In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. This is the story of Laurent Gueris.
This profile was published in the December, 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
"When it comes to being courteous in a hospital by staff, there's no excuse. This is not a courthouse."
Laurent Gueris, as manager of environmental services, oversees cleaning and sanitation at the 283-staffed-bed Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in San Pedro, Calif. But a few years ago, Gueris noticed his staff walking in and out of patient rooms, quietly moving throughout the hospital while not making eye contact with the patients, barely looking at them. No "hello." No "how-are-you?"
Gueris wasn't happy about it. "When it comes to being courteous in a hospital by staff, there's no excuse. This is not a courthouse," he says.
Gueris tapped into that invisible presence, that silence, and wondered about its impact on patient satisfaction, one the measurements used by the government for hospital payments. Over time, he has worked with his 45-member staff to improve their interactions with patients, which he says had a surprising, yet profound impact on patient satisfaction.
Using role-playing, he "play-acted" staffers' interactions with patients and even videotaped their sessions. Those exercises brought out hospital employees' innate compassion and gave them confidence to open up to patients, Gueris says. "They could see themselves in a more powerful way," he says. "It's very powerful when you look in your own mirror," he says.