How VA Figured Out Food Service During Pandemic

Goal was to provide guidance that would help foodservice teams at individual hospitals best manage their own situation

By Dan Hounsell
May 18, 2021

Healthcare organizations nationwide faced challenges in almost every realm when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in February 2020. No organization, though, had to deal with the scope of the challenge confronting the nation’s largest healthcare system, including how to efficiently and safely feed patients.

The Veteran’s Health Association is the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system, so when it came to helping the system’s foodservice program deal with COVID-19, leadership at the national office knew there couldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach, according to Food Management.

Officials met with the CDC to make sure the VA had a clear understanding of the CDC’s recommendations and protocols. The goal was to serve as a translator between the hospitals and the CDC to fill the gaps of what workers might be wondering about.

That meant providing guidance on disinfection protocols and PPE use for foodservice workers in direct contact with patients versus workers who didn’t interact with patients. The national office also served as a coordinator to help individual hospitals navigate their changing situations, like diverting staff from areas where transmission rates were low to areas that were experiencing surges.

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