Hospital workers have to eat, too. And food retailers are stepping up to make sure those essential pandemic employees don’t miss any meals or snacks, or waste any precious relaxation time shopping for personal items.
On Tuesday, 7-Eleven said it had opened its first hospital pop-up store at Children's Medical Center Dallas, which is the flagship operation of Children’s Health. Patients, visitors and staff can buy goods at the store.
The store provides access to food and essential items for health care workers and patient families during the COVID-19 health crisis. The pop-up store features grocery and personal care products such as take-home dairy, paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent and phone chargers as well as an assortment of fresh food options including salads, heat-and-eat entrees and take-and-heat pizza and wings.
The Dallas pop-up operation also involves making payments as safe and easy as possible for those healthcare workers. The convenience store said that to enhance the safety of the shopping experience during this unprecedented time, the pop-up store allows hospital staff to use their employee badges to pay for merchandise. The store also offers traditional credit/debit checkout with an acrylic sneeze guard at the counter to reduce person-to-person contact. Soon, the company added, pop-up store customers will be able to use mobile checkout via the 7-Eleven mobile app to pay for purchases.
The new Dallas pop-up is located in the hospital’s Moore Auditorium, usually the site of large meetings and conferences. Food workers employed by Children’s Health are helping to run the store, which will also enable delivery of items to other nearby hospital sites.
Such pop-up efforts are gaining steam in recent weeks, both in the U.S. and abroad, as health care workers continue to put in grueling hours during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For instance, Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare in Florida recently opened its own grocery pop-up, though it was not immediately clear on Tuesday if the effort was mostly an extension of the center’s existing snack offerings or involved an outside food retailer, as is the case in Dallas with 7-Eleven. In the U.K., food retail operators Tesco and Costcutter have separately set up pop-up groceries in some 20 hospitals in all, according to reports. “The new pop-up stores will provide key (healthcare) workers with access to everyday essentials such as bread and milk,” one report said about the ongoing Costcutter effort. “The unbranded stores will be manned by the hospitals’ restaurant staff and mainly make use of existing equipment within the hospitals.”