PHOTO: Lucy and Ethel help servers at Cedar Sinai Park.
BY SYDNEY CLEVENGER
When the Newmark Dining Room is busy, there’s nothing like having extra hands. To the amusement of Rose Schnitzer Manor residents and the gratitude of servers, two new robots in the dining room – dubbed Lucy and Ethel – are now carting food to tables, leaving servers to manage other essentials.
“They are very helpful, especially during breakfast and dinner when it’s busier,” says server Adam. Adam notes than when the team was down a team member on one shift, the addition of the robots enabled just two servers to help everyone.
Finding staff to fill server positions was difficult before the pandemic, and Covid has made the labor shortage even more challenging, says Cedar Sinai Park CEO Kimberly Fuson. RSM is the assisted-living facility on the senior campus in Southwest Portland.
“The idea of using robots as extra hands originated from team members in Life Enrichment and Culinary Services,” says Fuson. “Then, with support from Rose Schnitzer Manor Administrator Vivian Villegas, the team made it happen. We are actively seeking creative ways to face the challenges of Covid.”
Villegas agrees: “Lucy and Ethel have improved morale during a time when our staff was stretched thin. It is important for our staff to know we are willing to try anything to support them!”
Each robot has three tiers that can hold up to six plates, according to Executive Chef/Director of Culinary Services Andy Staggs. Lucy and Ethel can also potentially be used for bussing tables.
“We are an early adopter of the robot technology in the senior living industry,” says Staggs. “I can only think of one other senior living facility in Oregon that uses them.”
Lucy and Ethel have their own name badges on the front and photos on the back to tell the robots apart. The photos depict television actresses Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance in uniform at a chocolate factory, where they went to work in one of the funniest episodes of “I Love Lucy.”
Lucy and Ethel the robots were named by an anonymous resident during a contest at Rose Schnitzer.
“I love it when they get to the doorway of the kitchen and then it looks like they might hit the door, and then they just barely miss,” says resident Gloria. “I enjoy watching them.”
Sydney Clevenger is the communications and events manager at Cedar Sinai Park.