New Jersey Surgery Center Coalition: How Two Women Formed a Professional Network, and How You Can Too

Written by Sabrina Rodak | June 20, 2011 | Print  |

Running an ambulatory surgery center is a constant learning process because of changing technology, practices and legislation. One way to keep up-to-date with these changes is to attend professional association meetings. Marcy Sasso, administrator at Raritan Valley Surgery Center in Somerset, N.J., and Dorcie Wawrzynski, administrator/director of nursing at May Street Surgi Center in Edison, N.J., founded their own organization, the Surgery Center Coalition, in 2006. What began as a group of about 15 people meeting in a waiting room has now grown to a dedicated group of more than 80 members who meet quarterly. Ms. Sasso shares the keys to SCC's success and why she thinks other states should adopt a similar model.

What differentiates SCC from other professional organizations is the "caliber of the people that attend," Ms. Sasso says. Members include nurses, physicians, infection control experts, attorneys, billing and coding people, among others. She describes group members as committed, highly motivated and eager to learn. The average person drives forty minutes to attend one of the four meetings per year, according to Ms. Sasso. "And this is after a full day of work," she adds. There is no feeling of competition between members because they are all dedicated to helping each other. Ms. Sasso says if a member emails the group a question, someone responds typically within an hour.

The primary focus of the group is sharing information and learning from each other. The group also provides networking opportunities. Many members have found jobs through each other, Ms. Sasso says. In addition to learning how to improve their ASCs and networking, members benefit by feeling validated. As reimbursements decline and standards for delivery of care change, people feel like they're "in it together," according to Ms. Sasso. They are all dealing with the same challenges; through the SCC network, members get practical and emotional support.

Another aspect of SCC that sets it apart from other organizations is its structure. Attendance is not required and there is no limit to the number of people who can come from each center. Meetings are run informally; no one takes notes or pays dues. There are no bylaws or an explicit governance system: Ms. Sasso and Ms. Wawrzynski refer to themselves only as co-chairs. Minimal time and effort are required to run the meetings, Ms. Sasso says. "It costs us nothing — maybe eight hours per month, tops." Ms. Sasso and Ms. Wawrzynski can organize these meetings because of the support they receive from the New Jersey Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, companies willing to host meetings, speakers donating their time to share their expertise and an attorney's office which provides the meeting space for free. Ms. Sasso says SCC does not compete with NJAASC because of their different structures and focus. In fact, SCC sends a representative to NJAASC meetings. Whereas the state organization focuses on political and financial issues, SCC talks more about clinical issues.

Because of the overwhelming support the group has had over the years, the relative ease of organizing meetings and the educational benefits, Ms. Sasso is encouraging all states to create these informal groups. She suggests finding a firm or vendor who might sponsor or host meetings. "I know people can do this everywhere," she says.

Related Articles on ASC Associations:
New Jersey Surgery Center Association Opposes Amended ASC Licensing Bill

ASC Association Submits Comments on Proposed ACO Rule

ASC Association's William Prentice: 3 Provisions of the Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality and Access Act

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2020. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.

To receive the latest hospital and health system business and legal news and analysis from Becker's Hospital Review, sign-up for the free Becker's Hospital Review E-weekly by clicking here.