Jason Parker

Jason Parker

Going Above and Beyond in Food and Nutrition

Being responsible for the nutritional health of patients, families and staff at Midland Memorial Hospital requires a mix of high-level collaboration to keep an eye on the big picture across multiple campuses and care settings, but it also requires careful attention to the details, such as special dietary requests.

Jason Parker, director of food and nutrition for Midland Health, says collaboration and constant communication are two key strategies to keep the nutrition engine moving. “I encourage all of my employees to collaborate, whether I am seeking them out or they are seeking me out to address an issue or discuss ways to constantly be improving what we do.”

One example of this collaborative improvement is with Midland’s Health’s executive chef and other team members to replace all food fryer equipment with a baked option to promote a healthier daily menu for patients and staff that instills dietary wellness as a community ideal.

Communication At A Higher Level

Face-to-face communication is Parker’s preferred approach with his staff because most of his 98 employees are working the floor and don’t have as many opportunities to access email.

Parker starts each workday walking through the various areas of the food and nutrition department he oversees. This approach fits well with Midland Health’s organizational focus on instilling a Culture of Ownership in every aspect of care and service. Parker explains that a sense of ownership is honored and discussed through:   
  • daily team huddles to recite the Pickle Pledge and Self Empowerment Pledge promise of the day, and
  • continuous education on organizational core values.

“We focus on the core value of service because it generalizes everything we do with our patients, making sure we are helpful and getting the job done.”

Hands-on Leadership

Parker says ownership in practice can just as easily be seen in the way staff members approach their work, something Parker is always very proud to witness. He says he works to model ownership, as well as the mission, vision and core values of Midland Health in his own work. “I will roll up my sleeves and work the tray line or visit a patient room to drop off a tray; wherever I am needed to ensure we are getting the job done to truly serve our patients and staff.”

He also makes sure his door is always open and his staff members feel comfortable coming to him to discuss anything they need to. When it comes to collaborating on larger projects, Parker takes a democratic approach. “I prefer to work as a group to complete projects that move the department in the right direction.”

Empowered Practice Through Technology, Innovation

This democratic, collaborative approach has been the driving force moving along ambitious technologies, programs and promises to those Parker’s team serves. For example, Midland Health offers a full room service program so patients can order food at any time throughout the day. “If you are a patient here, you get your food your way when you want it,” Parker explains. “We feel this is an important service option to make our patients feel more comfortable and at home during their stay.”

Other technologies being implemented to maintain this high level of service include:

  • a tray-in-motion program (similar to how a shipping company tracks packages) to ensure a tray can be tracked efficiently at any point from when the order ticket is first printed through to the patient receiving food, and    
  • state of-the-art food preparation technologies in the kitchen.    
With this high level of energy being put into every aspect of food and nutrition at Midland Health, Parker expects any potential employee to be prepared to put high-energy into their own work. “Bringing on an employee to work at Midland Health requires time and energy to ensure staff members are prepared to actively engage in our collective work, I expect each of my employees to be 100% willing to give that energy back.”