Heroes feeding heroes.
That’s how Morrison Healthcare System Director of Food Services Anthony Addonisio described the scene on April 9th at the University of Miami Health System’s three hospitals. Arriving at the hospital at 5 a.m., his team prepared and assembled 2,500 meals, and stayed until 11 p.m. to deliver hot “to go” lunches and dinners for all of the hospital’s workers.
To show their appreciation to hospital workers treating patients with the COVID-19 virus, Compass One and Morrison teamed up with the Miami Marlins Home Plate Meals for Heroes, Coca-Cola and several other food vendors for this special event. And, after days of ordering food and working with suppliers, it paid off. When delivering meals to nurses and others late into the night, Addonisio says the feeling of satisfaction is unlike any he’s ever experienced.
“You could see the smiles behind their masks,” he said. “This event generated so much energy and happiness among so many people who are putting their health on the line every day. It was a special feeling to help lift everyone’s spirits and know we could let them know we care for them and their families.”
The event was also a unique opportunity for the community to pull together. The Miami Marlins’ team offices and Marlins Park are just west of downtown Miami and only a mile from the hospital’s campus. The team’s leaders, including owner Derek Jeter and manager Don Mattingly, created a special “Thank You” video for all hospital workers.
The idea originated when the Marlins’ Foundation called the hospital and offered to donate food to the workers. When the hospital’s marketing department called Regional Vice President Kevin Sweizer, Patient Services Manager Marcela Lissandrelli and Addonisio to discuss they idea, they immediately offered to take on the project.
“Anthony sprang into action and immediately offered to coordinate the project,” Sweizer says. “We realized it would be much safer for everyone for us to purchase, prepare and cook the food since we do it every day.”
After taking over the health system’s foodservice a few years ago, Morrison completely changed the infrastructure and service style to provide world-class foodservice. The upgrades ranged from major overhauls of the main cafeteria and central production kitchen. The company also implemented Dining on Call room service ordering and Catering to You bedside ordering patient dining programs. There’s also a food truck into an outdoor courtyard area and a dedicated menu for UMH’s in-house daycare center.
In addition to handling food service for the event, Sweizer worked hand-in-glove with the other organizations to make the event successful. The Marlins Foundation donated $7,500 — and baseball hats for all Morrison associates delivering the food — while Coca-Cola provided water and soft drinks for all 2,500 meals.
On April 9th, Addonisio, Executive Chef Gustavo Perez, Executive Sous Chef Santiago Lopez Ceron and their team of 14 managers and 20 cooks took over. The cooks spread out in the hospital’s main kitchen and cooked 2,500 meals consisting of chicken with mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes, a vegetable medley, roll, dessert and Coca-Cola drink. Vegetarian and vegan meals featuring roasted eggplant were also served.
Once the meals were prepared, other staff members worked six feet apart across the hospital’s three cafes to assemble the meals and load them on to delivery carts. Lunches were served from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and dinner from 9 – 11 p.m.
Making It Safe During COVID-19
The event provided a brief respite from the long hours and difficult working conditions experienced by so many healthcare workers since the onset of the novel coronavirus. Like all Morrison associates around the country, the team at Miami Health has taken extra precautions to perform their work while serving the hospital’s patients, especially those with the COVID-19 virus.
Sweizer credits Anthony with keeping his team safe by ensuring they were wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). His teams always wear face masks and gloves, counters are continuously cleaned. The leadership team has also worked hard to communicate special instructions to all associates about working conditions and COVID-19 patients.
To minimize the risk of infection, associates take all meals from the kitchen and leave them outside of the patient’s room. Sweizer says managers personally performed this task to demonstrate this process so all associates feel safe.
“There’s a lot of stress in our business right now,” Sweizer says. “People know there is an added risk in working in a hospital, so all of us are working with extreme caution to protect each associate. Anthony has done a remarkable job coaching his team to stay safe while continuing to deliver high-quality meals to all patients.”
Anthony says the April 9th celebration will be one he never forgets. “I’ll never forget seeing the nurses dancing and taking in all of the energy that was created when we delivered their meals. These people are dedicating their lives to help others and I’m proud we could show how much they mean to all of us.”