OHSU high-risk healthcare workers receive meals from Portland restaurants

Tara Caruy d’Amalfis hands a bag of hot pasta dishes to OHSU graduate nurse Karl Tutsch on New Years Eve, as part of an effort to support frontline healthcare workers most exposed to the risk of burnout. (OHSU)

Oregon Health & Science University is bolstering some of its most stressed frontline healthcare workers with meals provided by Portland restaurants.

In recognition of healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, OHSU is providing meals using $ 30,000 in funding provided through a relief grant provided by SAIF, an insurance company in Oregon-based nonprofit.

The first meals were delivered on December 29.

Additional meals will be delivered twice a day to cover day and night workers in critical health care units on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays through the end of January. In total, the funding covers around 2,000 meals for the hospital units most affected by the care of patients with COVID-19.

“It has been an incredibly difficult year,” said Megan Furnari, MD, a neonatal hospitalist who has also taken a leadership role on the OHSU’s COVID-19 Wellness Working Group. “Employees are at the greatest risk of burnout. We really try to make sure they know we are there for them because they put their own lives on the back burner and patient care first.

Two masked adult women bring pasta meal bags to a masked OHSU employee in scrubs and a mask, where he loads them onto a white wheeled cart

Michael Menner, left, and Tara Caruy d’Amalfis deliver hot pasta dishes to OHSU on Thursday, December 31, New Years Eve. Karl Tutsch, RN, receives meals on behalf of the intensive care unit medical staff from OHSU, which treated the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients during the pandemic. (OHSU)

Meals will be purchased at five to ten local restaurants that have suffered heavy economic losses due to the pandemic.

This spring, many of those same restaurants provided meals to hospital workers across the Portland area in thanks for their efforts to treat the first wave of people hospitalized with the novel coronavirus.

“We recognize that in March and April the economic crisis was not as severe as it is now,” Furnari said. “We wanted to make sure we bought these meals from the same companies that helped us early in the pandemic. In this way, we hope to help our city get through this very difficult economic period. “

Kiauna Floyd, the third-generation owner of Amalfi’s in northeast Portland, worked with the Frontline Foods organization to provide meals to frontline staff at Portland hospitals throughout the pandemic.

Amalfi’s has not offered indoor dining since March, aware of the risk to employees and customers with the novel coronavirus spread in the community. The restaurant had to lay off three quarters of its staff.

Floyd said providing meals to frontline healthcare workers has provided a little hope for the company, which has been a Northeast Portland institution for 62 years.

“Every little bit counts,” she said. “It has been helpful to help keep the lights on and the doors open. “

Shannon Tivona, a Portland resident who previously headed the Portland chapter of Frontline Foods, volunteers her time to coordinate with area restaurants to deliver meals to frontline staff at OHSU.

“I’m just deeply in debt and grateful for everything they’re doing,” Tivona said.

Two masked women bring brown bags of pasta meals to a masked scrub OHSU employee, who loads them onto a white wheeled cart

Michael Menner, left, and Tara Caruy d’Amalfi deliver hot meals to OHSU frontline health workers on December 31, as part of an effort to support frontline health workers and also enjoy the local restaurants affected by the pandemic. Karl Tutsch, RN, receives meals outside the Doctors’ Pavilion on the OHSU Marquam Hill campus. (OHSU)

Floyd agreed, saying the restaurant was excited to feed frontline healthcare workers while looking forward to the day when Amalfi can open its doors to customers and employees.

“When all of this is said and done, we will have a moment to reflect on that time,” she said. “I think it’s important that we feel good about the choices we’ve made for our employees and for our community.

“We just want to do the right thing.”

Grant funding will provide meals to essential frontline healthcare providers through January, although Furnari said the wellness task force was open to expanding meal delivery to healthcare staff. intensives stressed with the support of corporate or philanthropic donors.

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Sandy A. Greer

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