The cafeteria, the highlight of the new Loma Linda Health Troesh tower

Retail catering in medical facilities has taken a hit during the pandemic period as customer numbers plummet due to many administrative staff working offsite, visitors being restricted or prohibited, outpatients use telehealth services instead of coming into the facility and well-meaning Good Samaritans provide free food for staff, reducing on-site meal sales. Nonetheless, a market continues to exist for quality and nutritious on-site catering in healthcare settings, and it’s a market that Loma Linda University Health in California is determined to serve with its spectacular new campus cafeteria. Medical Dennis & Carol Troesh.

The Troesh campus opened last summer with a state-of-the-art 16-story adult hospital tower with 320 licensed beds and a 9-story children’s hospital tower extension that adds 84 licensed pediatric beds to the hospital Loma Linda’s existing children’s play. Features include all private patient rooms, separate emergency rooms for adults and children, and the new cafeteria.

” We have made [the cafeteria] to be really functional for people who need to get in and out quickly, but also have the ability to walk around and look at things with our beautiful open floor plan,” says Jean Sellers, executive director of nutritional services for Loma Linda University Health. In addition to its food, the cafeteria offers an attractive and serene dining area with bamboo pillars, dim lighting, and colorful food images, plus additional outdoor patio seating.

The cafeteria menu is completely meatless in accordance with Seventh-day Adventist Church principles, while the patient menu features meats other than pork and shellfish. The lack of meat-based ingredients, however, did not limit the appeal of the cafeteria’s new menu, although the program had to make other adjustments due to the current conditions occasioned by the pandemic and its aftermath.

Plans for the new cafeteria in Troesh Tower originally called for a series of action stations where staff would create custom dishes for diners, as well as ready-made and ready-to-go selections for those in a hurry, says Sellers. .

However, due to the current staffing challenge, “all of our [serving] the stations are still open,” she notes, “so what we’ve done is create bars with hot and cold ingredients where customers can build their own. It was very well received.

The bars run through a station and offer a rotation of self-service concepts such as a potato bar, falafel bar, pasta bar and the locally popular “haystack” bar, which allows patrons to create a sort of flat taco or tostada style salad incorporating corn chips or tortilla style with veggie “meat”, beans, lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsas that customers build to their own preferences.

Bars are allowed to operate on a self-serve model as long as everything is changed at least once every two hours per state regulations, Sellers says, adding that since everything is changed every time a pan is replenished, this requirement is met. much more frequently than every two hours.

Bars are “one of the compromises we’ve had to make as we don’t have the staff to do things to order for customers, but they’ve actually become one of our most popular [offerings]“, says Sellers, noting that “rotating on a single site allows us flexibility and also provides additional variety for customers”.

In addition to the rotation of the bar concept, the Troesh cafeteria also currently offers a Chibata station where diners can order sandwiches, salads and wraps, and a grill with a fixed menu of different meatless sandwiches and burgers incorporating patties. home or business choices. like Garden Burgers.

Finally, among the outlets currently open, there is a wellness station that serves meals prepared with 400 to 500 calories for customers who want a delicious meal with a set calorie count at an economical price of around $4.00 to $4.20. Selections include various bowls such as a burrito bowl, bibimbap bowl, spring roll bowl, and avocado bowl.

“It’s really a budget meal where they get all their calories, protein, and other good nutrients in one meal,” Sellers notes.

The cafeteria also offers many take-out gourmet salads, sandwiches, and wraps in double-sided coolers that the dining room staff restocks in the back when customers collect their choices from the front of the server.

Still in its infancy, a panini station that will serve hot sandwiches and a pizza station with its own oven that will serve both individual pre-made/ready-to-go pizzas and pizza slices as well as individual pies to order . Vendors say the goal is to open these concepts by the end of February after sufficient staff have been hired and trained.

In the morning, a very popular choice is the various breakfast burritos.

“The great thing is that they’re relatively easy to make, so we can get a lot of customers through really quickly, and I think that’s added to their popularity as well,” Sellers suggests. “Customers really love them not just because of their flavor and variety, but they’re fast, so you can just walk in, grab it, and literally cash out.”

The Troesh cafeteria currently operates between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., which the vendors would like to extend to the originally scheduled 6 a.m. to midnight schedule.

“Due to staffing issues to open more stations, we have reduced our hours,” she explains, “but once we have additional staff, the goal is to return to [staying open until] midnight.”

Another change in catering brought by the new Troesh Towers was the start of in-room patient catering, which operates from a new production kitchen in the complex and is available between 6 a.m. and 9:15 p.m. the last orders being delivered at 10 p.m. The catering staff serve all meals except those for patients in isolation, where the task is carried out by nurses. Patients can either call in their meal orders or go through diet aides who come to the bedside with iPads.

Unlike Loma Linda’s previous approach of volume-producing trays for patient meal service, room service meals at Troesh are prepared fresh and shipped quickly.

“We can prepare meals literally in a minute with our TurboChef oven, and patients are blown away by how quickly they get these freshly prepared meals,” says Sellers.

While meat dishes are offered to patients – in fact, a citrus-marinated salmon dish is one of the most popular on the patient menu – the overall lacto-ovo-vegetarian approach to catering practiced exclusively in retail and overwhelmingly on the patient Ending Meals at Loma Linda University Health has allowed the program to promote the benefits of a plant-based diet, Sellers notes.

“For us, having this fantastic new cafeteria that allows customers to experience not only delicious but affordable vegetarian cuisine, not only separates us from local restaurants, but gives us a great opportunity to learn how you can quickly do things with fresh vegetables and whole grain pastas and other meatless items,” she adds.

Here is a photo tour of the new cafeteria complex at Troesh Medical Campus…

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