In light of the successes that have been exhibited by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in recent years, and being one of Computrition’s well-regarded customers since 2001, we thought it worthwhile to get a preview inside their operations and discover the essence that causes this hospital to spearhead the lead in healthcare foodservice. We had the privilege of having a Q&A session with MSKCC’s reputable Director of Food & Nutrition Services, Veronica McLymont, PhD, RD, who expands her scope of expertise in clinical and nutritional healthcare management with a doctorate degree in the area of Organizational Leadership. Let’s see what MSKCC is up to!
How is MSKCC getting involved in the education of future healthcare foodservice professionals?
“MSKCC is the first hospital to partner with the Culinary Institute of America, granting 10 students the opportunity to intern each year. This involves field trips that give future chefs the chance to observe first-hand, the dynamics of healthcare foodservice operations. It also shows the importance of innovative cooking in healthcare settings. Students will understand the importance of healthcare chefs, and recognize how a chef is involved in the patients’ healing process. This experience also helps students to see that creativity is not limited solely to the restaurant industry but exceedingly appropriate for the evolving field of healthcare. Learning to incorporate creative culinary techniques, such as camouflaging flavors, is a prime example that puree doesn’t have to be tasteless anymore. For example, children tend to be picky eaters so making food that is appealing to them becomes a wonderful challenge.”
Explain some of the benefits obtained from your upscale Room Service:
“Managing a premier hospital’s Food and Nutrition Services Department is rewarding because we witness the successful union between clinical and culinary staff. Nutrition care give hospitals with a Room Service program a competitive edge. In addition to quality medical care, a quality meal service program has the potentials for patients to rate us highly and recommend us to friends and family. Offering Room Service that conveys a hotel ambiance gives a hospital the opportunity to serve food with a flare! This shows in our patient satisfaction rankings. They are pleased with the quality of food and service. We consistently receive positive responses from patients. In fact, we often get requests for recipes and for the chef’s autograph.”
What future plans do you foresee relative to healthcare foodservice technology?
“We look forward to integrating the TV ordering solution into the bed-side ordering process, as it will be easier for patients and help us save time. Another innovative and interactive idea we have in mind is to feature food demonstration cooking for patients, using a portable kitchen in designated areas. Since cooking shows now naturally attract an audience, and patients are responsive to information about nutrition, a portable kitchen will be a great way for patients to interact with our dietitians and chefs.”
What differentiates your foodservice team from other hospitals?
“Recruiting employees with unique culinary training is imperative. When we recruit for our culinary staff, we invite candidates to prepare and present a sample meal. We value the talent of our staff. A fulfilled and satisfied workforce is important to employee retention. To nurture this, our department hosts an annual contest among the culinary staff. Here we encourage inventive cooking and healthy competition that give the team a chance to showcase their skills. At the end we recognize and award them with medals.
While we want employees to continue to excel in their respective jobs, we also want them to understand the important role they play in positive patient care outcomes. This requires the human element. A ‘well staff equals well patients.’ In an effort to support MSKCC’s Employee Wellness initiatives, we offer nutrition counseling, cooking demos and nutrition lunch-n-learn series. We plan to expand the frequency of these events in the future.”
Computrition extends a big thank you to Veronica for taking the time to share her insight of how technology, good leadership and a people-centric focus are the basic ingredients that make up MSKCC.