Diana Toche, an Arkansas Children's Northwest (ACNW) patient food host, starts her shift at 7 a.m. and works more than 12 hours. By assigning nutritional service workers or patient hosts to these extended shifts, patients can rely on the same familiar face to deliver every meal. This consistency provides emotional comfort to patients, reducing stress during a hospital stay. To compensate for working longer days, Toche and her colleagues work fewer days each week, allowing patient hosts to rest, stay alert and focus on safety.
Each shift begins with soap and sanitizer buckets. Cleaning products are precisely measured in parts per million (PPM). Frequent hand sanitizing and the correct PPM of cleaning supplies keep food surfaces free of bacteria. Additionally, patient hosts wear precautionary gear to protect patients when delivering food trays. With the necessary safety elements in place, Toche creates trays specific to each patient’s needs.
Each food tray is tracked as carefully as the U.S. mail. Patient hosts use iPads to track:
- when patients order trays
- when the tickets are loaded into the cart
- when the trays leave the kitchen
- when the tray is delivered
- and when the tray is recovered
Precise tracking ensures patients get fed according to their treatment schedule and prevents food waste from becoming a potential hazard.
In between food deliveries for patients, nutritional service workers attend to the areas where staff, patients and their families and caregivers gather. Toche gets a workout pushing carts of drinks, snacks, sandwiches, cups and utensils to restock communal refrigerators and workstations.
Routine and recharge
The routine of cleaning, filling orders, delivering trays, collecting trays and restocking shared spaces is repeated with every meal.
Throughout her shift, Toche takes care of her own nutritional needs to give her the energy she needs to provide the best service possible for the patients at ACNW.
Safety is a core value at Arkansas Children’s. Every team member, whether a pediatric surgeon or patient host, practices safety for the sake of our patients every day.