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Food Services makes adjustments as part of virus response

Apr. 16, 2020, 10:21 AM

The seating capacity at the Courtyard Café has been purposely reduced by 80% during the pandemic. (photo by Donn Jones)

by Paul Govern

Stop by the Courtyard Café at Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital and you’ll see that COVID-19 has wrought some obvious changes.

A social distancing plan is in place and the cafeteria’s seating capacity has been purposely reduced by around 80%, with many dining tables and chairs now temporarily stacked against the walls.

With three kitchens and 250 employees, Food Services serves patients in VUAH and Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, operates cafeterias for both hospitals, and supports three campus coffee shops.

According to Matthew Harms, administrative director, food and nutrition, the volume of meals for adult inpatients is down by half and in Children’s Hospital, inpatient meals are down by around 40%. Meals served in the cafeterias are down by half.

The cafeterias are offering more prepared salads and bottled beverages, because salad bars, soda fountains and other self-serve points have closed down to help patrons avoid touching the same surfaces.

Harms said daily departmental huddles in Food Services have lately largely been devoted to employee information concerning COVID-19.

“Last week we shared a story of how a patient came off a ventilator,” Harms said. “In our huddles, success stories about our COVID patients are some of the most popular information we can share. I also recently read out to the group an article about research studies happening here.

“That type of news really makes everyone understand why Vanderbilt exists and why what we do is very, very important.”

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