment.”
Additionally, the robot Sally Salad Machine by Chowbotics joined the team. Speaking of staffing, like everywhere in the industry, the foodservice operation here has been challenged with this issue. Their solution? Cross training.
“Staffing was initially a challenge, but we build strength and synergy within our department by cross training,” Potvin says. “We also converted an open management position to a human resource manager position that help create our own talent pool of staff.”
It turns out staffing and safety are interrelated at the hospital. Finding the right talent and recognizing associates for the work they do is “critical to our success when it comes to safety,” Potvin says. The right team, along with “continuous training, consistency and accountability for food safety standards is what has earned us this recognition.”