The Importance of Caring – My Journey into Health Care: Mike Knowles

By Ashley Strehle Hartman, freelance writer
for Columbus Community Hospital  – Columbus, Nebraska
Published on the Columbus Community Hospital website, August 2019

Mike Knowles’ background was in business administration. Over the course of his career, he spent almost 40 years working as a human resources professional. He specialized in employee relations, industrial relations, industrial safety and employment investigations.

But after retirement, he was looking for something different and that’s what led him to Columbus Community Hospital(CCH).

At the time, CCH was looking to hire drivers for its new VIP: Very Important Patient valet parking program that would offer valet parking services to CCH patients and their families. With the new service, patients could avoid the long walk to the front door, trouble finding a parking space or walking in unfavorable weather by simply pulling up to the CCH entrance and handing their keys over to a valet driver.

When Knowles saw a job posting in his local paper looking for VIP valet drivers, he knew it would be a good fit for him.

“After retirement from human resources, I sought an opportunity at CCH as it appeared to be an ideal place to work on a part-time basis,” he said.

Knowles started working with CCH in September 2018 as the lead valet driver for VIP. He and the other members of the four-person valet team provide free valet parking services to CCH patients, their families and visitors at the hospital.

VIP allows people to pull up to the hospital entrance, hand their keys to a valet driver like Knowles and then head inside. A valet driver will then bring the car back up to the front entrance when they are ready to leave. The service is offered Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In his position as lead valet driver, Knowles schedules the work times of the valet drivers, keeps the valet team informed of any changes to procedure and solicits their ideas for enhancing the VIP service.

Along with the other valet drivers, Knowles also greets patients and visitors to the hospital and helps give them a warm welcome to CCH. The drivers also support the “cadre of volunteers who provide care and guidance to patients and visitors,” Knowles said.

While the drivers support the volunteers and the rest of the hospital staff, Knowles said he has been very supported by CCH in his role as lead valet driver.

“I have been provided everything I needed to support the valet team in order to accomplish our mission,”  he said.

For example, during the ten months that VIP has been offered at the CCH, Knowles said that the valet team has been given everything they need to grow their services.

This has led the hospital to expand the hours of VIP twice since the program started and allowed them to increase the scope of the drivers’ work.

Though Knowles’ work as valet lead is different than his background in human resources, he is happy in his position and glad to be working at CCH, which he said is a “regional leader in the provision of health care.”

For more information about Knowles and CCH’s VIP: Valet Parking Service, visit www.columbushosp.org.