Eastern Health spends $35K on staff lunches over 2 months

While Eastern Health cut out its night time snack trolley for patients to save money, CBC News has learned free lunches are still being provided for some catered meals for management and staff at the health authority.

Authority had eliminated trolley that offered snacks to patients at night

CBC News has learned Eastern Health has spent more than $35,000 in two months on management and staff meals. (CBC)

While Eastern Health cut out its night time snack trolley for patients to save money, CBC News has learned free lunches are still being provided for some catered meals for management and staff at the health authority.

 

CBC News learned through an access to information request $35,220 was spent between Feb. 1 and March 31 on catered meals.

Newfoundland and Labrador's largest health authority stopped delivering evening snacks to patients at St. Clare's Mercy Hospital and the Health Sciences Centre in October 2013 in order to save money as part of an initiative to trim $43-million.
Eastern Health changed its policy on serving bedtime snacks in October. (CBC)

In January, Eastern Health said it saved $97,000 in labour costs by cutting the service; however, more than a third of that has been spent in a two month period to pay for staff meals.

Debbie Molloy, interim vice president of human resources at Eastern Health, said there has been a push to reign in spending in that area, as well.

"What we did ask people to do last fall was to look at when were they providing meals or snacks in meetings and to try and curtail that whenever they could," she said.

Molloy added the amount of money spent on the catered lunches seemed reasonable, given the nature of the meals provided.

"We do think it's reasonable in an organization that's our size. We have over 13,000 employees and we provide services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and sometimes we have to have meetings around when it's appropriate for … around delivery of care," she said.

"Sometimes that does happen during lunch times or during evening times, and we think it is reasonable, when we ask someone to give up their meal break, to provide them with a meal."

Molloy said patients can still get night time snacks if they request them.

As of March 31, Eastern Health was at the $27-million mark of its plan to cut $43-million.

With files from Adam Walsh

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