Photo by Cathy Pinsky
Even though she’s not a therapist, Suzie Finneran plays a vital role in the mental health of county residents. At 29, she’s charged with coordinating the psychological treatment of more than 6,000 patients annually at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Harrison.
After graduating from Villanova in 2004, Finneran started at St. Vincent’s as a care manager, communicating the clinical justification for patients’ care to insurers. Since then, she’s been promoted to manager of the evaluations and referral center for St. Vincent’s, overseeing a staff of 20. “We’re the front door to the hospital,” Finneran says, as she directs her team, which is charged with evaluating new patients and referring them to the appropriate mental healthcare provider and treatment.
During her tenure, Finneran has completely overhauled the hospital’s customer service program for its patients, increasing patient referrals in the process. Fed up with long wait times for patients and nonsensical staffing hours, she devised and executed a two-year, comprehensive, time-scheduling study, tracking patients from when they entered the facility to when they left. According to her boss, Fran Tyrrell, “Suzie increased our appointment base and developed a staggered staffing model.” Her efforts have resulted in a huge jump in office efficiency: more appointment times, shorter waits to meet with clinicians, and a new staffing schedule that aligns shifts with the peaks and troughs of patient visits.
She didn’t stop there. “I’ve cultivated relationships in the community,” she says, “making sure that we have point people in every hospital, school, and college so that they know we’re the first people they can come to for treatment.” According to Tyrrell, referrals have increased a whopping 30 percent under Finneran’s watch. Thanks to Finneran, Tyrrell says, “We are now so much more accessible to the community. Professionals in schools and hospitals know they can access us twenty-four seven.”
And, due in part to Finneran’s efforts, Tyrrell says, “we now have the largest market share for mental health treatment in the county.”