University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences

The University of Chicago Medicine will now prepare more than 1,000 patient meals daily in the newly renovated, first-of-its-kind inpatient kitchen located in the Center for Care and Discovery (CCD).

In 2015, the Medical Center decided to remodel the inpatient kitchen when it was determined that acute care patients would be shifted from the Mitchell Hospital to the recently opened third and fourth floors of the CCD. More than 200 patients were moved to those floors in September.

Close to double in size, from 5,500 square-feet to 12,200 square-feet, the state-of-the-art kitchen was expanded south into the CCD dock area to accommodate additional equipment to meet food service demands and other patient-centric features.

One of these features includes a dual-tray line that will allow kitchen staff to efficiently prepare patient meals. One side will prepare meals for CCD 8, 9, and 10. The other will prepare meals for Comer and CCD 3 and 4. Once those meals are completed, they will be transported to a patient’s room within approximately 45 minutes from receipt of a patient’s food order.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony held in October, Jason Keeler, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, stated, “Timely and great-tasting food is a very important part of a patient’s experience, and we certainly do not want to disappoint.”

The kitchen also contains a separate certified gluten-free kitchen for patients who require a gluten-free diet, the first of its kind for an academic medical institution.  Before, these meals were prepared in Billings and transported to the CCD, increasing the patient’s wait time.

There were many internal and external teams that worked on the 9.3 million dollar kitchen. Mary Pat Severns, Executive Director of Dining Services, said her team played a pivotal role in the project. “The insight that our staff shared was utilized in the architect’s design and helped to develop LEAN-management processes to ensure the kitchen’s efficiency.”

Office space for Dining service managers and supervisors was also created to keep as many staff in one centralized location as possible. Additionally, the room service call-center is now located within the kitchen. 

A part of the Medical Center’s overall plan to serve for more patients, the kitchen opened three weeks ahead of schedule.

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