Impact spent some time with Bill Robertson, director of Food and Nutrition for Morrison Healthcare, to learn more about the day-to-day operation of UTMB's Food Services. He oversees the food preparation and distribution for all patient care and retail operations on campus — Joe's in the Student Union, the MOD coffee house in Moody Medical Library, Café on the Court and Seattle's Best on the first floor of John Sealy Hospital, the cafe located in TDCJ — and last but not least, the moving taco truck, designed to accommodate the construction crews working on campus.
 
Robertson also manages seven registered clinical dietitians who provide nutritional care to all inpatient, outpatient and clinics from League City to Galveston. Robertson says his duty and desire is to make sure that each patient or guest is cared for with respect, dignity and consistency. 
 
Since Hurricane Ike the challenges of food preparation and delivery on our campus have changed from decisions about what to put on the menu to how to transport food a quarter of mile from kitchen to table top. Needless to say it has been an adjustment. 
 
Get a glimpse behind-the-scenes of food services, the planned improvements, the challenges and the people who are determined to make it a success.
 
What changes have taken place in the Food Services Department since Hurricane Ike?
 
Following Hurricane Ike, food and nutrition started feeding patients and employees from a temporary tent kitchen located in the parking garage of Waverly Smith Pavilion. As UTMB continued to rebuild our patient census, it was apparent our tent kitchen could not support our needs. Therefore, after a nine month period, our team of dedicated associates transitioned to mobile kitchens located behind Jennie Sealy Hospital. 
 
Although our current mobile facility is approximately 3,000 square feet, we currently are preparing, cooking and servicing the food services for all of the retail outlets and patients on the UTMB campus. Our next and final-temporary move will occur in June 2011, to our final-temporary location behind the Primary Care Pavilion. 
 
While faced with daily logistical challenges, we realize all of UTMB is faced with the perils of the storm. Prior to the storm, we were able to provide varied meal services to guests and patients throughout the day and night. At this time our single largest challenge is distance and the elements. In order to provide the food to our patients and staff, our associates transfer cooked food up to a quarter mile distance in order to reach our customers. I cannot express the gratitude I have for my associates who weather the heat, rain, wind and other external elements to service the patrons of UTMB. I am proud of my team.  Even in the face of such challenges, the team has consistently achieved some of the highest marks in Press Ganey survey results for our patients. Although the daily challenge is great, it is a pleasure to work with dedicated individuals who obtain such great results. The ultimate reward is satisfied patients, family members and UTMB employees.
 
What are some challenges you are facing? 
 
Several things were discussed during a meeting with the UTMB Employee Advisory Council team which centered around staff concerns regarding food services.
 
One of which is lack of service. It is my understanding that most staff do not know that our kitchen is located one quarter of a mile away from our nearest service area which is the Café on the Court. As our customers are aware, we have little-to-no cooking abilities in the Café on the Court. Due to this, all of the food must be cooked and transported this distance, which comes with challenges in regard to options and timeliness.  UTMB is planning, and is in the process of building, a new kitchen and servery in the new Clinical Sciences Building. Although we are faced with these obstacles, we have heard the feedback and are working on menu alterations in an effort to better satisfy the expectations of our customers. 
 
Another issue brought to our attention was retail pricing. Pricing has not increased since before Hurricane Ike. One of our challenges is to continue to offer low price options given the current economic situation. This will continue to be a challenge as our cost of goods has increased 2.7 percent over the last 12 months. This rise in costs is primarily related to rising fuel prices, which is anticipated to continue to increase. We are currently exploring some lower priced menu options and welcome our customers' input and suggestions.
 
What can employees look forward to in Food Services?
 
There is currently discussion to remodel the Café on the Court which would allow us to increase the quality and variety of our options. There is also discussion of Morrison Healthcare implementing a Quizno's retail store, as this was a popular destination prior to the storm.
 
As a department we are looking to restructure our entire menu and pricing to offer more choices that allow for an increased variety of value priced items.
 
What is one thing most people don't know about you? 
 
That I have been married for 19 years and our 20th anniversary is this year. I am a proud father of a 3 1/2 year old son. His adoption was finalized the week that Ike hit the shores of Galveston!
 
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go? 
 
I love the water and love islands, guess that's why I am in Galveston. I would like to travel to Australia.
 
What is your favorite book?   
 
Right now, I find my reading limited to the "Cat in the Hat" and "Curious George," my son's favorites!
 
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you? 
 
Never give up. If you can think it, you can do it.
 
What three words would people most likely use to describe you? 
 
Funny, energetic, and passionate.