Cura Safely Reopens


Cura’s senior living and hospital cafes are slowing reopening “safely”…and customers and residents are thrilled to be back!

Kristen Azzarello, Cura district manager and executive safety sponsor, together with Cura Managing Director Lisa Schairer, and Trish Spellman vice president of operations, assembled an inter-disciplinary group of district managers within Cura’s organization to create a COVID-19 Task Force. The Task Force continues to examine and truly scrutinize our own operational core competencies while ensuring we look to the expert regulatory agencies for input and perspective.

Leveraging both regulatory agency recommendations and our Task Force’s outcomes, Cura created its own COVID-19 Certified Re-Opening Playbook.

“I’m proud of our team – Cura is one of the first contract dining companies among its competitors to have developed a step-by-step COVID-19 playbook for reopenings.  In fact, we were the first Elior brand to create these playbooks which were used as a benchmark for other brands to follow,” says Ms. Azzarello.

The playbook for reopening details how to clean and sanitize in our new “normal.”  Everything from implementing enhanced hygiene to safeguarding employees, staff, residents and patients are covered.  Just as important, the playbook is broken down into phases for each area of operation, including:

  • Dining Room
  • Delivery Program
  • Grab and Go
  • Self-Serve/Retail
  • Catering

Many thanks to our district managers who worked with Kristen, Lisa and Trish to develop the playbook so that our operators may deliver a rewarding culinary experience while ensuring the health, safety and well-being of staff, customers and residents.  They are: Jim Crossin, Vanessa Horan, Kevin Dean, Amy Johnson and Keith Steinour.  A special thank you to Shannon Malozzi for using her marketing “magic” to package a playbook operators and clients alike are proud to use as a guide to reopen successfully!  Here are their stories:


DINING ROOMS: The reopening of the Newhaven Court was a huge success for residents who are now enjoying meals vs. delivery to their apartments at the Lutheran Seniorlife at the Passavant Community in Zelienople, PA.   There were lots of bright smiles, steaming coffee in china cups and pancakes hot off the griddle!  The dining team provides two assigned time slots for meal periods to allow for 6 ft. distancing.  Residents can also find hand sanitizing stations and a designated mask storage area at each place setting, a new normal.  Each resident receives a card with a magnet to attach to their fridge with their seating time and table number. According to Barbara Fergusen, general manager, “We used seating charts, name cards at their place setting and a designated greeter at the door to help ease residents into the new seating arrangements. We also gave out a special cookie treat with a card letting them know how much we missed having them enjoy meals in our dining room!”


DELIVERY PROGRAMS:  Hospital visitors and the local community enjoy new curbside dining services by Cura at Marion General Hospital in Columbia, Mississippi and Wise Health Surgical Hospital at Parkway in Fort Worth, Texas!

At Marion General, this new “car hop”-style service through which staff delivers meals straight to guests’ cars in the parking lot, is open to hospital visitors as well as the general public.  Guests simply place their orders over the phone, at which time they can provide a credit card number or have an order total given to them. When they arrive in the designated parking area, they place a second call to let staff know they have arrived, and a team member will bring their order to the car. Guests can also choose to pay in cash as long as they have exact change.

At Wish Health Surgical, the culinary team offers a variety of items for breakfast and lunch, free of charge, for those waiting for a loved one to have a medical procedure.  Morning meal options include cold cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, muffins, fresh fruit, juice and coffee. Lunch includes sandwich offerings such as ham and cheddar or turkey and Swiss on a ciabatta bun, chips, protein bars, a dessert of the day along with beverages.  Snacks for kids are also available. Due to demand, the team also plans to add dinner and some hot meals.  Orders, which take “no more than 5 minutes” to fulfill, are facilitated through the hospital’s front desk. The concierge takes phone orders and relays them to the kitchen, where staff have boxes lined up and ready to pack. The concierge then delivers the assembled meals to visitors’ vehicles.  This Cura story was front page news in FoodService Director Magazine!


GRAB AND GO: At Tel Hai Retirement Community in Honey Brook, PA, the Daily Brew opens safely offering independent residents and staff a “robust” grab-and-go menu.  Guests can select from salads, sandwiches, desserts, snack packs, fruit, candy – as well as a huge assortment of beverages. The display case is covered – no touching.  Two team members serve guests what they want.  The Daily Brew was a grocery store during COVID-19. We’re happy to see them back in business! At Allegheny Health Network’s Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Hills, PA, the new “normal” salad bar features daily prepackaged “upscale” salads including classic chef, classic garden, grilled or breaded chicken Caesar, spinach bacon and chicken strawberry spinach with blue cheese. Great job team on safe dining offerings!


RETAIL:  The retail coffee bar at Texas Health Frisco in Frisco, Texas recently celebrated its grand reopening.  While visiting the café, visitors can explore all the fabulous Ascension coffee beverage options, pastries and breakfast sandwiches available daily Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, pastries and beverages are offered again from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. They are even open on weekends from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. All methods of payment are accepted including payroll deduction. Thank you Ascension and the Cura team for bringing back a safe coffee bar!


SELF SERVE: Called a “Sorta” Salad Bar…the Healthcare staff at Punxsutawney Area Hospital in Pennsylvania missed the salad bar! So, the team has preportioned, and prepackaged all the veggies, lettuce and other fixings so guests can make their own salad. This is an ingenious way to offer a healthy option in a safe way. At Holy Redeemer Health System in Meadowbrook, PA, a made-to-order salad bar located in the retail food court has also reopened for staff. Guests simply point to what they want, while our dining server gathers the ingredients, mixes in a silver bowl and pours into a take-out container.  A great way to re-purpose the salad bars!


CATERING: Safe catering has returned! Cura at Lutheran Seniorlife at the Passavant Community in Zelienople, PA hosted a group of ladies who enjoyed a trio salad plate in the community’s gardens. The team did an excellent job in providing a safe way to dine by providing hand wipes and Ziploc baggies to hold their masks while they ate. It was very nice to see residents have a good time again!