Rosie the robot serves Edina seniors | Edina | – ECM Publishers

Rosie the robot

Rosie the robot, created by Bear Robotics, runs trays of food between the kitchen and dining room for residents of Aurora on France, a senior living facility in Edina. (Photo courtesy Aurora on France)

An Edina senior living facility is turning to a robot named Rosie to increase serving efficiency during mealtime.

Aurora on France rolled out Rosie this fall. The facility received the robot as part of a pilot program run by the complex’s operator, Ebenezer, to provide additional help as staffing has been a struggle in the industry.

“It steps in as an extra server for that server that we don’t have or are missing, so it supplements that way. And it really works good,” said Barbara Mekenye, executive director of Aurora on France.

To get Rosie up and running, an employee with Bear Robotics, the creators of the hospitality robot, showed staff how the robot works and programmed it for the layout of the facility’s kitchen and dining room. After being programmed, the robot could then understand specific tables to go to, the amount of meal trays to hold and how close to stop at a table, Mekenye said.

It also learned where to go in the kitchen to get plates loaded onto it, she said. After meals are placed onto Rosie by kitchen staff, the robot can then take the food to the table section it is assigned to.

“It works with good coordination,” Mekenye said.

Once it gets to a table, dining staff must take the trays off of the robot to serve it to residents.

“The only thing is we wish Rosie would be able to offload the (plates) from her tiers to the table. But hey, beggars are not choosers in this case,” Mekenye said.

Hiring enough staff has been a struggle in the healthcare industry, said Mekenye and Tamralynn Self, corporate director of culinary services for Ebeneezer, the senior housing division of Fairview Health Services.

Rosie the robot

Rosie the robot heads to kitchen to be loaded up with food to be served to residents of Aurora on France in Edina. (Photo courtesy Aurora on France)

“We’re having a terrible, terrible staffing crisis right now,” Self noted.

Mekenye said hiring had been picking up recently, but that it was not as robust as before the pandemic.

Even if the robot can’t physically serve the food, the use of Rosie helps boost efficiency during meals in that the facility can “keep one person in the dining room at all times and one person in the kitchen to expedite and load,” Self explained. “Rosie is the one that’s doing the running back and forth to the kitchen.”

“The residents love it because they don’t have to wait for the food,” Mekenye observed.

The name for the robot, Rosie, was chosen through a survey of Aurora on France residents. They chose the name in reference to the 1960s-era cartoon, “The Jetsons.”

“They had a field day on choosing the name,” Mekenye said.

So far, the robots have been use in a pilot program at two Ebenezer-operated sites, Aurora on France in Edina and Fountains at Hosanna in Lakeville, Self noted. In the future, she hopes to roll out the program across Ebenezer if it is determined to be helpful for staff, she said.

– Follow Caitlin Anderson on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent

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