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Behavioral Healthcare Champion: Patti Greenough

July 25, 2017
by Tom Valentino, Senior Editor
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Patti Greenough

Whether it’s bringing a good business sense to the operations of EPIC Behavioral Healthcare, the not-for-profit for which she has served as CEO for 27 years, or taking on key roles with various community organizations, Patti Greenough has been strategic and ambitious in meeting the increasing behavioral health needs of St. Johns County, Fla.

Under Greenough’s guidance, EPIC has quintupled in size and expanded its provision of prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery support services, all while increasing its reserves and controlling its operating costs. A major reason for EPIC’s success, Greenough says, is that its strategic plan is a living document that is routinely referenced and refined, which helps EPIC stay disciplined in its operations.

“A lot of people put a strategic plan on the shelf when it’s done, then pull it out when it’s needed and review it once a year,” she says. “Not us. It’s something that we look at every month from a management perspective and every quarter with our board of directors.

“When staff requests something—‘we need a new clinician’ or ‘we’re really busy’—I ask: ‘Where’s the data to support that decision?’ ”

Greenough notes two points of particular emphasis at EPIC: a welcoming environment (for both clients and staff); and accessibility. EPIC employees receive ongoing customer service training, starting with their orientation and then on an annual basis. EPIC also provides evening groups, open access hours and crisis appointment slots.

“People should be able to access us when they need us,” Greenough says. “The hardest thing that person did today was call us or walk in our doors. We have to respond accordingly. We want people to feel like this is the right place where they can come get care.”

Community initiatives

In addition to leading EPIC, Greenough serves as chair of the Florida Behavioral Health Association (FBHA), is past-president of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (FADAA), a founding member and current chair of the St. Johns County Behavioral Health Consortium, and is a member of several additional behavioral health-related community organizations.

“I believe that involvement in one’s community is essential in any way, shape or form,” Greenough says. “I have gotten involved because everybody benefits. It doesn’t matter if it’s EPIC’s bottom line that benefits or our sister/brother agencies. What matters is that the community benefits. We come together, make ourselves stronger and help residents in their time of need.”

FADAA is a not-for-profit membership organization that represents more than 100 Florida addiction treatment and prevention agencies, managing entities, coalitions and others. During Greenough’s tenure as president, for-profit organizations began to take interest in the work FADAA was doing, she says.

“They wanted to get down into certain issues, the problems Florida is having with sober living and unethical marketing practices,” Greenough says.

This led to the formation of the FBHA as a business league. Greenough, who currently serves as FBHA’s chair, is credited with overseeing the development of its business plan, as well as the creation of its various divisions and legal structure. The business division, for example, has been responsible for digging in unethical marketing practices within the state and advancing legislation to address patient brokering in sober living facilities.

“We’re always looking at the next thing we can help folks with,” she says.

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