At Northwell Health, we have the perfect career for everyone. Just ask Susan Marelli, executive program director in System Administration.
Starting her career more than 20 years ago, Susan had never imagined herself pursuing a healthcare career. That is until her mother, who was receiving treatment at the time, had noted what a nice place it seemed to work as they sat in North Shore University together. At the time, Susan believed healthcare careers were limited to just nurses and doctors and never thought her background in administration would create opportunities for her. However, with her mother’s encouragement Susan applied and it was that exact skillset that made her a perfect fit for her first role of executive associate to Michael Dowling, Northwell’s President and CEO.
Working as an executive associate, Susan began to find herself becoming an unofficial patient ambassador. She would receive phone calls from trustees, executives from other businesses, team members, and patients looking for assistance. They would call her not knowing who else to reach out to and Susan would listen to their challenges. With no guidebook for this role, she took it upon herself to make calls and figure out the best person in the system might be able to help them.
“Whenever I wasn’t busy with my responsibilities, I was on the phone helping people. Mr. Dowling would hear this from inside his office and one day he asked me, ‘would you like to do this for me full time?’” says Susan. “There’s such an emphasis in our organization to put patients first, and Mr. Dowling wanted me to have the opportunity to work exclusively on helping those who needed it.”
Now as executive program director, Susan uses Northwell’s network of team members to help support her patient advocacy work. In addition to speaking with patients and their family members on the phone, Susan visits them at the hospitals and helps them feel connected to the health system. She loves being able to meet new people on these visits, and that includes not just our patients but her colleagues as well.
“The only way I’m able to do my job is because of the wonderful teams that are in every office and every hospital,” says Susan. “Because of them, I’ve never had to tell someone ‘I’m sorry, I can’t help you.’ They are always willing to go the extra mile and together we are able to find a solution.”
Along with the assistance of clinical teams, Susan has worked closely with the patient and family relations teams across our system to make a difference in so many lives. It’s an emotionally rewarding role, and she cherishes the letters and thank you cards she’s received from patients and families. “It’s always so unexpected because the doctors, nurses, and everyone else in our facilities are the ones who deserve that. Without them no care is being delivered. I’m just the one making the connections.”
But it’s that connection to patients, families, and team members alike that has helped Susan’s work as a patient ambassador truly shine. Every day she helps to reinvent the patient experience, and it’s her compassion that brought her recognition with an award in patient excellence from the health system.
Discover a career well cared for at Northwell Health. Apply today!