Kevin Wirges, Chief Financial Officer at IMC Health
By Carolina Veira
When one listens to Arkansas native Johnny Cash’s song “I walk the Line”, one immediately notices the simplicity yet compelling meaning of his lyrics. This very famous song refers to commitment and responsibility, two traits of Kevin Wirges, Chief Financial Officer at IMC Health, who was also born in Arkansas, in the town of Little Rock.
Kevin stays true to his roots, you notice it when he talks about his football team, his Boy Scouts experiences, his high school friends and his family. His mornings at IMC Corporate always start with his red Arkansas Razorbacks mug filled with freshly made coffee. All these are constant reminders of his heritage, his pride and profound connection to Arkansas.
Around 7th or 8th grade, he realized he was good with numbers and appreciated the certainty that they offer, later deciding to choose Accounting as his University major. Kevin attended the University of Central Arkansas while simultaneously enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves. After graduating, he got his first job as an Accountant at Bruce Oakley Trucking where he not only managed their daily Accounting, but also developed a Safety Software in an effort to use technology to build efficiencies within his department. During this time, he became a whiz in Excel, something for which he is very famous around his peers and staff.
Kevin moved to Miami in 2007 after buying a one-way ticket without a real job offer or a place to stay, after asking his parents to drive his belongings to South Florida once “he was squared away”, a notable Marine saying. He landed in Miami on a Sunday afternoon and by Monday he had 3 interviews lined up, one of them at Atlantic Dental working for the CFO as a Finance Manager. He got the job after his previous boss provided a short but effective recommendation “You would be a moron if you did not hire him” to his new CFO.
He later transitioned to a few more roles with the same Finance team in different organizations, until he landed his role as Controller at Simply Healthcare Plans (Simply) where he was eventually promoted to Chief Financial Officer. It was this role and experience at Simply, the one that to this day he considers his biggest professional challenge and success. At Simply, he learned the ins and the outs of how health plans work and the data behind the bottom line. It is this same knowledge that he applies in all his departmental and company-wide initiatives at IMC Health in order to help the organization continue to grow organically while maximizing revenue, by adding more patients, more physicians and locations throughout South Florida.
He added that the approach to Healthcare in South Florida, and specifically in Miami, is very different to the one applied in the rest of the U.S. He mentions that when talking about IMC Health to other people working in the industry outside of Miami “It is mind-blowing to them that we as a Physician Group, care about the total health of the patient”. In Kevin’s eyes, it is that holistic approach that differentiates IMC Health from other PCP groups. He believes all IMC Health employees play the important role of being “true ambassadors” sharing the mission of IMC Health by understanding that everything they do impacts peoples’ lives and by delivering quality care to all IMC Health patients.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Spending time with my family. Look, I enjoy the fishing, I enjoy golfing, I enjoy all that stuff, but I enjoy spending time with (my son) Andrew and (my wife) Janet the most.
What sets you apart from your peers?
I think we are all in the same ship, we are all rolling to that same destination, so if I compare myself to Dr. Antun (Mayda Antun, Chief Medical Officer), or Douglas (Douglas Cowieson, COO), or Bill (Bill Lamoreaux, CEO), I am hyper-focused on the financial components of it, also understanding the operational and the clinical pieces of it. You’ve got to understand that, you have to take the blinders off. And I think because of my past and where I came from, I can understand how we should operate and how we should look at things, but also, flip it over and say okay, how would our health plan partners really look at what we are doing, and how does that really make sense, and is it good for both of us? Because it is very important that we align ourselves with our health plan providers. We want to do what is right for us, we want to do what is right for the patient obviously, but what we also want to do is what is right for our health plan partners. And so, understanding how they would interpret certain things I think is critical as well.
What is one of your favorite places here in Miami?
My favorite place does not exist anymore, I loved it, it was so good. It was a restaurant called Romeo’s. It was Italian food. There was no menu, and the chef would come out and he would ask you if you were allergic to anything. The restaurant was relatively small, I think he expanded it at some point, but would maybe serve 50 people in total, but he would make the meals right then. I liked that personal touch because he always made a point to come out and talk to you in the beginning and in the end, and even when you were leaving to give you a hug, but also it was fun because you did not know what you were going to eat because there was no menu. It was a phenomenal restaurant.
What do you feel most proud of?
I would say my family.
You do have a beautiful family.
I do. Look at that guy (as he looks at the picture of his son Andrew behind him).
He is the cutest. What is the advice you would give to your 13-year-old self?
Keep doing what you’re doing.
Were you a good kid?
I think I was a good kid. I remember being a good kid. I don’t remember being a bad kid. Back then I was a freshman in high school, so I was in the Boy Scouts, I made it out to Eagle Scout, which was awesome. So, I was focused on that, and my troop, troop 25, every month we would go camping, it did not matter if it was hot, cold, raining, it did not matter, every month we would go camping.
Would you say that was also part of you wanting to belong to the Marines?
Probably. I did Marines Corp JROTC when I was in high school, so that probably helped. Maybe indirectly it did, because a lot of the guys that were in my troop and I went to the same grade school together. We went to the same high school together, a lot of them were in JROTC, so probably yes.
What do you think is important to share about Healthcare with our community?
I think the biggest takeaway is that, especially in this day and age, the insurance companies are not trying to prevent people from accessing health care, it is quite the opposite, they want people to access health care, they just want the appropriate care to be given. What is interesting is that the model that we have at IMC really aligns our incentives to ensure our patients are as healthy as possible. If that means that we need to see that patient once a week for the next 12 weeks, then we are going to do that. If the patient is extremely healthy, he or she may not need to be seen once a week, maybe it is once every 6 months. It is ensuring that we are seeing the patients regularly and routinely, so we can prevent any catastrophic events that may happen. It is a holistic approach to care; we want to make sure we are doing everything to make their lives better.
Finally, what does Semper Fi mean to you?
Always Faithful. You know it is not only about being faithful, it is about commitment. Being committed to something and you see it through the hard times, the rough times, the good times, but it is commitment and so, getting it done.
Director of Finance & Brand Ambassador at IMC Health