Community Highlight: CommonSpirit Health Turns Cafes to Grocery Stores

Since CommonSpirit Health opened in February 2019. they’ve grown into the largest Catholic health system and second-largest nonprofit hospital chain in the United States. With more than 150K employees and 25K physicians working for them, CommonSpirit Health extends to 137 hospitals, over 1000 care sites and 21 states.

On 9 April 2020, they announced how they plan to support hospital employees and show their appreciation for the difficult, necessary jobs done by healthcare workers nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

friendly young doctors smiling over a white background - focus is on the female doctor on the right

Opening Groceries in Affiliated Hospitals

To show their appreciation and assist their workers on the front lines, CommonSpirit Health has turned hospital cafes into groceries in associated institutions in Arizona and the Pacific Northwest.

These temporary, makeshift grocery stores are open to physicians and other staff working at those hospitals. Zoe Coleman, the clinical nurse manager at St. Joseph’s Hospital Medical Center in Arizona, said in a statement, “Our staff are working more than 12 hours every day and the grocery store allows them to feel their work is valued in a way that goes above and beyond what I can say on the floor as their manager. At the end of the day, our staff can comfortably shop for essential items and have more time to spend with their loved ones.”

These markets stock necessities that have long since gone out of stock on most stores’ shelves. Available items include toilet paper, milk, eggs and disinfectant wipes so that employees can stay healthy and fed without having to face additional risk at traditional grocery stores, especially since they already have twelve hour shifts every single day taking care of their communities and thus routinely jeopardizing their health.

These groceries not only save them from added exposure, but also allow workers to go shopping directly after their shift without commuting to a second location. The stores remain open during the same hours that the cafes operated. This lets them spend more of their time off with their family, doing things they love and taking care of themselves just as they take care of everyone else.

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How is all of this possible?

Throughout their tenure as a successful nonprofit organization, CommonSpirit Health has formed relationships with supply chains that allow them to acquire these coveted items, when most carriers can’t find them anywhere.

The personal connection to these supply chains also makes it possible for affiliated hospitals to put in customized orders for any items required by individual employees or specific to their local community.

Planning for the Future

Although as of now, CommonSpirit Health has only managed to establish these temporary groceries in a few of their associated hospitals, they hope to soon expand this operation to all of their affiliated establishments across the United States.

In addition to providing access to hard-to-find household necessities, some CEOs and executives have donated portions of their salaries to funds dedicated to helping hospital workers. Still, others have had little choice but to furlough a percentage of their workforce until hospitals have more incoming revenue to pay them all what they deserve.

However, not every one has had to cut costs. On top of extending their cafe-turned-groceries initiative to more hospitals in need, CommonSpirit Health is also working hard to introduce child care and other benefits so as to take away some additional burden that has befallen these workers as their hours increase.

Medical team clapping hands during a conference

As we all show our appreciation for the important but risky work performed by healthcare providers during this time, nonprofits like CommonSpirit Health are going above and beyond to demonstrate how much they value their workers while they continue to save and protect those most vulnerable in society. Members of affected communities can donate to CommonSpirit Health so that they can bring their good will and effort to more of their affiliated hospitals across the country.

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