Making a difference in patients’ lives often starts with working closely with a hospital’s nursing staff. Morrison Executive Chef Marcelo Rubio and Kenneth Lim, a patient dining associate, were recently recognized for their work in helping nurses at the University of California Irvine Health in Orange County, California.
Chef Rubio received the prestigious Chief Nursing Officer Award, which recognizes those associates that collaborate with nurses to improve their work to patients. Kenneth Lim, a patient dining associate, received the Friend of Nursing Award. According to UCI Health Chief Nursing Officer Pat Patton, the recognition is due to both associates’ dedication to the nursing staff.
“Marcelo leads a team that makes our retail and patient food look and taste amazing while consistently receiving praise for outstanding VIP catering events for our executives and high-profile guests. Kenneth is an exemplary employee who goes above and beyond to assist nurses and give the best possible care to our patients.”
Chef Rubio – Understanding How to Help Nurses Succeed
Chef Rubio credits the recognition largely to a commitment to work closely with the nursing staff and build their trust in Morrison. “I know the nurses have a difficult job, so I’ve made it a top priority to be available to the nurse managers at all times. If they have to console a patient that’s upset, I work with them, speak to the patient about their diet, and come up with a solution.”
Not long after taking this step, the nurses started calling Chef Rubio to resolve various patient issues. He saw an opportunity to find ways to help them out. “I invested time in forming solid working relationships so that I was a person they could trust,” he says. While his strategy took some time, it eventually paid off.
Once the relationships were formed, the nurses and nurse managers began complimenting his food and making requests. “They would say, ‘Chef, can you bring back the taco bar next month?” and I would do it.”
He also needed to overcome an unusual obstacle to gain their respect. He transitioned from the previous food service provider to the Morrison Healthcare team in 2019 after we took over the hospital’s foodservice operations. Right from the start, the expectations were high for Rubio and his team.
“The administration and the nursing staff expected our food and service to be top-notch, as good as a free-standing catering company,” Chef Rubio says. “They had a high standard that we have worked hard to meet.”
Rubio decided on a long-term approach, meeting with doctors, nurses, and others to listen to their needs. “It took six months to get the heartbeat of the organization, but slowly, we started to meet their requests. As we continue to perform well, the staff began asking the Chef for his recommendations instead of making demands.”
“After a number of successful events, the leadership began asking what I would cook for a specific event. It got to the point where they would give me carte blanche to organize and prepare a special catered event.”
Kenneth Lim – Going Above and Beyond to Make a Difference
Kenneth Lim’s intense focus on each patient is a key reason for his recognition and award. “Nurses and patient dining associates have one common objective,” he says. “To serve the patient and keep them comfortable while in the hospital.”
He helps the nurses by attending to each patient’s needs, particularly those who are senior citizens or disabled. “I like to comfort the patients by cheering them up and wishing them well,” he says. “I have a passion to serve and my attitude to work to my very best.”
Kenneth says that during the pandemic, his attention to the nurses’ needs has been even more acute. “I can feel and understand how tense and hard for the nurses to do their duty under this situation. I can also identify closely with their situation because one of my own children is also a medical worker in charge of COVID-19 screening.”
Kenneth has made significant contributions to the Patient Services team and the Culinary Department,” says Bill Lawhead, Senior Director of Culinary and Nutrition. “From spending just a few moments with him you can sense that caring for others is in his DNA, and I’m sure that our patients can feel this as well.”
Kenneth is grateful to be recognized for his work and he intends to grow his working relationships with the nurses even more. “Forming friendships with the nurses is vital for me to give the very high-quality service satisfaction for the patients and the nurses.”
“The nurses are the backbone of the hospital’s operation, so I will try to make them comfortable by assisting them with the patient’s needs, relaying messages of the patients to the nurses and doing simple errands for the patients while nurses are not in the patient’s room.”