Chicago, Ill. (May 25, 2021) – At St. Anne Hospital in Burien, Wash., innovative programs are serving to nourish both the body and soul of hospital staff and caregivers. The St. Anne Hospital Foundation, understanding that a happy, healthy staff provides better care and an improved patient experience, is making sure that employees’ well-being is a top priority.
The foundation was already working to support hospital staff through employee assistance grants and holiday meals but the generosity of one donor family gave space to reimagine what could be possible. Craig Kopet and his wife, Chris, approached the foundation with a desire to give back and to support the St. Anne staff and their physical well-being. Craig, a retired physical therapist and a member of the hospital foundation’s board of directors, has a strong personal focus on healthy living and exercise. The Kopets made their financial commitment and asked the foundation to tell them what would be possible and how, together, they could care for the hospital’s staff.
Working with the hospital’s chef, the foundation team developed a unique concept built on the idea of an on-site farmer’s market. Beginning in June and continuing every Friday during the summer, hospital staff are provided with a healthy recipe as well as the fresh produce they will need to make it at home. Part of the larger St. Anne Cares program, the produce is available free of charge to the 500 employees working on multiple shifts each Friday.
Serving a diverse staff speaking over 100 languages, the Friday meal program slowly took on a multicultural element as employees from Mexico and Ethiopia, among others, expressed an interest in sharing recipes from their own cultures. Soon St. Anne’s workers were being exposed to produce they might not otherwise buy and foods they wouldn’t normally try. The program quickly became quite popular. After a one-year pause due to COVID, the hospital’s staff is excited by the program’s return in June of 2021.
Also paused due to the pandemic was the hospital cafeteria’s salad bar, a staff favorite due to its plentiful, fresh ingredients. As salad bars across the country closed, St. Anne’s cafeteria expermined with prepackaged salads but quickly found that they didn’t sell well because what people valued was the opportunity to customize their meal. Eventually, the dietary team approached the foundation to fund an innovative solution they had previously heard about but dismissed … a salad robot.
The salad robot from Chowbotics, can hold up to 22 unique, fresh ingredients from which the customer can build their own salad. Dietary staff can also pre-program “featured” or specialty salads complete with photographs that appear on the robot’s built in display to give customers a preview. The system tracks the quantity and freshness of every ingredient and communicates with staff to ensure an excellent experience every time. An added benefit is that staff can create and order their salads via an app from their units and then go to the cafeteria during their break and scan their code on the robot to receive their order. Salads are created and delivered with limited human contact.
When the salad robot debuted to much fanfare earlier this year, one of its first offerings was a salad named “Lunchie,” a nod to Craig Kopet’s college nickname.
“Both the initial Farmers Market and the salad robot were made possible through the generosity of Craig and Chris Kopet,” says Danielle Amstrup, St. Anne Foundation’s Executive Director “but as word got out about what we were doing, and especially once COVID hit, people wanted to find ways to support our staff and health care workers. Our foundation was able to fundraise for the St. Anne Cares program and bring in corporate donors and individuals who wanted to be a part of this.”
With donor support, the St. Anne Cares program has grown to include several staff well-being and enrichment programs. The foundation has funded by-appointment chair massage weeks, a wellness fair that included chiropractic services, stress relief and stress management workshops and a sound bath, stress relief kits and even a permanent relaxation room at the hospital complete with massage chairs and yoga mats.. All programs are specifically designed to foster resiliency and assure St. Anne’s employees that the hospital and the foundation values caring for them so that they can be at their best to care for others.