St. Clair Hospital Transitions to POD System



Patient satisfaction surveys have always ranked St. Clair’s team members, under the management of Cura, with excellent customer service.  But a new way of serving food enhances the patient experience at St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA, where the team successfully transitioned from a traditional tray line to a POD system.

Pods are self-contained multiple serving units that deconstruct the traditional tray line into several smaller units.  A dedicated team member works at each pod assembling trays for specific hospital units or floors.  “The pods give our concierges ownership and responsibility for their trays, improving delivery of food to patients and enhancing the overall patient experience!  The staff has embraced and loves the new system,” says Emily Guidash, MS, RDN, LDN, general manager of dining.

According to Ms. Guidash, tray lines are labor intensive and don’t provide flexibility.   “There are five people that always need to man this system – a starter, a hot food server, a salad person, a beverage position and a supervisor.  If you have someone who calls off, you must fill the position.  Typically, a concierge is pulled off the floor to assist with the tray line – it wasn’t a good system,” says Ms. Guidash.

St. Clair has constructed four pods where one server will plate for two concierges.  Each pod is composed of one serving station with one refrigerator unit.  The concierges build the tray by placing cold food, utensils, condiments, and beverages​ on the tray.   At the same time, the server plates the hot food and gives the plate to the concierge.  Once the concierge has their cart full, the concierge leaves the kitchen and delivers the trays to the hospital floor he or she is responsible for.  “This was a huge change for our concierges as they are not accustomed to building trays.  But after one week, they are ​adjusting well!” she says.

The room service component remains the same, where concierges take patient orders bedside with an I-Pad.  This user-friendly order system puts everything at the fingertips of the concierge including menus and specialized diet selections.

A POD system nicely aligns with Cura’s Completely Satisfied Program,  a patient experience model that focuses on each patient’s specific health and dietary needs, as well as their unique preferences. “Our goal is to keep the patient properly nourished, move our services faster and help maintain safe food temperatures which all helps speed up the healing process. Concierges are also able to establish consistency and build stronger relationships with the nursing staff,” says Ms Guidash.

Congratulations to our full-time concierges:  Tom Jarvis;  Christal Galardi; Sarah O’Neill; Rose Murray; David Adams; Livia Forte; Katrina Hareza and Samantha Maffei.   A big shout out to Victoria Kelly,  our administrative assistant, and David Puchi, supervisor, who has been critical in helping to adjust the job flows.