Lou’s cart a thing of the past at hospital

STAFF and visitors to Orange hospital who have used the coffee cart will have to find an alternative after Orange Health Service terminated the contract of the operator.

Louise Spicer, who secured the contract last year to operate as Lou’s Coffee Cart, said she wanted to talk to hospital management in the hope of being reinstated.

“I am absolutely devastated,” she said

“The first thing I knew I was handed a letter from management at 6.30am and told to pack up immediately,” she said.

Ms Spicer, who won a Daroo Business Award in 2011 for excellence in business, said the reason given by the hospital for her termination was she had breached her contract by not serving coffee for three consecutive days in December.

The Central Western Daily has learned the absence was due to a dispute between Ms Spicer and a business associate, during which the coffee cart was removed from the hospital.

“It was out of my control and I got it up and running again as soon as possible,” she said.

One staff member has told the Central Western Daily that prior to moving to the new site hundreds of staff a day were accessing coffee from outside the hospital.

The implementation of a contract for an independent operator to sell coffee was dependent on a percentage of each cup being donated to the hospital auxiliary.

“Last year the coffee cart donated $23,000 back to the hospital,” Ms Spicer said.

Another hospital staff member said the service was important to staff who wanted to be served quickly.

“We just don’t want to see it go - we can’t believe Lou’s been told to leave,” he said.

Hospital management has declined to give details of the dispute, other than to say it is investigating an alternative option.

“The coffee cart served about 300 people a day and the reason we started so early was that staff arrive at the hospital all day and most of the time they didn’t leave until late,” Ms Spicer said.

“The ladies at the auxiliary do a great job, but the service the coffee cart offered was completely different,” Ms Spicer said.

Another hospital staff member said the majority of people accessing the coffee cart were staff.

“We just don’t have the time to queue up for 20 minutes or fax our order through,” the staffer said.

When plans were drawn up for the new hospital the canteen was initially to be leased to a private operator, with the auxiliary relegated to a smaller room at the back of the hospital.

However planners later overturned that decision, saying the hospital auxiliary would be given the sole contract to provide food and beverages at the hospital.

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