The cafeteria at Carbonear General Hospital is about to have its hours of operation slashed significantly.
Eastern Health announced Nov. 8 that the cafeteria will operate from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, and will no longer open on weekends and statutory holidays, beginning Nov. 19.
Traditionally, the cafeteria (non-patient food services) has closed at 6:45 p.m.
Similar reductions are being imposed the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre and the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville.
The measures are part of an initiative by Eastern Health to save $43 million and eliminate 550 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions over the next two years.
Eastern Health announced in May that it would improve its overall operations and return the organization to a balanced budget position.
In an effort to achieve better performance for the organization, managers were asked to recommend initiatives that would not have an impact on the quality and safety of care patients receive. Further, no permanent employees are to be laid off as a result of the initiatives and positions will be eliminated through attrition which is the gradual, voluntary reduction of employees through resignation and retirement.
By discontinuing the subsidy of retail food services at its rural sites, the health organization will eliminate three full-time equivalent positions. The permanent employees impacted have been assigned to another service within Eastern Health.
The measures will also mean food selections will be limited.
“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.”
He added: “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. 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 of St. John's, 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 is also determining how it will change retail, non-patient food services at other sites to eliminate subsidies. Further, Eastern Health is determining 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.