Darling Downs Hospital and Health Board Chair Mike Horan officially opened the Toowoomba Hospital’s new $9.76 million state-of-the-art kitchen today.
Mr Horan was joined by other Board members, health service executives, staff and community members to tour the new facility.
The opening was also an opportunity to officially open and bless the hospital’s refurbished non-denominational Place of Prayer.
"When patients are admitted to the Toowoomba Hospital they are not only under the care of our dedicated doctors, nurses and ward staff, they also come into the care of the hospital’s catering and nutritional team," Mr Horan said.
"Each day the kitchen produces more than 1000 meals and each of those meals has been carefully selected to ensure every patient is receiving the best nutrition possible.
"Patients have the opportunity to select their meal preferences every day. These choices are then reviewed by hospital dieticians to make sure patients are getting everything they need nutritionally."
The kitchen employs 60 staff members who help deliver three meals plus morning and afternoon teas to patients.
Toowoomba Hospital catering manager Geoff Schultz said the kitchen catered to all patients ranging in age from small children to some the community’s most senior residents.
"We are able to cater to most dietary requirements, including gluten-free, vegan and allergies, as well as texture food requirements like pureed, minced, soft and chopped," Mr Schultz said.
"A lot of ‘behind-the-scenes work’ goes into every plate that we send out."
Mr Schultz said the new kitchen was also designed with the environment in mind.
"Sensor lights have been fitted to the walk-in fridges and freezers and the new dishwasher uses a third of the water compared to the older model," Mr Schultz said.
"We also recycle all of the cardboard boxes that come into the kitchen."
The new kitchen is located on the northern side of the hospital campus and replaces the old kitchen which was built in 1965. After a tender process, the new facility was constructed by Wiley and Co and a number of local subcontractors including Burke Industries, Live Wired Electrical and Toowoomba Refrigeration and Catering Equipment were also appointed.
The new kitchen was also blessed by the hospital’s pastoral care team which resides adjacent to the new facility.
Pastoral Care team leader Sharon Kirk said the kitchen works proved an opportunity to also refurbish the hospital’s Place of Prayer.
"The Place of Prayer is a space that now also features an outdoor courtyard for quiet reflection," Ms Kirk said.
"It’s a space where all visitors to the hospital, patients and staff can come to find quiet from the hubbub of the rest of the hospital."
The hospital’s Pastoral Care team offers spiritual and emotional support 24-hours a day, seven days a week and is located on the ground floor of the Medical Block.