Scholarship Winner Gregory Gardner Sees Professional Development as Key to Success
Gregory Gardner spent the entire weekend before Thanksgiving in Las Vegas, but he wasn’t there to take in the city’s entertainment. Instead, the Director of Environmental Services (EVS) at Duke University Hospital North attended a boot camp consisting of 16 individual classes on topics ranging from preventing and cleaning biohazardous spills to the latest methods in disinfecting patient rooms. When it was all over, he became a Certified Environmental Services Executive (CESE).
Gardner attended the boot camp after winning this year’s International Executive Housekeepers Association’s (IEHA) annual Spartan Chemical Scholarship. The $1,500 scholarship is awarded to managers in environmental services looking not only to advance their own careers through ongoing education but also that of others. Gardner was honored to win the scholarship and used it as one more way to increase his knowledge and develop his career.
“It’s not uncommon for people to underestimate the amount of education that can be gained in housekeeping and environmental services,” he says.
“For example, if I’m a subject matter expert on the chemical composition of cleaning products, I know which ones to use on certain spills and which ones are harmful. A nurse can talk about different procedures and everyone respects their expertise, so why can’t we take the same approach?” he asks.
In his application letter for the scholarship, Gardner emphasized the importance of education and training.
“I have always been a big believer that knowledge is power. Knowing more about what you do and how it affects other people is a necessary power,” he says. “It’s also my responsibility as a leader to share what I have learned to help influence the development of talent within our organization. It makes us more confident in our work and allows us to be better prepared for whatever may come our way.”
Learning Never Stops
A nine-year EVS veteran at Crothall, Gardner oversees more than 250 associates at the massive 957-bed hospital near the Duke University campus. Despite his knowledge and experience, the boot camp provided him with new information that he can bring back to the worksite.
For example, a speaker on building maintenance, providing advice about managing the storage and placement of cleaning items used every day. Gardner took note and made changes after returning to the hospital that will increase his team’s response time to calls for assistance while also improving the shelf life of certain items.
To improve safety and cut costs, he also changed the way cleaning carts are set up, and substituted a new chemical used to clean toilets in patient rooms to eliminate the possibility of contamination.
Often working 10-12-hour days, Gardner focuses on how to deliver the best service to hospitals by running a well-organized team. After becoming the director in June, he overhauled his team’s daily approach to their work, providing more structure to avoid delays in service.
To begin each workday, the EVS team meets in their offices to check out mops and rags, get their pagers and other equipment. Gardner cut out a lot of unproductive time by making sure managers arrive early and have all equipment and assignments ready at the assigned time.
“Preparation is the key to success,” Gardner says. “How managers approach their day, communicate to their teams, check their schedules before we get ready to work – all of those things will have an impact on the quality of our work, and that will come through to our clients.”
Benefits of CESE
Gardner also stated that his new certification gives him additional credibility with hospital personnel, demonstrating the importance he places on gaining more knowledge about his field.
“It shows them I’m a subject matter expert and that I can give them a level of knowledge that they may not get from others.” And the certification fits with his overall approach to his work. Gardner hopes to continue his formal training by education by becoming a certified Masters of Environmental Services Executive in the near future.
“I’m passionate about my career, developing future leaders and forging new relationships based on positive credible knowledge. Education is our friend that will help us better train associates and serve our customers.”
One of Crothall’s five company values is Professional Development, and Gardner could be the poster boy.
Last year, Compass One Healthcare associates completed more than 3.4 million hours of training and over 93% of all associates participated in some form of training.
“The food, clinical and support services associates at Compass One Healthcare are professionals and experts in their respective disciplines,” says Catherine Cape, director of Learning and Development for Compass One Healthcare. “Every day, patients, their families and hospital staff benefit from the work of Compass One Healthcare associates who are experts in safety, customer service and operational excellence.
Education and training are critical to helping associates achieve their professional goals. In the fiscal year ending September 2019, Compass One Healthcare invested heavily in leadership development, training programs and resources. Resources include development recommendations found in our interactive career wheel, professional certification study groups and classes that earn continuing education hours.