My time working at St. Francis Hospital

When I started working here, the kitchen floor was always dirty, and equipment was dirty and often unmaintained. Various areas with equipment had caked on layers of grease. The dish room was poorly run, and a workflow nightmare, and the delivery carts had mold growing in them. Most workers didn’t care about the cleanliness, whereas some workers were unhappy with the environment but unwilling to do anything to improve it.

The kitchen and dish room were understaffed, and the dish room still is habitually understaffed. There is a high turnover rate for dish washers, so finding and keeping a consistent crew is a bit of a difficulty. The dish crew were also dysfunctional, interpersonally, and as a team. However, because I understood that people do not want to carry responsibility for the entire workplace on their backs, I took it upon myself to change the environment into something people could take pride in, and to fix problems getting in the way of doing the job. The management appreciated this jump-start effort I provided to get them back on track with cleanliness and repairs. In the process of renovating this workplace experience, I scrubbed the entire kitchen, the serving area, lunchroom, the dish room, and the hallways manually to remove set-in dirt in the non-slip flooring that the machine scrubber could not remove. The scrub machine had the wrong sized vacuum attachment, so nobody was cleaning the floors, because it was a pain to get through doorways. The vacuum would fall off every time and had to be reattached. When I discovered a properly-sized vacuum attachment in a forgotten room that had been discarded due to being damaged, I figured out how to repair it.

In addition to mechanical repairs, I have diagnosed much larger problems, such as identifying the critical flaw in the dish-room’s engineering design: there is no airflow, so the industrial dish machine produces steam, pools of water, and warmth that provides a permanent home for roaches and creates moldy ceilings. The manager purchased new tools at my request, including a new power washer for cleaning the mold off the walls and ceiling of the dish room. I cleaned caked-on grease on the walls, pipes, and tested and invented new ways to use their chemicals to perform cleaning tasks. The floor in the dry storage area had dirt that was so thick you could stick a fork in it (and I did). I scraped this floor to get started on cleaning it. Eventually a coworker had an idea to use grill cleaner to clean it. The chemical worked wonders, but he was scrubbing the floor with a deck brush, which was slow. I took his idea and upgraded it by using the floor scrubber to add small amounts of floor cleaning solution that diluted the powerful chemical and distributed the chemical evenly across the floor, letting it soak into the floor for a few minutes, and then scrubbing it again with the machine scrubber. This efficiently solved the problem, without endangering the food safety of the products in storage.

I solved their fruit fly problem by identifying problematic employee behaviors involving disposal of trash in the recycling bin and the positioning of the recycling bin in a wet location. All these efforts produced an improved score on a health inspection, which allowed my manager to keep her job. In the dish room, I spent a few weeks studying their process and re-engineered it into an optimal workflow by introducing buffer zones and more suitable equipment. These elements maximized efficiency in the worst-case scenario of having one person working by himself, while also improving the efficiency when scaled up to any size team. I also developed an emergency workflow when the machine was out of service, which happened during the ice storm when the water pressure was too low, and later when the machine was damaged. In the kitchen, I reorganized where and how things are stored to reduce the frustration felt by new employees, dish washers, and cooks, by following principles of functional organization. This reorganization reduced the number of trips for common tasks.

In my time here, I acquired several titles, including “Mr. Clean”, “Mr. Fix-it”, “Superman”, “Aquaman”, and “Work Son”.

tl;dr

While working at St. Francis hospital, I provided consultation to management (the general manager) on various topics ranging from personnel to workflow and technology strategy. I performed research, planned and executed advanced projects to improve the work environment and compensate for lackluster execution on the part of other departments, including the Maintenance department; the Environmental Services department (EVS) which is a fancy name for janitorial; and the Engineering department. I rejuvenated the work environment under loose supervision of management, repaired and improved existing procedures, re-organized the physical environment for improved workflow efficiency and reliability, weeded out problem employees and practices, re-coordinated other team members for improved collaborative efficiency, and found cost-effective solutions to long-standing problems, whether it be a new piece of technology, or a new policy, or a new technique for cooking. I served as a flex/floating worker between kitchen, dish room, and store-room responsibilities. After a few months I was given the role of Safety Champion to help teach and enforce health and safety standards.

Leave a Smart Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.