Health Services,

LRH kitchen crew awarded for collaborative project

Latrobe Regional Health has received an accolade in collaboration with Monash Health for a project that made sure patients didn’t miss their tucker amid a major kitchen makeover.

LRH and Monash Health took home the 2023 Victorian/Tasmanian Institute of Hospitality in HealthCare Excellence Awards for the Project of the Year.

The award recognised the team effort in a major project to relocate meals operations to the LRH staff café when the kitchen was being refurbished to make space for the expanded hospital.

The Monash Health kitchen team stepped-in to prepare and deliver snap-frozen meals three times a week, to be stored at LRH in massive freezers and slowly re-heated in large thermal units.

LRH food distribution manager Deb Olivier said the seven-week project involved pushing out 600 meals a day to ensure patients received continual service while the kitchen was being overhauled.

Deb said it meant all staff worked together and set up a production line in the shared space with the café.

“A project at this scale had never been done before. This model could be rolled-out at other hospitals as we now know it works,” she said.

“It took a lot of planning and collaboration, staff really pulled together and went above and beyond, they were a credit.”

Deb said they worked with Monash dietitians to cater for all requirements and even went for an on- site tasting tour. It included roasts, casseroles, stir-fries, purees and vegan or gluten-free.

“We tried the meals and they were beautiful. Once presented on the plate, you’d never know they were frozen, that was how good it looked. We heated them slowly so they would not dry out,” she said.

LRH food services manager Steve Henry said the team worked out of their comfort zone but made sure everything got done.

He said they also had to make sure they ordered enough meals to pull out of the freezer.

“We worked collaboratively to provide meals in a way that had never been done before without interruption to patients,” he said.

“If you were a patient in a room, you’d never know what was happening. This recognition was the best thing.”