a refrigerated food cooler with various fruits, yogurts and dairy products on display

Some of the grocery items available to care team members at the LincolnHealth grab-and-go grocery store

Like many other MaineHealth facilities, LincolnHealth in Damariscotta, ME, could only serve food to care team members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tom Schwarz, Director of the LincolnHealth Miles Café, and his team scrambled to accommodate the change. Tom then learned that many care team members were unable to buy groceries, due to demanding schedules. When they could shop, they faced widespread supply shortages. Tom and his team quickly shifted gears again, determined to bring groceries to care team members. Tom’s innovative intervention transformed the beloved Miles Café self-service salad bar into a grab-and-go grocery store. Within 48 hours the salad bar was replaced with food coolers and Tom was ordering hard-to-find staples such as bread, orange juice, cold cuts, flour, cleaning supplies and toilet paper through his hospital supply chain connections.

“The response has been incredible,” says Tom. “Employees love it and they hope it doesn’t go away after the pandemic ends.”

Tom and his team have expanded operations beyond keeping fellow care team members well stocked; they’re now providing meals and groceries to community members in need. Upon hearing of an elderly LincolnHealth patient who was concerned about who would care for her husband while she was in the hospital, the Miles Café team promptly prepared a series of meals and bags of groceries, all delivered to the couple’s home by Tom himself. Tom let providers know that if they had patients in need of meals or groceries, the reimagined Miles Café would do everything they could to assist.

Tom, his team and LincolnHealth leadership continue to innovate and are seeking a long-term solution to keep the store open and thriving long after the pandemic wanes.

two men wearing surgical masks standing in a small food store setting

Tom Schwarz (L) and Brook Betts (R) at the LincolnHealth grab-and-go grocery store


Brooks Betts
Senior Director of Operations

Jo-Anne Blomquist
Supervisor, Food Services
LincolnHealth Miles Campus

Miles Café staff

Tom Schwarz
Director of Nutrition Services
LincolnHealth Miles Campus

Our Purpose

MaineHealth Innovation builds connections to drive diversity of thought, educates to produce creative problem-solvers and funds to accelerate ideas. By leveraging the ideas, insights and expertise of all care team members to develop novel solutions to our unmet care needs, we are working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.

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