HCA Healthcare food service team shifts to serving smiles, screening patients during COVID-19

Woman wearing face mask taking another woman's temperature
Woman wearing face mask taking temperatures at hospital entrance

Throughout COVID-19, HCA Healthcare’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) teams have adapted to meet shifting needs within our hospitals and facilities. As the cafeterias at HCA Healthcare’s corporate campus in Nashville, Tenn. saw less traffic due to a largely work-from-home structure, a group of Sodexo colleagues transitioned their talents to protect front line caregivers and patients during the pandemic…as COVID-19 screeners.

This instance is not the first time that FNS crews have practiced evolution and innovation. For patients, FNS colleagues have brought unparalleled comfort and nourishment during a time of isolation. To provide easy access to shopping for hospital clinicians, long-time food service partner Sodexo stood up colleague mini-markets in several HCA Healthcare hospitals – providing fresh produce, paper products and more.

On left, chef with pediatric patient, and on right, shelves with fruits and vegetables.
(Left) Savannah, Ga.-based Memorial Health executive chef, Karl Mase with pediatric patient, Leilani; (Right) colleague mini-market at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center in Round Rock, Texas

A new role created by the pandemic: COVID-19 screener

The pandemic has changed almost every facet of life in the United States. How we shop. How we travel. How we work. When Nashville’s mayor issued a safer-at-home order in March, many HCA Healthcare corporate colleagues shifted to remote work and the cafeterias saw a drastic decrease in the need for food services.

At the same time, HCA Healthcare enacted several processes to get ready for COVID-19 surges, with a focus on protecting our patients and clinicians. This included adding hundreds of screeners in our facilities to manage new screening and visitor control processes.

When screeners were needed at nearby affiliate TriStar Centennial Medical Center, HCA Healthcare gave corporate Sodexo food service colleagues the opportunity to transition into a role as a screener at the hospital. This position serves as one of the first faces you see, welcoming people to the hospital and, perhaps most importantly, keeping colleagues and patients safe by asking various questions and taking temperatures prior to entry in order to screen for COVID-19.

“Through this pandemic, HCA Healthcare has been very gracious to us and allowed us to continue to serve the HCA Healthcare community in a variety of ways at the corporate campus,” said Denise R. Ammaccapane, Sodexo general manager at HCA Healthcare’s corporate campus.

“When TriStar Centennial had a shortage of screeners, we were asked to see if we could help support. This was a perfect way for the five employees to stay employed and yet give back to HCA Healthcare till they fully reopen,” Wanda continued. “I speak for the entire Sodexo team, when I say we definitely feel part of the HCA Healthcare family.”

Meet HCA Healthcare’s COVID-19 screeners

Screening patients before they enter our hospitals reduces exposures for other patients and healthcare personnel and helps prevent the spread of disease. In August, five Sodexo employees began training at TriStar Centennial Medical Center to fill positions at the 10 screening stations around the hospital.

Woman wearing face mask and scrubs behind table with health screening materials.
Pam Johnson, TriStar Centennial Medical Center screener

Pam Johnson, a Sodexo cashier, has been working at HCA Healthcare’s corporate campus for 23 years. When the pandemic first hit, she was in shock but not worried about work because of her faith. Shortly after, she was given the opportunity to become a screener and immediately said “yes”.

“I have felt so supported. They gave me an opportunity to still work, and I am so thankful and grateful for that,” says Pam. “It’s a great honor and I feel like I was brought here for a reason.”

Pam takes great pride in protecting colleagues and patients as a screener. As a people person, she likes being a friendly face at the door to welcome patients and visitors during a very uncertain time for many.

“I usually work at the main entrance, and it is so busy. There are some people who are so lonely they just need someone to talk to. I had one lady who came two days just to talk to me,” Pam continued. “That’s is all I have – love and time!”

Woman wearing face mask and scrubs behind table with health screening materials.
Wanda Avington, TriStar Centennial Medical Center screener

Wanda Avington is a Sodexo cashier and has now transitioned to work five days a week as a hospital screener. She was relieved to know that HCA Healthcare leadership was dedicated to keeping her Sodexo team whole.

“HCA Healthcare’s chief executive officer, Sam Hazen, met with us at the corporate campus,” said Wanda. “I felt like he really cared about us, and we were part of the family. He found something for us to do so that we didn’t go without pay.”

Wanda knows that being a friendly face at the door to welcome people is just as important as screening safety processes and measures. “I love talking to people and putting a smile on their face by getting to know them and talking to them.”

Recently, after a weekend off, Wanda found herself screening a visitor she had met the Friday prior. “When I came back, she told me ‘I really missed you over the weekend’,” remembered Wanda. “She was going to make a decision to take her husband off life support. We prayed, and we cried and hugged.”

Woman wearing face mask sitting at table with health screening materials.
Tabitha Rolen, TriStar Centennial Medical Center screener

Tabitha Rolen, who has been a cashier with Sodexo for a year, was worried about her job when the pandemic hit. She now realizes that COVID-19 has brought her an opportunity to help people in a new way.

Her favorite part of being a hospital screener is getting to welcome and talk to people. She enjoys providing help and getting to be a small part of a patient’s journey.

“Usually I am at TriStar Centennial Women’s Hospital and The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial,” said Tabitha. “When you see women come in pregnant, and then they leave three days later with a baby, it’s the best feeling.”

She does not take her new job lightly, as she knows protecting patients and colleagues is critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19. “I pray every morning in my car before I come in for strength to help me protect people and for the people I am going to meet.”

She continued, “This is the best company I’ve ever worked for. I’m so thankful.”

Thank you to our Sodexo partners, who are an integral part of the HCA Healthcare family, for adapting and using their talents to serve our patients and live out our mission to care for and improve human life.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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