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Helping Patients Has Not Only Been My Career, It’s Been My Passion

By Laurie Schutter, Vice President of Operations, Morrison Healthcare

Following a successful 13-year career with Morrison Healthcare, Laurie Schutter will retire on May 13. Laurie has been a leader in multiple Chicago and Illinois health systems, including Children’s Memorial Lincoln Park, Lurie Children’s Downtown, Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, and Lake Forest Hospital. 

After more than 30 years in healthcare foodservice, including 13 years with Morrison, I’ve always received the most satisfaction from working with patients. We can help them in so many ways, from providing healthy, nutritious food to simply fulfilling their unique requests and listening to them. Here’s a great example.

Years ago, I had a seriously ill patient at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago who was craving decaffeinated Diet Mountain Dew. We didn’t carry this brand of soda and it wasn’t even sold in Illinois. So, I jumped in the car, drove two hours over the state line into Wisconsin, drove back to the hospital, and brought back a carton of Mountain Dew.

I’ll never forget the look on the mother’s face when I walked into the patient’s room and delivered the soda. She and her child were ecstatic. And seeing the joy, it brought them and how it relieved the stress caused by their hospital stay helps give people hope.

That’s what has made this job, and this career, unique. If there is anything a patient would like, we help them as much as possible. Even when things go wrong, being there to show how much we want to rectify the situation and how much we care has been critical. No matter what job I’ve had, serving patients is really the job.

How I Got Started

As Vice President of Operations, I’ve been fortunate to oversee operations at eight hospitals that are part of the Northwestern Medicine Health System and as Regional Director of Operations for 13 hospitals in the Chicagoland area.

I’ve worked for most of my life in Chicagoland. After receiving my degree from the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana, my first job was at Children’s Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago.

I did everything there, from working in the dish room serving in the cafeteria to being the office manager. I worked for 20 years as the Director of Food and Nutrition Services and, along the way, earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

But In 2009, I wanted to make a change. I was fortunate to find that Morrison needed an associate director, so I joined the team and became a director at Lake Forest Hospital three years later.

Over the next few years, it was here I was proud to help others nurture their fledgling careers. As a director, then as an RDO, Lake Forest became somewhat of a training ground for future managers. I was fortunate enough to help mentor and train several people, then watch them flourish and grow.

I recall hiring a young man right out of college who had no healthcare experience. He started out working in our cafes, and as he was learning the job and about healthcare, we would often sit down and talk about his passion and future.

Eventually, he found it. He found that working with patients was his real calling. Today, he’s a traveling patient service manager for Touchpoint. By helping him learn about healthcare to make patient rounds, we did enough to bring it out and help him find his niche.

How Morrison Made It Easy

When I joined Morrison, I came from a non-contracted food services department that didn’t have the resources to help deliver top-quality food service. If I needed a form or had to establish a process, I was pretty much on my own.

Of course, Morrison is different. It’s one of the features that differentiates our service. It’s such an advantage to work at a company that provides all the support we need.

On top of that, the knowledge and team of our people set us apart. It’s been an enormous benefit to know I can call anyone at any time and get a question answered, and someone will help me. Knowing I could reach out to another RDO, director, or someone in finance or human resources and count on their help has contributed enormously to my career.

My retirement plans are still a work in progress. I played on the golf team back in college, so I will be getting reacquainted with the game. Sleeping until 7 a.m. will be an adjustment. But I leave hoping I’ve made a significant contribution to the organization and, most importantly, to the patients we serve.

I will miss Morrison, its people, and those I have been fortunate to work with.

I have always loved my job and will take that love of the job, the people, and the ideals of Morrison and Compass Group with me as I move to the next chapter. It’s been my pleasure.

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