West Reading Avenues Summer 2017 - 10

IN THE COMMUNITY

Tugging Along:
Reading Health System Relies on Robots to Carry Food
Trays to New Patient Care Building

R

eading Health System has put eight TUG autonomous mobile
robots to work to transport food trays to patient rooms in
its new HealthPlex building.

The robots have saved a lot of employee shoe leather while providing
efficient service to patients.
Help with transporting food trays became clear to Marge Kipe,
M.S.ED., RD, LDN, while she realized the distance between Nutrition
Services, of which she is Director, and the new Reading HealthPlex.

"We knew that Food Services is on Fifth Avenue and the HealthPlex
is on Seventh Avenue, but we didn't realize how much distance is
between those two locations," Kipe recalled.
When she and a colleague walked and measured the distance, they
found it was a quarter mile between the kitchen and patient rooms
in the HealthPlex. And, while a quarter-mile walk certainly is doable
a few times each day, the hospital's room service model of food
service means that trays are almost constantly being transported
back and forth.
"We could make that trip 50 times a day," Kipe said. "Our employees
would be running back and forth all day long. Do the math."
So, well before the building was set to open, Kipe addressed the issue
of how to make it easier to get the trays back and forth.
"I knew there had to be a better way," she said.
And then, she remembered some robots she had seen in action during
a conference she attended.
Kipe had actually addressed the idea of using robots once previously,
but the technology was newer at that time and the cost prohibitive
because tracks needed to be installed in the floors and other accommodations made.
When addressing the matter again last year, however, she learned
that the robots, manufactured by Pittsburgh-based Aethon, Inc.,
were now wireless and that the cost had come down considerably.
After visiting a couple of hospitals where TUGs were already in use,
Kipe was convinced that they would be right for Reading.
8

Avenues Summer 2017



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