Tina Kovacs, the chief financial officer for Saint Francis Hospital in Bartlett, was chosen as the 2017 Bartlett Express Readers’ Choice Woman of the year.
She was surprised but pleased at the honor. “I think it is very nice to be recognized.”
In her role as CFO for the past seven years, she is responsible for the financial operations of the hospital. Departments report to her, she takes part in the strategic plan for the hospital with the rest of the administrative team, and she is responsible for creating the budget annually and some related legal documents. She also spearheads the Employer of Choice Team (an employee satisfaction program) and serves on multiple governing boards.
She takes the initiative to understand her workplace and its innovations, even the new equipment that Saint Francis acquires. Trying to make sense of everything in her own way has helped her thrive in the changing field of healthcare.
“I’m very thorough,” she said. “If I don’t understand something or don’t know something, I’ll figure it out. And I think you kind of have to be that way when it comes to financials.”
She’s seen the hospital grow from a 96-bed facility to one that has 196 beds ready for its patients. The hospital has since built its Diagnostic Imaging Center and almost doubled the size of the Emergency Department during her years there.
Last year in particular was one of major growth and change at the hospital, she said. Kovacs kept an eye on the almost double-digit growth in volumetrics and balanced it with the hospital’s financials. Saint Francis also invested in growing the nursing staff to meet the community’s needs. The hospital supplemented with contract nurses and also brought in international nurses over the past year.
It was probably the hospital’s biggest growth year in the past four years, she said.
“It’s also been very rewarding,” Kovacs added. “It means that our community trusts us and wants us to take care of them. It’s been very rewarding too, just knowing that as we continue to improve on our services that our community is putting their trust in us and trusting us with their healthcare.”
Her role is one of long hours. The top five administrators at Saint Francis-Bartlett do “administrative rounding,” which means they take turns visiting with staff and patients, serving on call, and coming to the hospital on weekends and nights as needed. The goal is to get feedback so the hospital can continuously improve on safety, patient satisfaction, the availability of tools so staff can do their jobs, and other areas.
“I’ve gotten to know the people and the community by immersing myself into it,” Kovacs said. “I try to participate in everything that I can physically do. But I try to make sure that I walk around the department, meet new people, say hi to everyone, and that’s really how I’ve gotten myself immersed into the hospital and the community itself.”
She goes home at a reasonable hour to spend time with her family and then sometimes returns to the office to get in a couple of hours’ work while it’s quiet after her children have gone to bed. She invests a lot of herself in her work but strives for balance.
She and her husband, Mark, have three children ages 20, 12 and 5, with the younger ones active in soccer, cheer, dance and more and her oldest child in school at the University of Memphis. She also participates in many activities, ladies’ groups and the choir at Saint Francis of Assisi Church. Reading is her relaxation, and long walks around her neighborhood help her decompress after work.
Originally from New Orleans, La., Kovacs graduated from Loyola University with an accounting degree and then earned a master’s of business administration degree from the University of New Orleans. She worked in different fields while she was in school, and she happened to find a niche in healthcare when she applied for her first job.
She has worked for the hospital’s parent company, Tenet Healthcare, since 2001, when she was hired as a controller. Continuing to move up the career ladder, she was working as the assistant CFO for a large hospital in El Paso, Texas, when the position opened up in Bartlett. The move also put her closer to her parents at a time when her mother was sick, so taking the job here worked out well for her.
She loves it, she said.
“Everybody is just like family here,” she said about Saint Francis-Bartlett. “You don’t walk down the halls and not know people here like you do in some of the bigger facilities.”
She values the approximately 770 people employed at Saint Francis-Bartlett and the community they serve, and she takes her work seriously.
“Just making sure that we are looking out for our hospital’s best interests, our patients’ best interests, serving our community, but at the same time remaining financially viable, is very important,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who work here and depend on us to do that.”
CAROLYN BAHM is the editor of The Bartlett Express. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.