Hospital struggles with food scores

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 4:58pm
By: Ben Nelms

One of county’s largest food service operations, Piedmont Fayette stuck in low 80s on health inspections, including a 78 in February 2009

Local restaurants generally pride themselves on prominently displayed health inspections with scores in the 90s to occasional 100s.

But venture into the public dining room of Fayette County’s only hospital, and you will see month after month of scores in the low 80s — grades that would cause many restaurant patrons to cringe.

Recent food service inspections at Piedmont Fayette Hospital have carried scores in the low 80s. While scoring in the mid to high 90s in previous years, the hospital has scored below 90 in four inspections so far this year.

The scoring includes the kitchen area that serves up hospital food to hundreds of sick patients monthly.

The two most recent scores were 81 and 82 out a possible score of 100, an unhappy report card, according to hospital Communications Director Ryan Duffy.

“We are not satisfied with our recent (state) Food Service Inspection Report scores in the 80s and have corrected the findings of the assessment. We also continue to assess opportunities to improve our survey performance and scores,” Duffy said. “At Piedmont Fayette Hospital, patient and visitor safety and high quality care are our top priorities.”

The hospital food service area got an 81 on its July 15 food service inspection. The hospital was cited on three scoring areas.

Under the Protection from Contamination category relating to keeping food separated and protected the food service area was cited for nine points for “Raw eggs/egg products stored above ready to eat food in reach-in cooler near grill area (room service area).”

Another violation in that category was for four points relating to food-contact surfaces cleaned and sanitized for “additional cleaning of can opener, slicer and handles on reach-in cooler.”

A third violation carrying a three-point penalty under the Safe Food and Water, Food Identification category noted the need to “Properly label all bulk item containers.”

The last violation, in the Prevention of Food Contamination category, carried a three-point penalty for “Storing wiping cloths in provided sanitizer bucket.”

All the violations were rectified at the time of the inspection and the score received did not require a follow-up inspection, said county Lead Food Service Inspector Robert Kurbes.

Duffy in comments Monday said the hospital is confident that it is maintaining a high quality food service operation.

“The identified code infringements have not compromised the safety and quality of our patient room service meals nor the retail food service for our guests, staff, physicians and volunteers,” she said. “Our Fayette County Health Department inspectors have a tremendous responsibility to our community, and we appreciate their attention to detail as well as their partnership to educate our staff.”

Kurbes said a more recent inspection occurred on Oct. 20. At that inspection the food service area scored an 82. Those violations related to other inspection categories for hand-washing and food temperatures, Kurbes said, and both were corrected at the time of the inspection.

The hospital’s first inspection in 2009 came on Feb. 23 when the food service area received a score of 78. That score was followed by a score of 85 when the inspector returned two weeks later on March 5. Earlier inspections showed a score of 88 in November 2008, an 85 in July 2008, a 94 in April 2008, and 98 in January 2008 and a 99 in September 2007.

Addressing food service inspections in general, Kurbes said Georgia is undergoing changes in the way inspections are handled. The codes in the 1990s totaled 78 pages while the new codes are up to 152 pages, he said. The new guidelines began being enforced in December 2007, Kurbes said, adding that inspectors saw the scores in some facilities decrease while others increased.

“The change is in the way we inspect. The new codes (reflect) risk-based inspections. We’re not as concerned with bricks and mortar. We’re more concerned about where we are getting our food-born illnesses,” Kurbes explained, adding that the new codes emphasize variables such as temperature control and personal hygiene.

Kurbes said the food service inspection grading methodology rates scores as “A,” “B,” “C” or “U.” Scores of 90-100 are given an “A” while scores of 80-89 receive a “B” and 70-79 gets a “C.” A score of “U” is for anything below 69.

One of the new protocols currently being put in place statewide is the establishment of a Certified Food Service Manager at each food service location. Piedmont Fayette already has that person in place, Kurbes said.

Kurbes said a score of A or B is acceptable by state standards. A score of C or U triggers enforcement actions that result in follow-up inspections. New state protocols addressing repeat violations in the same category or sub-category areas result in the establishment losing additional points. Meetings with management and staff will also occur by protocol and can lead to administrative or even legal action if the establishment persists in its violations.

“Under the current grading system, if a facility gets and A or B and corrects the violation of food-born risk factors that score will stand and it will be inspected again at the next routine inspection, usually in three months,” Kurbes said. “If it scores a C or U the inspector comes back much sooner and does a complete re-inspection.”

For more information on rules and regulations governing food service, food code revisions and other information visit the Food Service portion of the Georgia Dept. of Community Health website at

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Submitted by hhamlin@hamlina... on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 8:46pm.

4 years ago I almost died of a ruptured spleen. The paramedics got me there very quickly and the ER doctor quickly got Dr. Winger from surgery to look at me. Dr. Winger did emergency surgery and saved my life. I was in the Intensive care unit and the step down unit and then in a regular room. The staff was very professional and took great care of me. I have nothing but good things to say about Piedmont Fayette Hospital. I'm sure they will address the food scores!

Submitted by Bonkers on Thu, 11/19/2009 - 1:55am.

An excellent surgeon (lap.).

Can take out appendix and other bothersome things at the same time with little holes!

Nothing wrong with doctors, just management and dedication.

Submitted by disgruntled on Thu, 11/19/2009 - 10:12am.

"nothing wrong with doctors, just management and dedication." MANAGEMENT being the operative word. There are many good doctors at Piedmont Fayette but the management style at Piedmont Fayette is what holds it back from being a really great hospital. I think the Atlanta Piedmont is better though.

WakeUp's picture
Submitted by WakeUp on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:11pm.

2 years ago I suffered a massive heart attack in my LAD (widow maker) artery. I walked in and they took me straight back to the ER. Hooked me up to the machines and called in a Cardiologist. They were quick to stabilize me and the Cardiologist knew thier limitations and called for a helicopter to take me to Atlanta for 2 stints, etc. Fayette Piedmont SAVED my life. There must have been 8 - 10 people in my room working on me. I am sorry others had a less than superb experience, but there are times when a specialist is required and Fayette cannot afford to have world class everything here 24 - 7.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 10:05am.

I don't know about the food service but I would give them a score in the single digits for their health service.

I would be a widower today had I not insisted, two years ago, on transferring my wife out of there and up to Emory, where they saved her life.

Perhaps I should have ID tags with medical info made for all members of my family in case any of us is in an accident and unconscious. They will read, "I VALUE MY LIFE. TAKE ME ANYWHERE BUT PIEDMONT FAYETTE."

Submitted by Spyglass on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:54pm.

ALL very good ones. I type this, because sometimes only folks with negative stories to tell, talk.

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:06pm.

I'm glad that you made out ok.

I have had 4 co-workers who had bad luck. 3 of them were taken to Emory after attempts to get help locally failed miserably . The 4th one died in the waiting room at Piedmont.

2 of the 3 were in for simple appendicitis attacks that turned serious after the appendix ruptured.
They really need to have real doctors supervising the interns in the ER. Not cool when you miss the simple stuff.

I'll take the dog tags that Tug and Muddle will be carrying. If you can't get me to a real hospital in time then obviously it's my time to go.

Submitted by disgruntled on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:45am.

being a patient there is bad, you should try being an employee there. Bad management of human resources/employee relations. Piedmont Fayette is the "trail of tears" for a lot of hospital workers. You go there all excited and enthusiastic and you leave there broken and crushed.

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:12pm.

I know several people who have left, and several paramedics who dread leaving patients there.

The paramedics I know have a common saying as they wait for help with their patients. They look at each other and remark that "this could be a really great place for a hospital".

Submitted by disgruntled on Thu, 11/19/2009 - 9:43am.

"this could be a really great place for a hospital" is so true. It COULD be if the hospital executives and managers pursued excellence and hired/retained employees who want to pursue excellence. The problem is they do hire people who want to be the best at what they do and follow all the policies and live by the "Piedmont Promise", but then they (the management) don't do their best and so the good employees leave and then you end up with mediocrity or worse.

matt.barnes's picture
Submitted by matt.barnes on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:19am.

My sister had to go there last year. By the time I got there she was already in but there were people in the waiting room complaining about 6-8 hour waits.

EDITED & WARNED for violation of terms of service -- language.

-Just a funny quote from that day.

Submitted by normal on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 7:24pm.

Wait till Obama gets his new government run health care. You will wait for months. Nothing the government does works or makes money. Only idiots up there, just ask the chinese. They are laughing at us.

matt.barnes's picture
Submitted by matt.barnes on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:18pm.

Darn, I can't even slip one "S" word past Cal. He is quick. Does he have a program that searches out four letter words automatically?

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 4:31pm.

Maybe they are called "bloggers" spies?

SPQR's picture
Submitted by SPQR on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 1:09pm.

There are some departments that do a creditable job. These departments often send out feedback questionnaires. Other departments such as the emergency room where you could easily die because of their failure to screen patients properly never seek patient feedback.

Submitted by disgruntled on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:50am.

That is what my friends say about Piedmont Newnan. Piedmont should of stayed in Atlanta and not spread out to the suburbs. Emory should of came to the south side.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 12:24pm.

I'm revisiting a point I've made on these boards before.

But our experience with Emory changed my perception of the medical profession forever. I had, for a long time, operated with the stereotype of the average physician as a pompous ass who imagines himself/herself as having recently descended from Mt. Olympus. Consider Dr. Gregory House.

My wife's team of Emory doctors, from several departments, included several individuals of impressive credential, accomplishment and accolade, who actually listened to our questions and valued our opinions and suggestions.

Her surgeon, who, it is no exaggeration to say, saved her life because of his practical wisdom and skill, is a model of humility. I once ventured a suggestion as to a possible cause of one of her symptoms, and then quickly added the caveat, "But, of course, what do I know about these things?" This guy turned and said, "You may know more than I. Patients often learn volumes about their particular disease, and I've learned to listen to their opinions."

I'll never forgive him for this. He forever ruined my perception of doctors.

ImJustSaying's picture
Submitted by ImJustSaying on Fri, 11/20/2009 - 7:11am.

Good gosh Muddle, won't you please let it go? At least your moniker is accurate. If you must opine, why not stay on topic? We all thrill at your wife's recovery. However, how responsible is it of you to attempt negatively influencing others perceptions when in fact the closest facility may be the best choice for someone else? You've relentlessly droned on and on about your feelings, which are sepcific only to your unique situation. Won't you please let it go and opt out of negatively influencing others unique situations? There may be people who will say their experience was better at Piedmont Fayette than at Emory. Won't you please spend at least as much energy supporting your local institution? How about joining the auxilary and being part of all their wonderful and meaningful work? Volunteer to be of service and make things better for your friends and neighbors. Now that's some change you can believe in, and be a part of. Try to remember it's not all about you and your feelings. PS: Try the ham and cheese omelet at the hospital cafe, but remember, gotta order it by 0930.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Fri, 11/20/2009 - 9:32am.

Try to remember it's not all about you and your feelings.

What took you so long? I wrote this the other day conscious of the fact that it would tick you off.

Actually, I was holding back, but now you've gone and forced it out of me.

You're right. It's not about my feelings at all. Nothing subjective about it.

Why am I so down on the local facility? Because it is a community hospital rather than a tertiary hospital? Nope. They have their place--particularly in communities far away from major cities with centers of excellence (are we?). Because the hospital food is terrible? Actually, the food at Emory may be worse. Do I think that there are no competent doctors here? That is certainly false. I know of one very gifted and published surgeon--the guy who diagnosed my own cancer--who uses the local facility. And, in fact, the doctor who eventually was assigned to my wife's case, and helped me to get her transferred to Emory, was quite good and even known and respected by several of the Emory doctors.

Then why do I "drone on and on"?

Because she came into the ER with an extremely serious condition that, I learned later, called for immediate and aggressive treatment, and received nothing of the kind.

Not only was the wait in ER interminable (we arrived at 10 a.m.; she was finally taken back just after 6 pm), they admitted her later that evening to one of their semi-private rooms (that's another horror story), and then basically lost her.

Apparently, a resident doctor had been assigned to her case but had never been notified. So she was "shelved" for the first two critical days, with no treatment other than a saline IV. I was there, watching her deteriorate and kept asking the nurses when a doctor would show up. It was not until I blew my top out in the hallway that they finally rounded up a doctor, who came in briefly on the third morning.

By the time the hospital rounded up someone who actually understood how life-threatening her condition was, her condition had plummeted, and her vital organs were showing signs of going offline. A day or two after she arrived at Emory, her doctor pulled several family members aside and told them to brace themselves for the worst. And, a couple of weeks later, when it became clear that she was going to pull through, some of the other doctors confided that they had thought that she wasn't going to make it. It is unlikely that any of this would have happened had she received the proper treatment upon arrival at the first hospital.

Are there people who report good experiences? There darn well better be. In fact, my dad was admitted there several years ago, and I can honestly say that he seemed to receive good treatment. I know he was happy, anyway. Indeed, my guess is that at the objectively worst facilities in the nation it is still the case that the majority of patients admitted see improvement in their conditions and have little to complain of save the food.

What happened in our particular case was simply unconscionable.

Other than your obvious bias and affiliation with this hospital, what can be the objection to the sharing of this bad experience? Are only the positive accounts welcome?

And I think you either underestimate the intelligence of readers here or overestimate my rhetorical and persuasive skills. People are bright enough to weigh the positive against the negative and decide for themselves where to seek treatment. Indeed, if what I claim above is true, then irresponsibility lies with the one who would suppress such information. You worry that someone may read me and consequently make a risky emergency run to Atlanta, bypassing the treatment available next door. I worry that the mismanagement that we experienced next door may be repeated with dire consequences.

Submitted by disgruntled on Thu, 11/19/2009 - 10:06am.

Emory is the best Atlanta has to offer in my opinion. My dad is treated by Emory doctors at the VA medical center and when he goes to Emory hospitals for special procedures. The great and lucky thing about the VA in Atlanta is that there are Emory doctors there. The VA hospital is not the best at customer service, wait times, etc., but the doctors there have saved my dad's life a few times. He has been at death's door more than once and they brought him back and he is living a great quality life right now. He could of been dead several years ago, but he is still around and doing great and enjoying life.

I think what sets Emory apart is that it is a teaching hospital and is connected with one of the best universities. Emory really appreciates and understands the importance of education and continuing learning. They promote knowledge and encourage it. The doctors seem to work as a team and are not control freaks who are to stubborn to listen to other opinions/advice.

If you have a complex medical problem or life-threatning emergency, I think Emory, Grady, or the Atlanta VA would be better than some of the other hospitals simply because they have Emory doctors (Emory med students) at these hospitals. Of course you have to go through the emergency room process first, but once you get seen by the doctors you will be in good hands if they are from Emory.

Emory really does pursue excellence.

Tug13's picture
Submitted by Tug13 on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 3:34pm.

Muddle is exactly right. I had a bad experience at Piedmont Fayette also. I have told my children if something happens to me do not take me there! Having ID tags might be a good idea.

Emory doctors are wonderful! I have a very rare syndrome & I can't thank the Emory doctors enough for what they have done to help me. Muddle it's like you said they actually listen to you, & appreciate your input.

I have to go back to Emory in December and I'm looking forward to seeing my doctors! How many people can say that? Smiling

Muddle..hope Mrs. Muddle is doing well!

Tug Smiling

matt.barnes's picture
Submitted by matt.barnes on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:50pm.


Submitted by smile on Tue, 11/17/2009 - 9:17pm.

the hospital should take lessons from some of the fast food workers who work at the restaurants that score a "100" or in the high 90's. If Taco Bell can do it, then so can a hospital. Smiling

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 5:09am.

What happened to the "A" "B" "C" ratings? (where "A" was 80-100; "B" was 60-80; and "C" was 40-60. "D" "F" or "0" would not be issued, but a toxic crew would show up.

These inspections are still pretty much mundane anyway.
One can tell without a list of regulations and a clipboard if a restaurant is clean:

Windows inside and outside are clean and sparkly.
There are no weeds in the roof gutters.
The cooks hair is clean and neat. With a cap.
The waitress doesn't look like Dirty Gerty from Dick Tracy.
The bathrooms don't stink and the floor is dry and shiny.
The commodes are scrubbed and smell sweetly.
The forks and knives are free of stains and dried eggs.
Rubber gloves are used to handle raw food and to break eggs.
The doors can be opened with your elbows!

Submitted by totellthetruth on Tue, 11/17/2009 - 6:07pm.

So which is worse...H1N1 risk or the food?

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