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Highlighting Your Health: Support team heroes play important role in caring for the caregivers

April 22, 2020 posted by Vidant Health News

As seen in The Daily Reflector

It is no secret that health care heroes like nurses and doctors play an important role in supporting a community during a pandemic. At Vidant Health, support team heroes have been hard at work behind the scenes to help care for the caregivers.

“From the environmental services team keeping Vidant facilities clean and operational, to the interpreters providing an essential service to patients and loved ones – and everything in between – these support team heroes have helped make it possible to provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Vidant CEO Dr. Michael Waldrum. “I am personally thankful for their work and I know our community is as well.”

Caring for caregivers during a time of pandemic has meant fundamentally altering the way things are done within the walls of the hospitals. At Vidant Medical Center’s cafeteria, Food and Nutrition team members have adapted the way they serve meals to keep patients, visitors and team members safe and provide much-needed convenience.

“The number one reason that we are here is to serve safe food in a safe environment,” said Michael Coker, retail manager at VMC and Sodexo, which supports the system’s food and nutrition offerings. “Our goal is to be a support system to our nurses and doctors and to provide them with a good, safe meal. We’re nourishing them so they can nourish others.”

The goal to provide a nutritious meal is not limited to the hospital setting. Coker and his team have designed a minimart in the cafeteria, serving essential food items like milk, cheese, deli meats, bread and fresh produce so that team members can grab groceries quickly after a shift and avoid visiting the grocery store.

This helps save time, energy and reduces the need for our important health care providers to be in busy places like grocery stores.

“We felt that if we set up this Minimart as a one-stop shop, they could come in, get their essentials and go straight home,” Coker said. “I had a team member stop me this morning thanking me for having these items here. Finding ways to help our team members get home more quickly is priceless.”

The Food and Nutrition teams have developed other initiatives with the same goal in mind. The Easter dinner box program featured all the items needed for a full Easter meal, including a spiral ham and healthy fresh produce, at a discounted price. These efforts, Coker said, are a small way of helping alleviate the stress of worrying about a holiday meal in the midst of a pandemic. 

Family time is always valuable, but especially during a pandemic when health care workers are facing uncertainties and risking their own well-being to care for our community. While initiatives like the minimart and Easter dinner box provide some convenience, it will take continued innovation and community support to ensure our health care workers are properly cared for.

For Coker and his team, who are essential to Vidant’s operation and are on the front-lines as well, making life a little bit easier for their clinical team members has been a rewarding experience.

“Our food and nutrition team has really stepped up to the plate,” Coker said. “I feel it’s a big responsibility and our team is very proud to serve our nurses and doctors.”


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