Healthcare Case Study

Maria Parham Health Sees Increased Retail Sales and Team Member Engagement [Case Study]

Maria Parham Health is a Duke LifePoint Hospital located in Henderson, North Carolina. In 2018, they partnered with HHS’ culinary services to improve the dining experience for their patients, guests, staff, and community.

maria parham health entryway


Maria Parham’s Goals

Grow retail sales

Improve team member engagement and retention

Increase patient satisfaction

HHS’ Approach

Implement our chef-driven philosophy

Emphasize culture and team member development

Apply a patient-centered approach


Steady increase in retail sales

Increased team member satisfaction and reduced turnover

Improved patient satisfaction

0E1A3403-178Retail Sales


Maria Parham and HHS established a baseline retail sales number at the outset of the partnership based on the hospital’s previous 12 months’ total retail sales. The goal for HHS was to exceed that annual baseline every year.

To achieve that goal, HHS had two main challenges to address: the quality and freshness of food and the variety and assortment of menu offerings.


HHS’ chef-driven philosophy allows our on-site chefs to actively engage with their community and customer base to understand their expectations and desires regarding food. 

At Maria Parham, we took the time to get to know our customers. We made a concerted effort to ask them questions about what they felt they were missing and learned their likes and dislikes.

After collecting information about our customers, we began with the basics. We developed exciting new menus, used fresh produce and meats, and meticulously garnished our dishes to make the food look enticing. We also created a more engaging cafe environment with fresh, new designs featuring seasonal banners and signage and provided multiple food station options for guests to choose from.

“We made it known from day one that we were here to take care of them and to provide foods and services that met their needs.” - HHS Culinary Director

Chef’s Table

HHS’ Chef’s Table is an interactive cooking station that offers made-to-order entrees for customers. This program allows guests at Maria Parham to customize their meals while our executive chef prepares their order right in front of them. 

Chef’s Table is offered five days a week and introduces new flavors and foods that guests don’t often experience as well as elevated comfort classics. This program generates excitement around the hospital about what’s next on the menu. Hospital staff and guests look forward to coming to the cafe to see what our chef is creating.

Events and Catering

We often run contests and celebrate holidays to create excitement within the hospital. Our goal wasn’t to make Maria Parham’s cafe a quiet, library-like experience, but to make it engaging and lively.

We also prioritized our catering program and incorporated fresh flavors and rotating menus which helped drive more retail revenue streams for the hospital. Our chef is intentional about the presentation and arrangement of the food. Our food is not only flavorful — it’s a work of art.


In our three years at Maria Parham, we’ve continually increased retail sales year over year — even during COVID-19.

Year 1 - 13.4% above baseline

Year 2 - 44.96% above baseline

Year 3 - 50.02% above baseline*

*During COVID-19

0E1A3539-208Team Member Engagement and Retention

HHS is a people company. At the heart of HHS’ success is our team members, which is why we believe that investing in our people ultimately determines the positive outcomes we deliver to our partners. One of  Maria Parham’s goals was to improve team member engagement and retention. To address this, we implemented a strategy that revolved around communication, development, and community. This approach has led to improved team member satisfaction scores, as well as several HHS team members winning employee of the month at the hospital, and even one of our team members being named employee of the year in 2020.


Every day at 10 am, we have team huddles to set clear goals and expectations, adjust and update our catering calendar, discuss safety tips, and review key procedures and best practices. This daily communication creates transparency and improves two-way communication between leadership and hourly team members.


To maintain a consistent culture of learning and development, we focus on cross-training our team members. As team members master one position, we begin teaching them aspects of other roles. This cross-training keeps team members engaged in all aspects of our culinary operation and helps establish a culture of teamwork and helping out wherever assistance is needed.


Keeping hourly team members motivated is vital to our overall success. We remind our team members at every opportunity that what they do is impacting their community — and maybe even their friends and family members. That message of caring for our community resonates with our team members and helps them keep the big picture of their impact at the forefront of their minds.


Our annual team member surveys measure satisfaction in communication, development, job satisfaction, and leadership. The anonymous surveys consist of a series of statements that allows team members to select if they strongly disagree, disagree, agree, or strongly agree with the statement. Example questions include:

• Communication from my management team is clear

• I understand how to use HHS’ OneTeam open door policy

• I am part of a team that works well together

• I would recommend HHS to friends and family as a good place to work

• My  management team is professional and respectful

The following results from Maria Parham represent the percentage of team members who responded positively (agree or strongly agree) to each category’s questions.


Beginning of partnership - 73.33% satisfaction

After year 1 - 94.44% satisfaction


Beginning of partnership - 73.33% satisfaction

After year 1 - 83.33% satisfaction

Job Satisfaction

Beginning of partnership - 82% satisfaction

After year 1 - 91.67% satisfaction


Beginning of partnership - 74% satisfaction

After year 1 - 91.67% satisfaction

In our first year, we also reduced the team member turnover rate by 8.06%.

healthcare_website_0000_culinary-a unique approach to retail-0E1A3433-182An Immediate Impact on Patient Satisfaction

We integrated our patient ambassador program with Maria Parham’s culture of patient-centered care to create an optimal patient experience. Rather than just being order-takers, we train our ambassadors to take their time and engage with patients and explain all the various menu options.

From the start of our partnership with Maria Parham, we prioritized following up with patients and showing that we care. We make it known that our director, chef, and registered dietitians are always available to talk to any patient for any reason.


The immediate implementation of our patient ambassador program and the improvement in the quality and freshness of food contributed to a 5.6 point increase in patient satisfaction scores in just the first six months of our partnership.

Summary of Results

maria parham-graphs_patient satisfaction

maria parham-graphs_team member engagement and retentionmaria parham-graphs_results sales

0E1A3206-101“We’ve enjoyed partnering with HHS for Food and Nutrition Services over the past few years. The patient ambassador program has been a welcomed addition to our food and nutrition program. The patient ambassadors do an excellent job connecting with our patients and making the interactions personal and meaningful. In addition, the program has had a positive impact on our patient satisfaction scores.” - Maria Parham Hospital CEO Bert Beard 

Learn more about HHS' Culinary Services.