Unique Celebration Paid Tribute to Associates Working There 50 Years or More
A major milestone in Morrison Healthcare’s history called for a special celebration.
Earlier this year, Morrison celebrated the 65th anniversary of providing food service for its oldest account, Candler Hospital in Savannah, Georgia. Built in 1804, it was Georgia’s first hospital and is the second oldest continuously operating hospital in the U.S.
The celebration spanned two days in early May, starting with the exchange of a historic document between the two organizations. Not long before the event, Food and Nutrition Services Director Taylor Miller opened a desk drawer in his office and found the original contract between Morrison and Candler Hospital, signed in 1954. So, at a dinner attended by the leadership teams from both organizations, Morrison Healthcare CEO Tim Pierce presented the framed, one-page contract to Candler CEO Paul Hinchey.
The celebration’s 65-year theme continued the next day with a variety of events in the hospital’s café. All entrees were priced at 65 cents and Morrison’s chefs and café staff got into the act by dressing in 1950s attire. Some, for example, wore soda jerk caps and uniforms and served old school ice cream sundaes in classic milkshake glasses.
At the same time, Morrison highlighted its expertise on healthy food and nutrition. Yale New Haven Chef Todd Concilio traveled to Savannah to head up two Teaching Kitchens for hospital employees in the café. His demonstration included a nod to the company’s commitment to stopping food waste by preparing a shaker salad using ingredients and leftover vegetables from other meals.
Finally, to show its appreciation to all hospital associates, Morrison provided 500 new plastic cutting boards as gifts.
All About the Associates
The milestone event was also an opportunity to celebrate the service and commitment of the long-term Morrison associates at the hospital.
After serving 13 months for the U.S. Army, John Hines began working at the hospital in 1969. The 50-year Morrison veteran has worked in the storeroom ever since, dispensing orders and keeping food safe.
“I planned to work for a short period and then move on,” Hines says. “But the people were so kind and the work environment was so focused on helping patients, I decided I wouldn’t find a better job anywhere else.”
Of Morrison’s 66 associates at Candler, Hines and Carrie Johnson, a café associate, have worked at the hospital for 50 years or more. In addition, 13 associates have worked there for more than 25 years, including five with more than 40 years of experience and five more with more than 30 years.
Miller says the hospital administrators value the knowledge brought by Morrison’s long-time associates. “We recently started discussing possible changes to our coffee shop with Kyle McCann, the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, and he was hesitant to make any changes that would affect the Morrison associates,” says Miller. “He wanted assurances that nothing would affect any of our people.”
Susan Courtland, Morrison’s human resources manager, attributes the unique relationship between the Morrison and hospital teams to the mission of the hospital, which values everyone in the organization.
“We are treated as a part of the hospital’s team, not as a separate entity,” says Courtland, who has worked all 17 years of her Morrison career at Candler. “When they celebrate Hospital Week, we are included in the celebration. And, of course, we are included in all preparations to handle hurricanes or other natural disasters. They see us as part of the employee base.”
Courtland says that as part of Hospital Week, Morrison invites the hospital’s associates to eat free in the café. In turn, the hospital gives Morrison associates towels, cups and other gifts.
Miller and Courtland have received medical treatment at the facility and speak in glowing terms about their stays. Miller needed medical care in the emergency room, while Courtland had surgery five years ago. When she arrived at her room, there were already balloons at her bedside.
Taking Care of the Client
The partnership works both ways, with Morrison’s executives investing their time and energy to make certain the Candler medical staff is treated well. For example, approximately one year ago, Miller organized a focus group of hospital nurses to meet monthly to determine how Morrison could better meet their needs.
“We try to understand any concerns about patient care and seriously consider any recommendations they have to improve our service,” Miller says. “I turn the meeting over to them to hear how things are going, what’s going well, how to make things better.”
By engaging the medical staff, he also improved service for patients and made nurses’ jobs easier. For example, the nurses suggested changing the timing of some food cart deliveries to patients to better meet their schedules. Miller agreed and delivered food to each patient within a five-minute window on each floor.
In turn, Miller gets nurses to sample “Power Plates,” meals from a patient menu, and write reviews to gain important feedback. As a result, Miller and his team have built a solid working relationship and gained the trust of the nursing staff.
“They call me directly to take care of any issues, knowing they will get a timely response. It’s just one more way we can serve them so patients can get the best care possible. And it’s a great example of how this unique partnership has stood the test of time.”