In the Know

Erik G. Wexler Talks 2018 Agenda

01.29.2018 St. Joseph Hoag Health

In Orange County, Providence St. Joseph Health has more of a local flavor—its local presence is best known as St. Joseph Hoag Health.

The local seven-hospital network is more fully integrated following the Renton, Wash.-based healthcare provider’s September announcement that it will create a single regional network comprised of 14 hospitals in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

“We are the second largest provider in the region after Kaiser,” said Erik G. Wexler, regional chief executive of Providence St. Joseph Health, Southern California.

“The integration gives us additional opportunity to [provide] high-value healthcare with extraordinary efficiency.”

The name of its Irvine headquarters is now Providence St. Joseph Health, which used to be St. Joseph Health.

Priority Set

Unpredictability in the healthcare industry, including uncertainties with the future of the federal Affordable Care Act and with payment reform, present a challenge to hospitals and health systems. Providence St. Joseph plans to stay ahead of the headwinds by expanding clinical efforts, which include accelerating research and innovation; creating a data repository for genomics; setting best practices by disease category; increasing ambulatory care sites; and strengthening individualized care with a focus on care close to home supported by digital technology. Targeted areas are musculoskeletal, neurosciences, digestive health, cancer, cardiovascular and women and children’s health.

“We are committed to come together to collaborate on how we can standardize care and improve outcomes,” Wexler said.

He gave Irvine-based Hoag Orthopedic Institute as an example. “We are going to take best practice from HOI and share that best practice throughout the Providence St. Joseph [network].”

The model, a joint venture between Hoag Hospital and doctor owners, achieved strong clinical outcomes as a result of doctors being vested as stakeholders. The institute was ranked in the 98th percentile for overall hospital rating, according to a report by Press Ganey, which provides healthcare organizations with insights on patient experience and performance improvements.

Hoag Orthopedic is made up of a 70-bed hospital and two ambulatory surgery centers with more than 300 doctors.

Wexler said he’s excited about his expanded role. “I no longer see through my lens Orange County, Los Angeles and the High Desert. I see through my lens Southern California and beyond.”

He joined Providence St. Joseph in 2016 as executive vice president and chief executive of Providence Health & Services’ Los Angeles region. He previously spent five years at Tenet Healthcare as chief executive of the health system’s northeast region.

Leaders in Place

The new structure also includes a 14-person executive team to oversee the region.

“There are no duplicate roles on that list. We asked the team to stretch themselves across Southern California, much like I have,” Wexler said. “The new leadership will fulfill our goals of providing outstanding clinical care, greater access and increased affordability to those we serve.”

The new team includes Hoag Hospital’s Andre Vovan, MD, a Business Journal Innovator of the Year in 2017, who will be chief clinical effectiveness officer; Lisa Weaver, chief integration and external relations officer.

Wexler is recruiting for a health network executive to take the roles of chief operating and financial officers. Lee Penrose, interim chief financial officer and chief operations officer for OC and the High Desert, has announced his intention to leave the organization in April.

Other roles filled cover strategy, quality, mission integration and human resources for the SoCal division and philanthropy, finance, and chief executive roles over specific portions within it.

“The key to the team composition is to create unity and create collaboration across all Southern California. We’ve taken an outstanding group of executives … the best and the brightest,” Wexler said. “We don’t expect any further add at this point.”


St. Joseph and Hoag came together in 2013 to form a regional affiliation, retaining their individual identities and faiths, Catholic and Presbyterian, respectively. That relationship structure continues after the merger with Providence.

“Hoag retains its own name, unique identity and culture, respecting Hoag’s Presbyterian roots. Hoag has its own fiduciary board of directors that is directly responsible for Hoag,” said Hoag Chief Executive Officer, Robert Braithwaite.

The St. Joseph Hoag Health name is used for the St. Joseph Hoag Health Wellness Corners and for marketing the St. Joseph Hoag Health network of care to employers, according to a Hoag spokesperson. There’s been no decision to change that name.

Wexler said, “The St. Joseph Hoag Health brand is not going away at this time but we will continue to explore how we create a common brand across all of Southern California.”

Braithwaite said Hoag will collaborate with Providence St. Joseph Health Southern California region. “Where there are best practices, we will collectively work together to leverage those practices to drive the best quality and outcomes for the communities we serve.”

Article originally published by Orange County Business Journal January 22, 2018

Categories: Leadership, News - SJHH