The abrupt closure of the hospital cafeteria has caught visitors and some staff off guard.
“We recognize this change has created some concerns,” says Laresa Altenhoff, Interior Health’s support services manager for Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH).
“It was not a decision we made lightly.”
Citing a shortage of trained employees, last month Interior Health opted to end meal service in the KBRH cafeteria for three months, effective July until September 30.
“The decision was based on staffing challenges,” Altenhoff explained. “We have regular cafeteria staff away on leave and we are currently experiencing broader challenges with support services staffing, which is compounded by planned summer vacations.”
She pointed out the cafeteria is always limited to a weekday lunch service from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., and that the room is still open for those who want to use the space.
“Our priority is to focus staffing on direct patient needs,” Altenhoff clarified. “(Such as) food services for our patients and residential care clients and housekeeping services for the clinical areas of the hospital.”
(KBRH support service staff is generally cross-trained in both food services and housekeeping)
In the absence of the KBRH cafeteria service, Altenhoff says the importance of having food options for visitors, patients and staff was considered.
“We now have two refrigerated vending machines we are stocking two to three times a day with fresh sandwiches, salads and an array of snacks,” she said. “One is located on the main floor around the corner to the left of the auxiliary gift shop and the other is in the cafeteria.”
Additionally, the auxiliary gift shop offers a range of frozen meal options, which are the same meals used for community clients in the Dinners at Home program.
A microwave and toaster are available in the cafeteria, and a coffee kiosk is open seven days a week in the hospital lobby.
“We are in the process of hiring additional staff to support food services and housekeeping at KBRH,” added Altenhoff.