Here are the highlights of our healthcare foodservice blogs from this year.
In the face of a global pandemic, we saw healthcare systems pushed to their limits. As we adapted to this new environment in 2020, we saw a change in how healthcare foodservice is handled, from delivery to sanitation to everything in between. Not only were these new solutions designed to keep patients safe, but healthcare staff safe as well.
Here are the highlights of what we saw transpire in healthcare foodservice this year:
Here are the highlights of our senior care foodservice blogs from this year.
Senior care facilities were put on high alert early on during the Coronavirus pandemic. With residents at a higher risk than most, it has been vital for senior care staff to continue to deliver necessary foodservice safely. Meal delivery during COVID-19 has never been as important, and with the right tools, it was being done in a safe, effective manner. The changes we saw over the course of 2020 will no doubt impact how senior care foodservice is handled as we embark on the new year.
Here are the biggest takeaways of the significant changes we witnessed in senior care foodservice in 2020.
Pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan.
Many have prepared for emergencies like fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or mass shootings, but a pandemic was not on the list for the near future. Since being prepared is key to any good action plan, a lot of pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan. Nonetheless, they stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park with response plans created to anticipate the worst, respond immediately, and adapt to the inevitable changes to come. Circumstances differ from hospital to hospital due to location and outbreak, but food service leaders are working hard to keep providing food to patients and staff. Continue reading How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020
In-Room Service Gains Traction Amongst Hospitals & Care Facilities Across The Country
The limitations and closures of gathering points in hospitals due to COVID-19 have impacted in-room service. However, special attention to in-room service was gaining traction well before the pandemic began. Doctors have always said food can be more than fuel for your body, and with the right nutrients, it can help in the healing process too. Some hospitals are using that concept, as well as patient experience, to change the stereotypes of hospital food for the better and improve patient satisfaction. Let’s take a look at three healthcare facilities in particular that have started to take a more hospitality-inspired approach to in-room service.
UCLA HEALTH SYSTEM
Open 6:45 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., UCLA offers a restaurant ordering system where the kitchen cooks meals on-demand with menus updated to physician requested, plant-based meals with protein optional additions. Regularly scheduled tray service is still available to neuropsychiatry patients, which is why UCLA’s kitchen is separated into two sections to cater to both types of services.
Keeping in mind there is a 90-minute window between mealtimes, UCLA staff alternates between making and sending 25 trays to 1 unit in neuropsychiatric care and cooking and delivering room service tickets. This staggered approach has eliminated many challenges associated with offering both services.
Room service at UCLA is promised to arrive within 45 minutes but averages 28 minutes. What’s their secret? Food lifts.
Each floor has a dedicated cart with a timer for seven minutes. The cart is wheeled into the lift, sent up to its designated floor, and the patient is immediately notified. To ensure quality, the cart enters into a pantry where hot and cold additions are added just before being taken to the patient, and the meal is delivered with food and drinks at the correct temperatures.
JOHNS HOPKINS HEALTH SYSTEM
John Hopkins offers Hotel-style, on-demand room service to their patients. They name this style of service the Johns Hopkins At Your Request program. Doctors realized there was a lot of food waste when they had patients ordering the day before, resulting in many being unavailable to receive their meals.
The John Hopkins At You Request program gives patients the flexibility to order their meals anytime between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and receive it within 60 minutes. To better accommodate nutritional diets prescribed to patients, John Hopkins also provides a nutritional department to help assist in meal decisions. Their diverse menu options are a significant factor in the success of the program.
The freedom to choose between traditional hospital foods like meatloaf and upscale items like salmon makes the patient feel satisfied with their meal experience, even when they don’t order the extravagant items. In fact, the majority stick with the traditional items, while the occasional upscale orders bring comfort to patients and family members who need it.
ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
St. Jude’s primary focus is on young patients and their families. Patients aren’t limited to in-hospital care, as many of their outpatients go through treatment at nearby housing sponsored by St. Jude and receive their customized meals there. They use a Combi Oven to deliver quality food within expectations of 30 – 45 minutes. As for their future plans for servie? They’re expected to upgrade their systems to TV-operated ordering services and explore newer cooking technologies. Nonetheless, their specialty is in the services they provide.
Considering the age of their patients, their happiness is a priority. The chef often greets patients with a hug and smile, with meals that are fully specialized to encourage the patient to eat and heal. So much so, that patients have even gone to the kitchen to teach the chefs how to make their food!
Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have become hyper-aware of the importance of proper hand hygiene. Yet, there still exist various misconceptions regarding the proper way to wash hands, while others still downplay the value of regular handwashing. In fact, the benefits of washing your hands with soap and water go beyond reducing the transmission of coronaviruses. As societies across the globe continue to promote the importance of regular handwashing in a way that leads to a sustained improvement in hand hygiene, there are many positive outcomes that this can lead to outside of the coronavirus pandemic.
Proper Handwashing: A Review
Before we delve into the possible outcomes for regular handwashing, let’s discuss what we (think) we already know: Proper handwashing. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a flood of information educating people around the globe on proper hand hygiene in an effort to slow the virus’ spread. Government health agencies, including the WHO and the US-based CDC, provided excellent, detailed information to assist this movement. According to the CDC, the handwashing checklist is as follows:
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Along with the various governmental promotions for hand hygiene, governments began encouraging celebrities and social media influencers to promote proper hand hygiene through the #handwashingchallenge. Before long, most of our social media feeds were overwhelmed with videos of athletes from Allison Becker of Brazil’s National soccer team, to movie stars to the likes of Hugh Jackman, encouraging hand hygiene to their millions of followers.
Before long, most of the world was stuck in a dizzying frenzy of hectic handwashing after touching any public surface, where many people began reporting severe dry hands due to excessive handwashing. Additionally, more specific questions began to arise, such as; How hard should I scrub my hands? – or – Is there such a thing as too much handwashing?
Mistakes and Misconceptions of Handwashing
As our handwashing becomes more frequent, many of us have inadvertently picked up bad habits in our hand hygiene. The most common being washing our hands too forcefully or too frequently. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, you should wash your hands at the following times:
After arriving at home
After coughing or blowing your nose
Before making or eating food
After playing with animals
After using the toilet
After being outdoors
Before and after changing contact lenses
Notice that it did not mention anything about vigorously washing your hands every 5 minutes from COVID-induced paranoia? All joking aside, the age-old truth regarding moderation in everything applies to handwashing as well. According to an article from Medscape Medical News, many of us are scrubbing our hands too hard, impacting an important top layer of our skin that helps keep germs away. It goes on to detail the fine line between rubbing versus scrubbing with Carrie Kovarik, MD from the Perelman School of Medicine remarking, “You don’t want to scrub because scrubbing will damage the skin barrier and possibly let in germs.” Instead of forcefully scrubbing our hands, doctors recommend gently washing hands in “a hand-over-hand motion, from palm to palm, back of the hands, around nails and up to the wrists.”
Possible Outcomes of Regular Handwashing
Now that we have established a clear picture of what proper hand hygiene looks like, we can imagine what outcomes might arise from regular handwashing. With the world’s attention focused on proper hand hygiene, many are wondering how this might impact population health outside of the COVID-19 pandemic. We can make many assumptions based on small scale benefits to populations and extrapolating those results across larger populations. Although these benefits are only potential outcomes, it is exciting to imagine the possibilities that can come about from this increased focus in hand hygiene.
In 2016, a study published in the Baltimore Medicine Journal observed a correlation between increased hand-washing and a reduction in influenza at a statistically significant level. Participants in the study were given a handwashing score based on the availability of washing stations and the availability of soap, among other factors. They were then evaluated for their protective effect towards confirmed influenza, and the researchers observed and analyzed which behaviors correlated with the groups with the highest protective effect. The highest behaviors associated with a high protective effect were frequent handwashing, the availability of soap for handwashing, and reduced levels of hand-to-face touching.
This study is one of many that organizations like the CDC and WHO refer to when making recommendations to national/international populations during a time of a pandemic. As we are all aware of the importance of handwashing in the reduction of COVID-19, this behavior is proven to reduce the spread of influenza and other respiratory diseases as well. With this being said, it is possible that given the rapid, worldwide development in hand hygiene, we could be seeing lower levels of seasonal respiratory sicknesses in the future.
Decline in Healthcare-associated Infections
According to data from the CDC regarding healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), on a given day, about 3% of hospital patients has at minimum one HAI. Hospitals across the world are always looking for ways to reduce this statistic, as hospitalized individuals are often the most vulnerable to experience complications from infections. There are many common practices that hospitals enact to tackle this issue, with one of them being.. you guessed it, handwashing.
Healthcare workers follow strict protocols to ensure they are maintaining a clean environment for their patients and not tracking problematic pathogens throughout a facility. Handwashing is an important common practice that has been proven to reduce the risk of transmission of HAIs according to a 2002 CDC study. This is why most hospitals have sinks in patient rooms and also why we, at Lakeside, offer portable handwashing stations for areas that don’t have built-in sinks available.
If population health increases due to improved hand hygiene, hospitals could see a decrease in the number of potential illnesses entering a hospital environment. On a large scale, this could lead to an overall reduction in HAIs and improvements in patient health.
Improvement of Child Development in Developing Countries
In 2003 the CDC performed a study to monitor the effects of hygiene on child development and observed interesting results. When comparing groups who received an extensive 9 month hygiene promotion and soap against groups who did not receive the same hygiene education nor supplies, the children experienced nearly half as much diarrhea-related sicknesses than the control group in their first 2 ½ years of their lives, which is a critical time for child development. 6 years later, the children from the study were reevaluated for cognitive development. The children who received hygiene education and hygiene supplies scored higher than the control group. According to the study, the findings suggest that “handwashing promotion could be an important strategy for improving child welfare.”
Given the increased awareness around the world regarding proper hand hygiene and the increased availability of hygiene resources, it may be possible that the effects of the CDC study transfer to the real world. If this were to happen, we may see improvements in child development on a grand scale, as children in developed countries avoid illness and chronic inflammation related to diarrhea-linked diseases.
Reduction in Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotic resistance is an issue of growing importance in the world. This takes place when bacteria evolves to overcome the intended effects of a given antibiotic. Various infections rely on antibiotics for treatment. If a bacteria develops antibiotic resistance, this has the potential to transform a curable sickness into a deadly illness.
The CDC states that the leading factor in antibiotic resistance is overuse of antibiotics. Many times, antibiotics are prescribed to individuals when they are not needed, leading to an increased risk of a bacteria developing antibiotic resistance. Research by the CDC indicates that handwashing leads to a reduction in diarrhea-related sicknesses and respiratory infections, diseases that are often unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics for treatment. Therefore, some speculate that a reduction in these diseases, due to handwashing or other factors, could impact global rates of antibiotic resistance.
The New Normal
Our world has quickly transformed into a hyper-aware, germaphobic one due to the brisk rise of the coronavirus pandemic, however, perhaps this acute awareness was long overdue. If international populations continue to emphasize hand hygiene in their COVID-19 responses and this leads to a sustained improvement in hand hygiene; we could see many beneficial outcomes that improve world populations beyond the pandemic. We have long been aware of the importance of hand hygiene in hospitals, schools and densely populated areas. Due to the sudden change in human behavior regarding hand hygiene, it is exciting to consider what possible outcomes might arise. As healthcare professionals, we will keep promoting proper hand hygiene and at Lakeside, we will continue to offer products that promote access to handwashing.