CommonSpirit Health transforms cafes in some hospitals into grocery stores to help front-line workers

A front-line health worker at one of CommonSpirit Health's hospitals buys groceries from one of the system's new stores. (CommonSpirit Health)

CommonSpirit Health has converted the cafes in several of its hospitals in Arizona and the Pacific Northwest into grocery stores to help out overwhelmed physicians and staff members.

The 137-hospital system said that the stores will provide staples that are not available in most retail stores, such as toilet paper and disinfectant cleaner.

“In addition to saving time, the on-site grocery stores enable CommonSpirit’s physicians and staff to avoid going to supermarkets or other public locations during a time when limiting public exposure is advised,” the system said in a release.

“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,” said Zoe Coleman, clinical nurse manager, nursery ICU at CommonSpirit Health’s St. Joseph’s Hospital Medical Center, in a statement. “At the end of the day, our staff can comfortably shop for essential items and have more time to spend with their loved ones.”

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CommonSpirit aims to roll out the grocery stores for more hospitals in its system.

The new grocery stores come as hospital systems try to protect their front-line staff from contracting the virus during patient care. Systems are also working to pay for child care and other benefits for providers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some hospital system CEOs and executives have donated their salaries to employee assistance funds and others are forced to furlough some of their workforce.

Hospitals are facing a major cash crunch due to COVID-19, which has forced the cancellation of elective procedures that bring in revenue for hospital systems.