Re­mem­ber­ing Chuck Lauer

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT -

If you be­lieve in an af­ter­life, you know for sure that Chuck Lauer is in heaven. He’s likely sit­ting with some old bud­dies, and en­joy­ing a beer and a ham­burger.

Karl Bays of Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tal Sup­ply is there, and so is Wal­ter McNer­ney, who helped de­sign Medi­care and led the merger be­tween Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Peo­ple from the history of health­care are there too—from Ben Franklin and Clara Bar­ton, to Michael DeBakey and Charles and Bill Mayo of the Mayo Clinic.

Chuck is prob­a­bly host­ing a spir­ited dis­cus­sion of “what’s right with health­care.” That’s a topic he talked about hun­dreds of times dur­ing pan­els and pre­sen­ta­tions and that he wrote about in his pop­u­lar pub­lisher’s let­ters. As his for­mer col­league, I’m proud to have been on the re­ceiv­ing end of what I call “the best of Chuck Lauer.” Chuck saw health­care as “Amer­ica’s most ex­cit­ing in­dus­try.” And he had many les­sons to teach about it and life:

Health­care was a busi­ness: But it was one where peo­ple came first. Be­fore ideas like pa­tient en­gage­ment hit the trade press, Chuck cham­pi­oned “ser­vice ex­cel­lence” and the im­por­tance of a warm touch, kind word or a smile. The pa­tient, he said, was and al­ways would be our rea­son for ex­is­tence.

Love the ones you’re with: Chuck be­lieved that ev­ery­one in health­care—from the crit­i­cal-care nurse to the en­vi­ron­men­tal ser­vices man­ager—played a vi­tal role in heal­ing and wellness. And he never missed an op­por­tu­nity to ac­knowl­edge unique wis­dom, skills or emo­tional in­sight.

Mind your man­ners: At a time when many of us be­moan the ab­sence of ci­vil­ity, Chuck was a true gen­tle­man. I’ll never for­get the way he rushed to open doors, rose when a woman en­tered the room and truly lis­tened.

Love your coun­try: Chuck planted an Amer­i­can flag in the cor­ner of his of­fice and of­ten gave it a crisp sa­lute. A veteran of the Korean War, he was the mil­i­tary’s best friend, shak­ing hands with ev­ery ser­vice per­son he met. He also proudly ended ev­ery speech with the phrase “God bless you and God bless the United States of Amer­ica.”

Keep on truck­ing: Chuck was 86 years old when he died but he never stopped work­ing. Re­tire­ment for him meant still speak­ing at events, writ­ing, con­sult­ing and serv­ing on boards. He was a swim­mer, golfer and hockey player who daily fol­lowed the gospel of wellness and good health.

De­spite my hes­i­tance to move to Mod­ern Health­care from Crain’s Chicago Busi­ness 16 years ago, Chuck con­vinced me I could make a dif­fer­ence. I am for­ever grate­ful for his faith in me.

Thank you, Chuck, for the les­sons and for set­ting Mod­ern Health­care on its path to the fu­ture. I will miss you very much. And I know I’m not alone.

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