Hospital stays can be riddled with anxiety. Mealtime, however, can be a bright spot in a patient’s day. Marlene Pearson knows this better than most; as a Morrison Healthcare ambassador for the Department of Food & Nutrition, at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT, Marlene has been focused on helping people for 25 years.
Each day, she spends only a few minutes with patients but she tries to make every moment count. Many of these patients are older people with diabetes, sickle cell anemia or other serious infections and diseases. Each healthy, nutritious meal she delivers is an important part of their day.
“I like caring for people and helping patients,” Pearson says. “I look at them and think, one day when I’m sick I want someone to take time with me. So I treat them the way I want to be treated.”
Pearson’s caring attitude and hard work earned her a “Shining Star” award this summer, which recognizes an employee “caught in the act of doing something good.” In the recommendations for the award, Pearson was cited for her teamwork and “tender loving care” for the patients on two floors of the hospital’s East Pavilion.
Her day starts at 6:30 a.m. by clearing dirty food trays. About an hour later, Marlene delivers meals to approximately 50 patients, greeting each with a smile and words of hope. But she also takes time to help people with the seemingly simple requests that can make their meal more enjoyable.
“People may have a limited use of their hands, so they may need Marlene to cut their pancakes or open their milk,” said Kathleen Kenter, patient food service manager who has been Pearson’s supervisor for the past 15 years. “Even more important, if she sees a person is uncomfortable or may be falling from their bed, she will alert the nursing staff. She understands that these acts of kindness help people enjoy their meal, but it shows that we care about them during a time of need. She takes her time with each patient to care for them.”
Pearson’s caring attitude stems from an upbringing in Beaufort, South Carolina, where she was taught to treat everyone politely and with respect. “I was raised to be nice to people and treat them well,” she says. “Those traits have served me well in this job and in life.”
Yale New Haven is a large hospital, with 12,700 employees, including more than 4,200 medical staff. Marlene matches her ability to comfort each patient she serves with a commitment to excellence. Her attitude and hard work impact patients but also assist the medical personnel on the floors where she delivers meals. Marlene and her teammates on the Patient Care Team understand their service impacts the hospital’s patient satisfaction scores, something Compass One Healthcare is also helping address through the Positive Impressions program.
“Marlene has taken ownership of [her] floors,” said Paul Corvino, patient services manager. “She’s developed a good rapport with the nurses and nurses assistants, so when she needs to get their attention to help a patient, they listen. Her ability to help [people] whenever she is needed has contributed to our high Press-Ganey scores.”
Pearson is pleased that her contributions helped contribute to the excellent Press-Ganey results, but her main focus is on making each patient feel special.
“It’s important to please each patient, to listen to them and sympathize with their needs,” Pearson says. “Not everyone here gets visitors, so when I visit each patient; I talk to them, knowing each visit could be important to them. It’s just part of caring and I try to do my part.”
If you’re looking for meaningful work helping people in need or said you want to help people through your work, check out available opportunities to join the Compass One and Morrison Healthcare family. We believe in the Power of Food to change lives and are proud of the opportunities we have each day to help people and serve alongside world-class clients.