(Continued from page 1)

Back in 1998, Lee Memorial had partnered with another hospital, Sarasota Memorial Health, on an innovative regional initiative called LeeSar. Originally designed to give the hospitals purchasing leverage (through an entity called Cooperative Services of Florida) as well as provide economies of scale by consolidating service functions like equipment repair, LeeSar was originally located in a modest 60,000-sq.ft. facility. But, as was becoming increasingly obvious, it could not support LeeSar management’s ambitious plans.

Led by visionary CEO Bob Simpson, LeeSar was looking to expand into a much broader array of support services, from centralized procurement and the receiving, storing and redistribution of bulk-purchased medical supplies, to equipment repair, medical device sterilization, surgical tray assembly and the repackaging of bulk purchased pharmaceuticals.

The site for such a consolidated facility was identified in 2009 when LMHS decided to close Southwest Regional Hospital and use the site for a new, larger LeeSar facility that could handle all the consolidated operations the consortium was looking to initiate. Happily, the dining operation was able to piggyback on the project (Southwest Regional was later consolidated with Gulf Coast Hospital as Gulf Coast Medical Center).

The new facility provided space for LMHS to construct a much-expanded central production operation at a fraction (as much as a quarter by some estimates) of what it would have cost had it been built at one of the hospital sites.

Construction on the $40 million LeeSar facility began in 2011 and it opened for business on a limited basis the following year, serving not just original partners LMHS and Sarasota Memorial but two new members, Central Florida Health Alliance and Huntsville (AL) Hospital, as well.

Better Patient Menus

Culinary Solutions began producing meals for LMHS sites by late 2012 (LeeSar serves all four partners with its consolidated services and cooperative purchasing, but only LMHS currently uses the centralized meal production facilities).

The offsite production operation allows LMHS to offer patients a modified room service system that combines a meal preorder system with on-demand service that lets them make meal requests all day. The pre-orders help anticipate production requirements and allocate labor efficiently. At Lee Memorial Hospital, for example, about 60% of the 800 daily patient meals are preorders.

A central call center handles meal requests and takes nutrition related questions, having access to patient dietary restrictions and to menu nutritional profiles. The call center also allocates two of its service representatives to contacting new admissions to welcome them to the program and explain the patient dining system.