Staff spotlight: Renee Luongo is a master organizer

The ob-gyn practice manager finds preparation is crucial

Renee Luongo

Renee Luongo is a practice manager in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. She’s also a master organizer. During a visit to her office, she had paperwork on her desk in three neat piles that she referred to as she multitasked.

Luongo manages the academic and clinical sides of three sections: gynecologic oncology, urogynecology, and Yale Family Planning. Together the three sections provide care for about 200 new patients a month. Luongo is also involved with affiliate hospitals, clinical trials and fellowship programs and oversees 30 staff members. One of the high points of her job is visiting Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, where she checks in on staff and patient flow. She is humbled by the patients who face their health problems with courage, reminding her how much the work she does is appreciated. “The patients are such strong, amazing women. They want to do everything they can to raise awareness and money so that someday there will be a cure for what they have,” she said.

Luongo meets with Betsy Baird, account assistant.

Typical day is a full one

Before joining Yale Medical Group, Luongo worked for a dermatologist and a plastic surgeon, and then took a two-year break after her two children were born. When she was ready to go back to work, she found an account assistant position in the Yale Physicians’ Building. Thomas Rutherford, MD, chief of gynecologic surgery, met her there, noticed her managerial skills and promoted her.

One of Luongo’s secrets is preparation. “I start the night before thinking about certain things I need to do in the morning,” she said. A typical day could include: a review of profit-and-loss statements, site visit preparation, planning the annual fundraising gala, and a dinnertime trip to Greenwich Hospital with Dr. Rutherford.

Renee Luongo credits a great staff for helping her keep her three sections organized. They include (seated, l-r) Carolyn Stapleton, Luongo, Stephanie Mention; and (standing) Deanna Martin, Betsy Baird, Millie Jiminez, Jessica Santore, Cristina Durrell, Danielle Raccio and Rosa Gonce.

Some tasks are like moving targets

Working in three sections, Luongo finds that coordinating schedules of faculty and staff on a six-month calendar can be one of her most complicated responsibilities. “Most things are on my radar screen at all times,” she said. But doctors in the department travel as far as China and Jamaica for surgeries and lectures, and work in several locations when they’re back in Connecticut. Once Dr. Rutherford had the flu on a day when he had surgeries scheduled at an affiliate hospital. “So at 4 in the morning he called me, and we rescheduled all of the patients,” Loungo said.

Account assistant Betsy Baird remembers moving part of the practice from the Yale Physician’s Building to Smilow. “We moved everything, the exam rooms, all the instruments, the phones had to be in order. Renee orchestrated everything. There was so much involved, but we did it in a weekend and opened on Monday without a hitch,” she said.

Twice a year, faculty, staff and their families get together outside of the office—one year the summer picnic was at Luongo’s house in Wallingford. She spends her free time with her two grandchildren, but often puts long hours into her job. “Things change every day. We’re so busy I don’t think we ever stop learning,” she said. “Dr. Rutherford gives me so much responsibility. He trusts my decisions.”

But it’s the dedication of the physicians and staff that make three sections work, said Luongo. “I wouldn’t be in the position I am without a great team. I hire people who will be independent, so that I can do my job. Everybody here has a piece of this big picture.”