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Lucy and Ethel Help in Rose Schnitzer Manor’s Newmark Dining Room

Written 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,” said server Adam. One shift, Adam said, the team was down a team member, but with the addition of the robots, two servers were able to successfully help everyone.

Finding staff to fill server positions was difficult before the pandemic and Covid has made the labor shortage even more challenging, said Cedar Sinai Park Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Fuson.

“The idea of using robots as extra hands originated from team members in Life Enrichment and Culinary Services. Then, with support from Rose Schnitzer Manor Administrator Vivian Villegas, the team made it happen,” said Fuson. “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, said 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,” said 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, one of “I Love Lucy’s” funniest episodes.

Lucy and Ethel 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,” said resident Gloria. “I enjoy watching them.”

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