Eastern Health Introduces new hours of operation for rural cafeterias

Published on November 8, 2012
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Eastern Health has announced new hours of operation for some rural hospital cafeterias that provide non-patient food service), including the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre, Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville and the Carbonear General Hospital.

The new hours of operation will start Nov. 19. Cafeteria services will be available Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

In May 2012, Eastern Health announced that it would be implementing “operational improvement initiatives” over the next two fiscal years to improve its overall operations and to return the organization to a balanced budget position.  

The health authority said in a news release today, once fully achieved, these initiatives will result in a savings of $43 million and will eliminate 550 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions from the organization. An FTE is a measure used by organizations not to count actual people but to count positions or hours of work that are equivalent to a full-time position.

Eastern Health said its initiatives were developed through a benchmarking process in which the operations at Eastern Health were compared with similar organizations across the country.

Managers were also asked to recommend initiatives that would not have an impact on the quality and safety of care patients receive.

The health authority said no permanent employees are to be laid off as a result of the initiatives and positions will be eliminated through attrition, “the gradual, voluntary reduction of employees through resignation and retirement.”

 Among its initiatives was a plan for Eastern Health to discontinue subsidizing retail food services at its rural sites. The health authority said a further review determined that by reducing the hours of operation, limiting the food selections and eliminating 3.3 FTEs, efficiencies could be found that would mean that these services would no longer be subsidized by Eastern Health. Permanent employees impacted have been assigned to another service within Eastern Health.

 “Adjusting the hours of rural, acute care hospital cafeterias will enable us to reduce our high operating costs in this area, while still providing quality food services to those who visit our facilities,” said George Butt, vice-president with responsibility for support services.

 “Implementing initiatives such as this will allow us to become more effective in how we operate, without having any negative impact on the level, quality and safety of the programs and services that we offer, or laying off any permanent employee,” Butt said.

 With the adjustment of hours of operations, the cafeterias at the Burin Health Centre and the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital will no longer be open from 5 to 6:30 p.m. effective Nov.19,. For the Carbonear General Hospital, the changes in hours of operations will mean the cafeteria will close at 1:30 p.m. on weekdays, compared to being open now until 6:45 p.m. and it will no longer be open on weekends and statutory holidays.

“These cafeterias will continue to provide a wide variety of self-serve menu items, such as beverages, soup, specialty and traditional salads and sandwiches, ready-to-eat entrees, baked goods, and a wide variety of deserts,” said Butt. “Vending services for beverages and snacks will continue to remain accessible 24-hours a day at all facilities.”

 Eastern Health’s rural acute care and long-term facilities in the eastern region have kitchens on site for food preparation, and are managed by Aramark Canada, while acute care facilities in the city along with the Dr. L. A. Miller Centre and the Hoyles-Escasoni Complex, are served by Central Kitchen and are managed by Morrison Foods.

 Eastern Health said it is also determining how it will change retail, non-patient food services at other sites to eliminate subsidies and how it will reduce the cost of food preparation for inpatients, while at the same time improve food services with the option to outsource food preparation for inpatients.