I was sipping my coffee early one morning, and our CEO (Leslie Graham) contacted me to let me know I had been selected as PCC's Employee of the Year. I couldn't believe it. I had no idea I was even being considered for the award. The last few years have come with both professional and personal challenges for many of us. There have definitely been some trying days for myself and my family, so having my work recognized during such a chaotic time feels amazing!
How long have you been at PCC?
I will be with PCC for ten years in December. I love my job. I feel beyond lucky to work with a core group of people who advocate and support me. I don't know if I'd be as successful in another organization. PCC is constantly offering opportunities to develop staff professionally, asking us what we need, and is a truly family-friendly workplace. That's meant the world to me. It's allowed me to raise my children and be there for them whenever they were sick or needed me, including when we lost their father to cancer at the beginning of COVID.
What led you to PCC in the first place?
When I heard about a job opening at PCC from a friend, I applied and didn't hear back. Then I applied again and didn't hear anything. I apparently wasn't making it through the recruiter screening because I didn't have any healthcare experience. So, I tracked down the hiring manager at PCC and made sure he received my resume directly. I really wanted the job and knew my experience was valuable, even if it wasn't in the healthcare field. Once the hiring manager saw my resume, he asked the recruiter to interview me, and I eventually got the job! That's why I always tell people to keep trying. Don't give up until you've done everything you can to get where you want to be.
Where were you before?
I received my degree in healthcare administration during a recession when there weren't a lot of jobs available, and my searches were not going anywhere with only a degree and no experience in the field. I finally took a position with my family's law practice. Managing a multi-million-dollar law firm with six partners ended up being relevant experience because it prepared me to negotiate contracts and be an excellent advocate for clients, as well as honed my eye for detail.
Tell me about your work.
I work primarily to manage the billing and payments in support of PCC's contracts for specialty care, Cancer Crusade, and other State Cancer grants. One of my projects was working on a team implementing TriZetto, which offers electronic billing capabilities. Before COVID, everything was billed on paper. Although I had suggested going to an electronic claims processing system before, there was never money to do that – something those of us working in the safety net are all too familiar. But COVID changed everything. Suddenly, people were working from home, and the need to process invoices electronically became urgent. We finally got the funding and thumbs up. I was able to get the TriZetto system implemented so that PCC can pay doctors' offices in a timely manner, and doctors can invoice PCC from wherever they are, eliminating the need to rely on mail and paper claims.
What do you find most rewarding at PCC?
The opportunity to work with a diverse immigrant population is what I find most rewarding about my work at PCC, especially in this day and age when immigration is used as a tool for division. I was raised by immigrant grandparents from Italy and grew up in Chevy Chase. My great-grandmother never learned English well, and as a child, adults in the community could be absolutely cruel. Forty years later, and unfortunately, some of the same sentiments and misinformation prevail. Giving back is rewarding, especially knowing programs like this didn't exist for families like mine in the not-so-distant past. Being a part of progression feels good!
It is also rewarding to know that we provide quality healthcare to people who have no other way to access it. Those of us with insurance sometimes have trouble scheduling appointments or finding care. The American healthcare system is not easily navigated. Can you imagine what it must be like to be without health insurance and try to get good care with little income? Especially with English often as a second language? PCC provides critical services to people who need them across multiple areas circumventing barriers that leave so many without care each year.
What is most challenging about your work?
NOTHING moves quickly in the safety net, which can be frustrating. Finding ways to get things done with budgets that never seem big enough is always a challenge, as is not always having the staffing to make goals readily obtainable. COVID exacerbated all of this. Like many people, I woke up one morning, ushered my kids off to school, and rushed into work, not knowing it was my last day working in the office. The projects and plans I was working towards at work, my kids' sports, and our life as we knew it shut down. Many of our partner organizations temporarily closed, most lost staff, surgeries and appointments were being canceled, patients were not showing up for routine appointments, the grocery stores were empty, and I suddenly became a teacher to two high schoolers. Those first few months, I felt more like a participant in the Hunger Games than myself. I think the silver lining is all the resilience and grace I have learned. I am less hard on myself and others, I am driven to be more creative despite staffing and budget deficits, and while I haven't stopped thinking big, I have managed my expectations and learned to focus my energy in spaces it can flourish.
What are your interests? What drives you?
Outside of my love for PCC, which is pretty huge, my true passion is cooking and growing my own food! It is my hope that one day when I'm retired, I will be able to start my own business and buy a mobile pop-up kitchen that I can take into underserved communities in our area. I want to be able to teach people to grow their own food and cook healthy meals. The possibilities of what I can do and who I can serve with a business like this excite me. Redefining healthy eating and making cooking accessible are huge passions.
My love of gardening is also very satisfying, and I regularly hike on weekends and kayak, paddleboard, fish, and jet ski at my family's bay house. However, my drive comes from being a Mom. My children have made me an infinitely better person and cultivated patience, empathy, and my desire to achieve. I enjoy watching them grow into adults, begin their kitchen endeavors, and develop their own passions. Of all the things I am thankful for, the privilege of being called Mom by them is number one!