West Reading Avenues Summer 2017 - 11
She approached management regarding the purchase, and was pleasantly surprised when the
purchase of eight robots was approved.
"God bless the management," Kipe said. "They
took a leap of faith. They hadn't seen the robots
yet, but they trusted us to make it work."
Kipe and other Nutrition Services staff have
developed what so far has been an almost mistake proof system.
Supervisors in the Nutrition Services department
summon TUG remotely. When the robot arrives,
the truck holding food trays is placed on its base
and automatically lifted off of the floor. The
robot then advances from the food service line
in the cafeteria to the HealthPlex on the other
side of campus, guided by an internal map.
When TUG arrives to the HealthPlex, employees
are waiting in the service area to collect the food
truck and serve their patients. The robot does
not enter patient floors.
"And after the trays are delivered, you push a
button on the TUG and then it turns around
and goes away," Kipe said.
While use of the robots is currently confined to the new Reading HealthPlex, Kipe
is optimistic that more may be put into use
in the coming year. Employees have been
enthusiastic about the robots, which did not
take jobs from employees. In fact, Kipe said, five
additional food service workers were hired after
the completion of the HealthPlex.
While employees are happy with the robots, patients are happy with the room-service model,
which enables them to get a meal or snack almost
any time they want it.
"That's been a win-win, because the patients love
it, and it's actually a model that makes it easier
for staff," Kipe said.
Delivering food on demand instead of at prescribed times greatly increases the likelihood
that patients will be in their rooms when the
food is delivered.
"We'll be looking to see what role robots might
play in Nutrition Services at Reading Health
in the future," Kipe said. "But for now, they're
doing a great job."