Longwood Reopens after 15 Months; Residents Excited to Dine in Person

“Pictured: Welcoming residents back are Leah Ford, Syracuse University student and Carly Glover, University of Pittsburgh student.”

After 15 long months, residents at Presbyterian SeniorCare’s Longwood at Oakmont in Verona, PA, were thrilled to finally be able to dine “in person”.

According to Mary Kay Grippa, general manager of dining, the pandemic was challenging for the staff who prepared and delivered 100 boxed lunches and 300 dinners daily to five neighborhoods spreading across the 60-acre campus.  “We were fortunate to employ many college students who were able to work because they were learning remotely.”  Of the 134 hourly staff members, 65% are college students who are majoring in nursing and healthcare from schools like Pitt, Duquesne, Penn State, and Clarion.  Ms. Grippa even employs a nursing home administration major who enjoys working with residents in the memory support neighborhood.

Reopening dining also presented its obstacles. The goal was to eliminate high-touch areas, such as the salad bar and beverage station.  The scatter system food configuration lends to further eliminate the need to touch anything.  Residents are able to visit the station of their choice and verbally make their selection to the dining server.

During the reopening celebration, residents could visit all stations that offered fresh-dough Margarita pizza, made from scratch andouille and corn chowder soups, and design your own deli.

Residents also enjoyed a summer salmon and berry salad with a lemon vinaigrette.  The most popular was the action station where Executive Chef Ryle David prepared a Mediterranean chicken and pasta, and grilled favorites to order!

The Perked Coffee bar and barista is also open energizing residents with freshly brewed coffee, espresso, cappuccino, chai, lattes, smoothies, and milkshakes.  Guests and residents can also enjoy breakfast sandwiches, bagels, English muffins, pastries, fruit, yogurt, and parfaits.

Though residents were excited to come in the dining room, they were especially happy to see and visit with our student workers who are applying what they learn in school,” she says.

Dining team members were equally excited to serve their residents in person.  “Just talking to residents face to face was awesome.  I also had the pleasure of introducing myself to new residents, who never experienced anything but a food delivery due to the pandemic.  I walked them through the dining room and our concepts.  Speaking with residents and making a connection with people – good or bad – I want to hear from them.   It’s how we learn to enhance services to residents.  This is why I got into this business,” Ms. Grippa says.