A Q&A with Laura Knight
Laura Knight is the Vice President of Patient Services for Morrison Healthcare. A 19-year company veteran and a graduate of Purdue University, Laura took over responsibility for Patient Services approximately one year ago. Below, she discusses how Patient Services associates can be part of the healing process and how Morrison is working to attract people seeking careers.
Q: What does the Patient Services team do?
Laura: Our associates deliver tens of thousands of meals every day to hospital patients across the country. We work with chefs and the hospital’s wellness teams, among others, to deliver the right meals to each patient. It sounds easy, but it’s not. Each meal must be delivered on time, the order must be accurate and the food needs to be cooked and delivered at the right temperature. Each patient needs and deserves to get a delicious meal every time.
Q: When hiring new associates, what qualities are you seeking?
Laura: We’re hiring people that have heart. We know this is difficult work. These associates will be working all day with people that are sick and need help and their meals are a focal part of their day. Sometimes, just a plate of warm, tasty French fries will make their day, which by the way, is exactly what my teenage daughter asked for after surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in December!
But it’s more than just the food. People doing this job need to do more than just not drop their food trays. They need to care about how the patient is feeling and understand that we can help them. For example, remembering each patient’s name, greeting them with a smile and taking even a few seconds to speak with them shows passion for the job. That’s what we want to foster.
Q: During the past year, what steps have you taken to learn the ins and outs of Patient Services?
Laura: I’ve worked the tray line to understand the job. Food comes from the kitchen onto a tray line before it’s placed on carts and delivered to patients. I needed to learn about our people and find out everything about the job. So, working the tray line helped me get to know our people and understand any issues they may have in doing their jobs right.
And I still do it. I carry ten hairnets in my purse and now own four pairs of no-slip shoes, just in case I need to go into a work area. I never thought I’d own so many hair nets and no-slip shoes, but I do!
Q: This isn’t easy work. How is Morrison Healthcare attracting good workers for these jobs?
Laura: That’s a great question, especially in a tight labor market. Our job is to show them they can start here and have a career path with Morrison. If they are right out of high school and don’t have a degree, why would they want to work for Morrison? If we can show them a clear path to advance through the company, and give them an education to achieve that, we can become an employer of choice.
Q: How can you help these new associates understand that is possible?
Laura: I tell them my story. I started in a technical role as a front-line associate 19 years ago. Over the years, I’ve made the transition to other positions in the company before joining Patient Services. I understood the company was helping me develop my skills for the future. If we can show them, their first job could easily be the jumping-off point for a career, we can attract and keep excellent people.