Rush’s floor galleys cut late tray wait time significantly.
Imagine you’re a hospital patient, just back to your room after a long morning undergoing tests. You’re starving, but discover you’ve missed mealtime. The nurse promises to get you something, but apologizes it will take 45 minutes to an hour.
Chances are, you’ll remember your experience later, when asked to rate your satisfaction with hospital services.
It is also something that Rush University Medical Center in Chicago remembered when planning the infrastructure for its new, 300-bed patient towers, which opened earlier this year. In them, a series of four galley kitchens makes it possible to quickly accommodate late tray situations like this as well as other last-minute diet changes.
The galleys—each shoehorned into about 100 square feet—allow staff to provide meal choices, from fruit plates and cereal to sandwiches, soups and omelets, quickly. Patient wait times in the above situation are cut to 15 to 20 minutes.
“Now, if a patient changes his mind about a meal order, we have a quick solution,” says Mary Gregoire, PhD, RD, director of the F&N Department.
“The time it took for late trays was an ongoing issue, but since the change we’ve seen a substantial increase in satisfaction scores.”
The galleys offer dry and cooler storage as well as production equipment like a microwave, coffeemaker and turbo oven. There’s also a small undercounter dish machine.
They require no additional staffing, an important consideration when foodservice for the new towers was being planned. The individual who operates the galley also performs other in-unit tasks like passing trays and cleaning. Access is through badge swipe and is generally restricted to the F&N staffer plus security personnel. Nurses have no access privileges.
Each galley averages about a dozen trays daily, an acceptable tradeoff for the impact they’ve had, Gregoire says.
“We had to train galley staff, since that was not a task they previously performed. Otherwise, the impact on operations has been minimal.”
Gregoire stresses that most meals are still provided via traditional tray service (Rush considered but rejected room service because of added labor cost). Galleys also have not replaced traditional nourishment rooms where nurses can get snacks and juices for patients at any time.