John: Hi, I’m John Maher, I’m here today with Kristi Swett, a fifth generation Woodman and event coordinator at Woodman’s of Essex and today we’re talking about hospital event catering. Welcome, Kristi.
Kristi: Hello, John.
Types of Hospital Event Catering
John: So Kristi, what are some typical types of hospital events that you may do catering for?
Kristi: Well, we can do an entire staff appreciation, or we can cater for individual departments. We have catered for donors and board members, and we’ve also done some fundraising catering if they’re trying to earn money for a new wing or equipment they may need.
Locations for Hospital Event Catering
John: Okay. And what the typical locations that a hospital would have an event like that in?
Kristi: Depending on the type of event, it can happen right there at the hospital, or they can rent a space to have the event at. They might have to do something in terms of being at the hospital and using some type of space that’s also open to the public, or they might even be able to use some outdoor space right there.
John: Right, and that probably depends on where the hospital is located, right? A suburban hospital might have a good deal of outside space with a big nice lawn or something like that where they can have an outdoor event, but maybe an inner-city hospital might not. So you just have to sort of go by what’s available to you for that particular location.
Kristi: Right, exactly. In terms of where we’re going to cook, are we going to use their loading docks or if we are taking up some of their parking, is there parking for their staff and patients and visitors to still come and go and keep the hospital running?
John: Right, what about in terms of having these types of events — do the hospitals have to shut down part of the hospital in order to have an event or what about the public coming in and out of the hospital? It’s not like a private place where you can just say, “Okay, the hospital’s closed for the day because we’re having an event,” so how does that work?
Kristi: Right, the hospital would never close to give some type of appreciation event, so you do have to think of it being able to function at its normal capacity and have us there in addition to it. So one way is to make sure that we are feeding or providing the food for the right people. Do they have to hand us tickets or have some type of badge recognition? The other thing is where is it going to be? Are we going to close down the cafeteria and direct the public to a cafeteria on an alternate floor that they’re not necessarily used to using?
Challenges With Hospital Event Catering
John: What are some of the other issues that maybe come up in hospital event catering?
Kristi: If you’re doing appreciation for the entire staff, hospitals run on different types of shifts, so [you need to think about] how many serving times you’re going to have so everyone that is there feels included and appreciated. When we think of serving a large meal, something that happens at 11 PM might be overwhelming, but to the people that work their shift, they’re used to that time for eating.
John: Right, so most people who would work even an overnight shift, they might plan on having a big meal after they get off of their day of work, even if their day of work [is over] at six o’clock in the morning. They’re probably used to going home and making some sort of larger meal, so that’s okay? That works out in that case?
Kristi: Yes. Absolutely. You also need to think about how many people work each shift. [Does the day shift have more people] because it’s open in the middle of the day that all the appointments come in? [Does] the night shift [have] smaller shifts, so we need as many people and a big enough area to host the event [at night versus during the day?]
John: Okay, all right, well that’s really good information, Kristi, thanks for speaking with me today.
Kristi: Thank you, John.