Recent History – 2000
Feb. 2, 2000, By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
The South Peace Health Council (SPHC) is planning to make some major changes to the food service operation as part of the new Rotary Manor.The SPHC will be asking the Ministry of Health to consolidate the service at the site, currently spread between four facilities, as a way to not only save money but to improve the quality of the food that patients eat.
But with construction of the new Rotary Manor almost ready to begin, SPHC chair Sheila Barnes said they don’t have long to wait for an answer from the province. “Should there be any indication at all that there won’t be any answer, council will withdraw its request,” she said.
Instead, the SPHC would resort to a back-up plan that would consolidate food services at Dawson Creek and District Hospital. But the new Rotary Manor is preferred because using that site would be about $500,000 cheaper than the hospital in construction costs.
SPHC chief executive officer Rick Robinson said it’s now a matter of adjusting the plans for the new Rotary Manor slightly so that the footprint is increased at one end to accommodate a larger kitchen.
If the $1.13 million plan is approved, the food service operation of four facilities — Dawson Creek and District Hospital, Rotary Manor, Pouce Coupe Care Home, and Peace River Haven — would be consolidated at the new Rotary Manor.
Not all of the $1.13 million would be spent at the new Rotary Manor, but the bill for the project, already at slightly less than $9 million would have another $633,490 added to the total.
The rest of the money would be spent renovating the kitchens at the hospital ($388,465), Peace River Haven ($83,317), and Pouce Coupe Care Home ($15,000) while another $10,000 would go to start-up costs.
“Not only are there significant cost savings, but there is also improvement in the quality and safety of food services,” said Robinson.
A cook-chill process would be implemented, so that foods are partially cooked then rapidly chilled at the main kitchen at the new Rotary Manor and held in refrigerated inventory until needed.
Meals would then be gently heated to the proper serving temperature and then delivered at the peak of flavour, texture and nutritional value.
The new system would also increase menu flexibility so that patients are not limited to just one entree per meal. And food safety would be improved, because meals would be kept cold and away from the so-called danger zone of 4-140 degrees Celsius for a maximum time.
Consolidation would reduce the number of food services workers by the full-time equivalent of 7.34, for a savings of $291,739 annually. But Robinson stressed that the savings will be used to increase staffing in direct resident and patient care positions.
Doris Gripich, the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) representative for the South Peace, said that those who lose their jobs in food services will have a chance for retraining in another area of health services. As well, she said some employees will see the event as an opportunity for retirement so that the net effect will be minimal.
“Nobody really loses their job,” she said. “They just kind of shift.”
She added that quality food is important to HEU workers because there is the chance that some of them will also end up in such facilities. “We all know that one day we are all going to be back there, and we want to ensure the quality,” she said.