Plastic surgery practice manager Joanne Margnelli couldn’t believe her ears when she heard her name called during the opening reception of the Association of Plastic Surgery Assistants (APSA) 40th Annual Educational Seminar in Chicago.

“I was flabbergasted,” she recalls of being named the APSA and the American Society of Plastic Surgery Administrators 2014 Member of the Year. Part of the reason she was oh-so-surprised was that her employer of 33 years, plastic surgeon John J. Borkowski, MD, of Personal Choice Surgical Center LLC in Middletown, Conn, completed the nomination form behind her back.

“I gave the form to him and reminded him about the deadline, but he never showed me the finished product or said a word about it,” she says. Margnelli assumed the paperwork got lost in the shuffle.

It didn’t.

The award, made possible in collaboration with CareCredit, recognizes a top professional who demonstrates innovative thinking, business acumen, and leadership qualities within the practice.

And these are things that Margnelli does in spades, Borkowski says. “She is so dedicated to the practice and the patients, and she has brought forth a lot of initiatives and is constantly looking for solutions to problems,” he says.

Margnelli started working with Dr Borkowski straight out of college, and she essentially runs the business end of the practice today. As such, she regularly takes educational courses and makes sure that the practice complies with the necessary safety codes to maintain its status as an accredited outpatient surgical center. She also advocates for patients and helps them better navigate the ever-changing insurance policies and procedures.

It’s All About the Patients

“She really goes to bat for our patients,” Borkowski says.

To that end, Margnelli is excited about the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10). “We are in the process of converting, and what is nice is that the codes are much more specific,” she says. “In the past, if a patient had skin cancer removed from both the left and the right cheek, an insurer could deny one of the cheeks, but the new codes allow us to specify where the tumors were,” she says. “It will be cumbersome in the beginning, but in the long run it will help.”

Her best advice to other practice managers is to keep to-do lists. “You can’t possibly remember all that you have to do, so write it down to stay on track,” she says. “I would recommend they join APSA. It is a great source for networking. Plus, the education opportunities through yearly conference/symposium are invaluable.”

She is dedicated to the practice, that’s for sure, but Margnelli also makes time for her family and hobbies. “I challenge myself to Sudoku, Candy Crush (like the rest of the world), and jigsaw puzzles.”

She also has a flower and vegetable garden. “I can my own vegetables, including pickles and tomatoes,” she says. And yes, she does often bring them into the office.

Simply put, “She is outstanding,” Borkowski adds.

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