For Nikita Wilson, cheering up a patient at UF Health Shands Hospital is as simple as bringing them a few extra sugar cookies or a soothing cup of hot tea after a long day.
“It’s just the littlest things that brighten their day,” she said.
Wilson has been a catering associate for the hospital for 10 months now, and although her job is demanding, she has loved every minute. A self-proclaimed people-person, Wilson enjoys quality interactions with patients and making them smile, she said.
“Some people just need a laugh for the day,” she said.
Wilson works 12-hour shifts, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., catering to her patients’ needs on Medical/Surgical Unit 74 at the UF Health Shands Hospital (north campus).
Some days she has as many as 40 patients, others she may have only 30. She gets closer with patients who have longer stays and learns what they like, or what they don’t like, she said.
Quality improvement is a key component of Wilson’s day-to-day work. Three times a day, she collects her patients’ requests for meals, loads the delivery cart with hot food, passes out the meals to every patient and later returns to gather up the empty trays.
And, more often than not, Wilson goes the extra mile to improve the overall quality of a patient’s visit by making sure they are satisfied with their meals.
“I try to make sure the patients can get everything that they need and want in the hospital,” she said, “So they can say they had a pleasant stay while they were here, and that they enjoyed their food.”