Chuck Lauer: Not Just Another Day

I flew into Boston last week, just as the city had begun to dig out from yet another snowstorm. I have flown to a number of cities lately, and it always seems to be snowing. Everybody in the Northeast, Midwest and Great Plains is ready for this winter to end. Baseball, beaches and barbeques beckon.  

I was looking forward to dinner that night with Ken Hanover, who recently stepped down as CEO of Northeast Health System after merging it with the Lahey Clinic. Ken is everything you would want in a CEO. He's got a positive attitude, cares about the patients, has a wonderful sense of humor, is loyal to colleagues and friends and is devoted to his family. On top of all these things he has great intellect and a thorough understanding of the healthcare industry.

Ken picked me up in front of my hotel right on time and told me he was taking me to the best Italian joint in town, so off we went to Little Italy. On the way we chatted about our families. Ken told me about his 90-year-old father Alfred, who "is still going strong and wants to live alone in his apartment." He had been trying to persuade his dad to move in with him and his wife Sylvia in a home they had built in the seaside town of Cape May, N.J. Ken said he felt he had finally convinced his independent-minded father that living with them would be a smart thing to do.

It was all quite pleasant, time spent with an old friend, dining out. Just another day. We arrived at the restaurant and had just been seated when Ken's mobile rang. He missed answering it the first time but the second time got the call. He was told his father was in cardiac arrest and was being rushed to a hospital, but the medics were having a tough time getting him back.

Ken seemed calm throughout the whole episode and I suggested I get a cab to take back to the hotel but he insisted he drive me back. "It's right on my way," he said. I had dinner at the hotel and then went to bed because I had a busy day the next day giving two lectures on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to a distinguished group of healthcare executives from around the country. It was late in the afternoon before I was able to reach Ken. And that's when he told me his dad had passed away the night before. I was shocked and felt sorry for Ken's loss and told him I sent him and his family my love and prayers. Then it was time for the usual dash for the airport and the flight home. As I sat on the plane I thought about Ken, his father and how I felt when my father died years ago from lung cancer.

I still think about my father all the time, about what a great person he was. From the way Ken Hanover talked to me about his father I know that wonderful memories will keep coming back to him about his dad. In the course of the conversation Ken and I had in the car, he told me Alfred had outlived most of his friends and that seemed to be the thing that bothered him the most. He had lost the people he could relate to and reminisce with about playing sports together, sharing vacations with, seeing kids grow up and bragging about their accomplishments. I thought about how proud he must have been about Ken, who had done well, had great courage and spent his life helping others. Alfred Hanover had seen it all at 90: the Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam, the Civil Rights marches and presidents from Hoover to Obama. So much history, change and turmoil, and now nobody really to share it with.

The passage of time can be both cruel and impartial. As you get older, it literally rushes by and then you get word that so and so died and then another friend passes on and you are traumatized by how fast it goes and how many friends you lose and then you are alone to ponder your own mortality.

I am truly sorry, Ken, about the passing of your father. What a wonderful person he must have been. From the stories you told me he lived his life to the fullest, and he loved his family, his friends and this great nation of ours. Your dad will stay with you forever and sometime in the future you will be together again. God bless you, my dear friend!

More From Chuck Lauer:

Chuck Lauer: Trust
Chuck Lauer: What Makes a Great Mentor: 10 Traits of True Leadership
Chuck Lauer: An IT Boondoggle?

Copyright © 2023 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars