If any one segment of the foodservice industry has worked tirelessly to shed its negative image from generations past and become a cornerstone of the communities it serves, that segment is healthcare foodservice. Years ago foodservice seemed to be an afterthought for many healthcare operations. Today, though, foodservice takes many forms and plays a leading role in helping healthcare facilities achieve their ultimate mission: serving patients and their support networks.


Take, for example, the Cancer Treatment Centers of America's (CTCA) new Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Newnan, Ga., where food and nutrition services play an integral role in the care process (page 12). This location's foodservice facilities include the Café, which serves a mostly organic menu; a 120-seat dining room with a 40-seat outdoor patio; a coffee shop; room service meal delivery for patients and their caregivers; and a servery and dining room for staff members, whom CTCA refers to as "stakeholders."

As designer James Camacho points out, this facility is remarkable because, in addition to meeting patients' needs, it takes into account the nutritional requirements of their caregiver networks as well. The net result is an operation in which foodservice truly helps to support the healing process for all involved.

Many healthcare foodservice operators face the daunting task of balancing the needs of their rapidly growing retail operations along with their inpatient services. A shining example of how to accomplish this without compromising quality or service is UNC Health Care (page 8) in North Carolina. Led by 2013 IFMA Silver Plate Award-winner Angelo Mojica, each day UNC deftly handles 5,500 retail transactions while serving 1,800 inpatient meals on average. In fact, between retail and catering revenues, UNC Health Care's foodservice generates an astounding $10.2 million in revenue each year.

Of course, results like this don't happen overnight. Rather, UNC Health Care's success is the result of a three-year process to replace a series of contracted venues one by one with proprietary brands carefully developed by Mojica and his team. Today, UNC Health Care has 20 retail brands serving 5 different venues. And like most commercial operators, Mojica and his team remain diligent in their efforts to sharpen the image of their brands through consistent service, graphics and more.
As healthcare operations continue to grow and evolve, so too must the foodservice facilities that support them. At the University of Rochester Medical Center's Strong Memorial Hospital, the overall employee population grew to 10,000 people from 2,500 over the years. While foodservice rolled with this growth for as long as it could, it became apparent the now 38-year-old cafeteria required a renovation to help improve customer flow and modernize the operation. The net result is Café 601 (page 20), a marketplace-style dining environment that serves 3,000 customers a day and puts equipment on display in an open, fresh setting. After the Café's first 2 months of operation, revenues were already up 20 percent.

While commercial restaurants may be the glamorous part of the foodservice industry, healthcare operators continue to diligently move the needle forward on both the patient care and retail fronts, an impressive balancing act that deserves our attention.