Stromboli and toilet paper: Hospital markets serve busy caregivers

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From Stromboli to toilet paper, hospital markets serve busy caregivers at WellSpan facilities in Central Pennsylvania.

For caregivers working around the clock to support the needs of very ill COVID-19 patients and other patients within the walls of WellSpan Hospitals, a trip to the grocery store to pick up milk and toilet paper can feel like an extra challenge.

That’s why WellSpan has started to set up small markets for team members at many of its hospitals. The markets offer a selection of groceries and staple supplies, which vary by location. They can include grab-and-go dinners, peanut butter and jelly, eggs and milk, toilet paper, paper towels and other items.

“Staff are so stressed, and this is one less stop on the way home,” said Tim Bentzel, WellSpan’s senior director of food and nutrition services. “We have a little bit of everything.”

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Brittany Burd, a York Hospital neonatal intensive care nurse, shopped at the WellSpan York Hospital market during its grand opening.

“I appreciate the convenience of the market and that I am able to pick up something for dinner,” she said.

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hospital markets serve
Brittany Burd, NICU nurse, chooses items at the WellSpan York Hospital market. (Submitted photo)

Partnering with local markets

The WellSpan markets are a partnership with small, independent grocery stores or farmer’s markets across the region. Those stores bring in and set up their wares. They sell those items at the same price as in their regular stores.

Bentzel was inspired by a program already underway at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital; which has a partnership with The Butcher Shoppe, a local market. The Butcher Shoppe offers sandwiches, entrees and platters in a badge-access area to Chambersburg team members, who pay at a self-serve kiosk.

“We wanted to expand that a little bit,” Bentzel said.

Food service leaders considered the needs of staff across the region when setting up the small markets. They even responded to employee requests, stocking chocolate milk and flavored coffee creamers at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital, for example. They find that staff are picking up items to take home but also buying food they can eat while working.

Work is ongoing and the program varies across the WellSpan region. For example, leaders are still looking for a vendor for WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital. And one hospital, WellSpan Waynesboro, has opted not to have a market. But the markets are so successful at some locations that they may become a permanent fixture at hospitals.

“There has been a lot of excitement, a lot of curiosity,” Bentzel said. “I heard one gentleman say, ‘Thank goodness I don’t have stop on my way home. And I know people are wearing masks here.“

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Some of the items, and the participating markets:

  • York Hospital, in partnership with Leg Up Farmers Market: grab-and-go dinners, Stromboli, side salads such as Lo Mein, potato and macaroni salad, eggs, bacon, lunch meats, cheese, milk, baked goods, pasta, sauce, coffee, snack foods, paper goods and laundry detergent.
  • Ephrata Community Hospital, in partnership with Martin’s Country Market: grab-and-go dinners, eggs, milk (including chocolate milk) and flavored coffee creamers.
  • Chambersburg Hospital, in partnership with The Butcher Shoppe: pasta, sauce, bread, canned soup, toilet paper and paper towels.
  • Gettysburg Hospital, in partnership with Kennie’s Market: grab-and-go dinners, milk and bread.