Joining two major Catholic hospital systems––Renton, Wash.-based Providence Health & Services and Irvine-based St. Joseph Health––isn’t an easy task. The combination, which was finalized last summer, formed the third largest nonprofit health system in the country.
The integration of the two systems into Providence St. Joseph Health remains a work in progress for Jo Ann Escasa-Haigh, St. Joseph executive vice president, chief integration officer and chief financial officer. She’s also interim chief financial officer of Providence St. Joseph.
The winner of the Orange County Business Journal CFO of the Year award for nonprofit organizations is prepared to tackle the task (see profiles of the other winners, pages 1, 7 and 8).
“To be chief financial officer for an organization like St. Joseph is a huge responsibility,” said Escasa-Haigh, who joined the system in 2007.
The CFO managed the $6 billion, 16-hospital company’s financial needs, including accounting, regulatory and management reporting, operational and capital budgeting and forecasting, supply chain operations and real estate. She previously served as vice president of finance at PacifiCare Health Systems, which is now United Healthcare Inc.
“The reason I am able to do what I do is because of my family.”
She said her husband, David–– the two were high school sweethearts, dating on and off––gave up his job as a satellite engineer at Boeing Co. to become a stay-at-home father taking care of their two daughters so she could take on the role.
Escasa-Haigh, who began her career in the healthcare audit and consulting group at accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP, stressed the importance of staying grounded.
“I had a lot of great mentors who were grounded in their work, in their family. It is absolutely [important to me] to have a family at home that grounds me,” she said, also expressing appreciation for her colleagues, who she referred to as her other family.
She “turns off” work mode on weekends, and can be found supporting her daughters at diving practices and competitions of the Mission Viejo Nadadores Diving Team. She also enjoys cooking and binge-watching TV shows, including “Designated Survivor,” “House of Cards” and “Sherlock.”
Escasa-Haigh earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University-Fullerton and a master’s in business administration from University of California-Irvine.
The integration of the two hospital systems likely will take two years, Escasa-Haigh said. She breaks the process into business operations and culture integration.
She nowadays spends a lot of time in the air traveling to Washington. She joked that for someone like her who enjoys to spend time with family and people in general, “My alone time is on the plane.”
The newly joined health system comprises 50 hospitals and over 800 clinics and 100,000 employees across Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
St. Joseph Hoag Health, which provides care in Southern California, is made up of seven hospitals: Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach and Irvine; Hoag Orthopedic Institute; Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach; St. Joseph Hospital in Orange; and St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton.
Escasa-Haigh said she sees good synergy in the consolidated entity, in addition to achieving economy of scale.
“The good thing is that we [Providence and St. Joseph] share the same vision, to serve the poor and vulnerable.”
Much hard work is ahead, but Escasa-Haigh said she’s excited. “There are not many times [in one’s lifetime] to create something new like Providence-St. Joseph It’s once in a lifetime.”