Norma Mendilian, CFO, Boston MedFlight
What is Boston MedFlight and what are your responsibilities as CFO?
Boston MedFlight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that for the past 35 years has provided critical care transport to approximately 4,800 patients annually, with a fleet of ambulances, helicopters and even a plane ̶ all with ICU capabilities including staff and equipment. Although we’re often seen when our helicopter is on the side of the road, a large percentage of our work involves transporting very sick patients to Boston hospitals, more than half of them in our ground vehicles, for specialty care. Importantly, as a nonprofit, we provide more than $4 million annually in free and unreimbursed care to patients with little or no medical insurance. As CFO, I play a key role in strategy, risk management and performance management. I work closely with the operations team, my CEO and Board of Trustees to increase value and ensure higher levels of business performance, both financially and operationally. I lead not only the financials of Boston MedFlight, but also the teams responsible for patient financial services, IT and facilities.
How has the pandemic changed the way you work today, and what changes do you think you will continue to utilize?
Overnight we went from transporting our usual patients based on pre-determined reimbursement, to almost exclusively COVID patients, some with insurance and many without. Therefore we had the added expense of caring for the area’s sickest COVID patients, in tandem with decreased revenue. As CFO I knew I had to take immediate action, therefore I researched, applied for and received funding from three different federal programs. We were able to retain all our employees and continue with no disruption in service. We also shifted our traditional office design and our administrative staff to a remote environment, while adjusting both processes and technology needs to accommodate continued day-to-day operations. I believe that this shift to a remote model will allow us to potentially redirect resources previously dedicated to operating our facilities into supporting and growing our operations and programs. Throughout this time I have been committed to strong communications to ensure collaboration among and between operations, administration and others. It is so important for staff to feel secure and know that Boston MedFlight is a sound organization.
What drew you to the field of Finance and what was your first role?
I moved to the U.S. from Lebanon when I was 13 years old to escape from the war, and have always had an interest in the medical field. However, I needed a career that I could enter quickly and I knew finance could open doors in any industry. I worked at a CPA firm conducting audits for niche healthcare, behavioral and social service agencies.
What are the biggest challenges for finance professionals today and how do you plan to tackle those?
The biggest challenge today as the CFO of a nonprofit is to better allocate resources to meet short and long term strategic business development, as well as balancing today’s costs while pursuing long term growth opportunities. I take a more proactive approach in educating our third party payors and donors on our nonprofit mission to increase fundraising dollars and maximize reimbursements to support operations. We need to continually invest in education and training, safety, new equipment and technologies to ensure the highest level of critical care and the highest degree of safety for our patients and our staff.
Bonus question: What is the last book you read or series you binged?
I have not had a minute to read since March. Instead I have been unwinding by watching British historical fiction, The Last Kingdom.