LaxtonWhy is this man smiling? Because he believes he has the best job in the world. That’s Ray Laxton on the steps of the Duke Chapel in Durham, N.C. He runs the clinical engineering programs at world-renowned Duke University Health System as an on-site manager for ServiceMaster. Always seeking new experiences, Laxton has traveled across North America, the Middle East and Russia, bringing technology management innovations to Duke, the place he now calls home.

Are all the techs ServiceMaster employees?
No, we have a blend.

How’s that work for you?
It works fine. My philosophy is that management is the same, regardless of who employs the people. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hospital policy that you follow or ServiceMaster policies, the fundamental management approach shouldn’t change. So for us, it doesn’t make a big difference if they’re on hospital or on ServiceMaster payroll.

You’ve been at Duke since 1994 and there’s been a couple of contract renewals, so they must like you.
So far! (laughs)

That’s a good thing. If you’re a contract person and the contract is renewed, you know they see some value. That is, I think, a reaffirmation that’s positive. It’s a little stressful, but it is positive whenever it’s renewed.

It’s one of the challenges that I like about contract business. You’ve got to show the value, because they can always go in-house — that’s always a very realistic option — or go with a competitor.

Yet, you’ve never had any problem hobnobbing with people who work for manufacturers, in-house and other ISOs in North Carolina.
No, not at all. In fact, one of the things I like about the North Carolina Biomedical Association is we’ve got a good blend of all of those. Even though there are companies that are technically considered competitors, I don’t view them that way. We’ve shared information with Premier folks, they’ve shared it with us, and GE. If someone has a need, you’re going to try and help them.

Obviously you’ve got some confidential stuff, but I’ve always taken a very open approach. I put as much information as I felt comfortable with on our Web site: how we’re set up, what we do, why we do the things we do. I’d like to see more people do that. I don’t think it’s a trade secret.

You wrote those pages yourself?
Yeah. (chuckles) I wrote it and kind of support it. It’s something I enjoy doing. I’m teaching a course at the Durham Arts Council on building a Web page.

You don’t have to be a Web page designer to do that?
No. If you can handle macros in spreadsheets, you can do a Web page. It’s probably easier. You learn by looking at the source.

Download a few of them …
Yeah. Play with it!

Like a transistor cookbook.
That’s right!

Speaking of sharing information, you were asked by the U.S. Information Agency to speak in Jordon about Y2k?
They had seen our Web page, believe it or not.

And you were part of a hospital team that helped the local Durham city government wrestle with Y2k.
Most communities provide non-profit hospitals with a tax-free status, so they’re always looking for value. What are you providing them? That was another way that we could provide some value to the city, and that was great.

Ray Laxton
LaxtonOccupation:
Director of Clinical Engineering, Duke University Health System/ServiceMaster, since 1994

Prior experience:
• 1987-1994 – various clinical engineering positions with ServiceMaster, including Director of CEM Development
• 1980-1987 – U.S.A.F. BMET, Scott AFB, Ill., and Pope AFB, N.C.
• 1976-1980 – U.S.A.F. Integrated Components Avionics Specialists for F-15, Bitburg AB, Germany

Education:
• 1980 – U.S.A.F. Biomedical Equipment Technology program;
• 1990 – B.Sc., Industrial Technology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Ill.
• Currently pursuing MBA/MHA, Pfeiffer University, Charlotte, N.C.

Professional Memberships:
No. Carolina Biomedical Assoc. (NCBA), ASHE, AAMI, American College of Healthcare Executives and the Clinical Faculty of JCAHO

Achievements:
Past President, NCBA; ServiceMaster Award of Excellence

Recent Projects:
• Served as consultant to U.S. Information Agency in Amman, Jordan (1999);
• Provided equipment planning and installation to Nadezhda Clinic in Togliatti, Russia (1997, 1999)

Personal:
• Age: 42
• Family: wife Lezlie, children Andrea (22), Kathrine (16)
• Residence: Durham, N.C.
• Hobbies: Photography, golf, college sports

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