New Era In Kitchen Technology And Food Service Begins At The Johns Hopkins Hospital
When The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore opens a new, 1.6 million square-foot patient care building with two 12-story towers in April 2012, an ultra-modern, 30,000 square-foot kitchen expansion will serve the food and nutrition needs of patients, visitors and employees. The addition will double the hospital’s kitchen and be a state-of-the-art facility where the staff will prepare almost 12,000 meals daily for inpatients and customers in the cafeteria and other food venues.
“We designed our new kitchen for maximum efficiency and to best meet the nutritional needs of our patients,” says Leo Dorsey, director of the Department of Food and Clinical Nutrition. “We are installing the most technically advanced food processing equipment, including machines that can peel and chop vegetables and fruit in record time, such as peeling a melon in six seconds, instead of doing it by hand,” he adds.
New food preparation methods are also in the mix. For example, a cook/chill machine will cook and bag soups, sauces and other items, and also remove oxygen from the packages so that the food can be stored for up to two weeks.
A water jet chiller, which looks like a big Jacuzzi, can hold up to 48 turkey breasts at once. Water is pumped in and the turkey breasts are slowly cooked overnight. The machine then chills the breasts so that they are ready to be sliced in the morning. And instead of wrapping silverware for patient trays by hand, new equipment will place cellophane around the utensils and also package grab-and-go items.
New computer software will be part of the recipe to fulfill individual patients’ dietary needs and avoid allergies. “We have always focused on customizing meals for our patients based on their medical and nutritional needs and preferences. The new software will help us accomplish that mission more efficiently,” says Julie Branham, MS, RD, LDN, project manager for the Department of Food and Clinical Nutrition. “We now accommodate 125 different types of diets and have seen a growing number of patients with food allergies—even allergies that we haven’t seen before that we have to track carefully,” she adds.
Johns Hopkins will also offer “At Your Request” dining for oncology, medical, pediatric and obstetrics patients and their visitors. Those are meals that can be ordered from special menus 12 hours a day to be delivered within one hour. For all other meals, nutrition assistants visiting with each patient will send meal choices wirelessly to the kitchen using a tablet computer.
Another new feature is a tow line—an in-ground rail system to carry enclosed carts on a track between the kitchen and hospital buildings. Staff will use radio-frequency technology to send and track the carts to ensure they get to the proper destination. With handheld scanners, they will track patient trays in three stages—tray ready, left kitchen and tray delivered.
Although the kitchen and all of the new food preparation technology will be hidden from patient view, other features of the new building will be very apparent. From healing gardens and soaring lobbies to a hand-picked art collection and cheerful, light-filled patient rooms, the new hospital building is designed to provide a welcoming and caring environment to advance the healing process. Each of the 560 new private patient rooms will have a private bath and a sleep sofa for family members. Sound-absorbing features in patient care corridors, ranging from acoustical ceiling tiles to a quiet nurse call system, will promote a tranquil environment. Workstations between every two patient rooms will enable nurses to stay close to the bedside.
One of the building’s towers will house the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center, in honor of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s mother who died at age 102 earlier this year. The other tower will be named the Sheikh Zayed Tower for cardiovascular and critical care, honoring the late father of the president of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The facility, erected on five acres, is believed to be the nation’s largest hospital construction project. It will also have 33 state-of-the-art, spacious operating rooms, expansive adult and pediatric emergency departments, seven pharmacies, and the newest diagnostic imaging facilities including an intraoperative MRI scanner and other sophisticated technologies.
Public areas on the lower floors of the building will have a restaurant and food court, a resource library for patients and visitors, a gift shop, a two-story indoor play area for pediatric patients and a concierge desk.
The hospital’s new landscaped main entrance, at 1800 Orleans Street, will be larger than a football field, providing space for up to 200 cars to drop off and pick up patients. The entryway will be covered by a large canopy to shield people from the weather. All entrances to the hospital, including the new Adult and Pediatric Emergency Departments, are located in this area for convenient patient access. The Orleans Street Garage across the street from the new hospital will be exclusively for patients and visitors. Two glass walkway bridges above Orleans Street connect the garage to the new building. A separate ambulance entrance away from the main entrance will provide privacy for patients arriving in those vehicles.
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