“It has been
interesting beginning a new job and then having a pandemic start.”
is matter-of-fact about that reality. She started as CoxHealth’s vice president
of Clinical Services in mid-January. She was in the role only a month before we
entered an unprecedented time, for health care and the world.
The situation has some upsides, though: “This has allowed me to get to know a lot of people at CoxHealth much quicker than I would have otherwise. It has been great to see everyone work as a team, and to see the community come together.”
Casad studied at University of Arkansas, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. She majored in history and minored in economics.
Entering college, she expected to continue a family tradition of working in the legal field. She briefly considered health care law before deciding to pursue health care administration. Casad earned a dual MBA and MHA from the University of Missouri – Columbia.
During graduate school, she completed an internship in Executive Administration at CoxHealth.
Immediately prior to joining our VP staff, she worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where she served as assistant administrator for neurosciences.
In her new role, Casad is responsible for a variety of areas, including: Oncology in Springfield, and Respiratory Care, Radiology and Laboratories across the system.
She took a break from Incident Command duties recently to answer a few questions – here is what she had to say:
Q: What sparked your interest in health care?
A: My mom is a physical therapist. She owns clinics in West Plains and Mountain Grove.
As a young child, I grew up spending my time after school at her clinic. It was great to see how impactful her work and clinic were to the community. I saw how much her career benefitted others.
As I got older, I was interested in business and strategy, and felt strongly that I wanted to spend my workdays making a positive impact on my community. A career in health care felt like the perfect way to marry my interest of business to meaningful work.
Q: You began your career with a two-year administrative fellowship at Johns Hopkins – what was your favorite part of that?
A: I got to work directly for senior leadership and rotate through the different departments – their primary care group, their payer group, community hospitals, academic hospitals and the school of medicine. I worked on everything from patient satisfaction and quality to finances and performance improvement projects.
Getting to work with and learn from senior leaders at an organization that has helped shape the health care industry and standards of care was amazing. Hopkins has some of the smartest and most driven physicians, nurses, administrators, etc. Working there, and getting to work with and learn from them on a daily basis was one of the highlights of my life.
Q: What made you want to work at CoxHealth?
A: I really enjoyed interning at CoxHealth. I liked the people, the culture and the mission. Though I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked at Hopkins, I didn’t think I wanted to stay at Hopkins or in Baltimore permanently. My husband and I had our daughter last June and we wanted to eventually be closer to one of our families.
I loved the idea of returning to CoxHealth. I knew it was an organization intentionally working to be more innovative and to grow. It was an organization where I could be excited about going to work each day and seeing progress being made. I’m really thankful for the opportunity to be back and work with the phenomenal team here.
Q: What has it been like working during COVID-19?
A: Obviously, I wish it wasn’t happening. That said, I do enjoy the adrenaline flowing and having to work quickly to get things done. It’s exciting to see how much can we get done in a day.
Q: What’s the biggest thing you have learned so far from this crisis?
A: I do well with coffee at 2 p.m – that’s what I’ve learned (laughs).
I haven’t really had enough time to reflect. I think in six months, we will be able to see all the changes due to COVID-19.
I have been so impressed with how quickly everyone pulled together, from staff working completely different jobs than normal, to the community dropping off masks. The teamwork that has occurred to get through this crisis at CoxHealth is extraordinary. After discussing with colleagues at other organizations, I think this organization has shown it is a much stronger team than most health systems.
Also, as I mentioned, we can get a lot of work done and make progress toward change very quickly — I do think it is important to remember that when we go back to normal. Change does not have to take a long time, it is often a choice, even if unintentional.
Q: How do you spend your time outside of work?
A: I love being outdoors — horseback riding and being on the water.
My husband and I like to travel. We hiked the Patagonia in Argentina in January and we want to go to Peru to hike Machu Picchu next. We love seeing natural beauty and great views — mountains, oceans and lakes. Anything where we can spend a good chunk of our time outside is great.
Q: Do you have a personal motto?
A: The quote that honestly pops into my head a lot is one from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” For me, I am often able to apply to both my personal and professional life.
Q: Can you tell us about a time you lived by that motto?
A: Well, I moved to Australia at 22 without a job or a place to live (laughs).
I needed to
work between my undergraduate graduation in December and starting graduate
school in August. Since it was just eight months, I thought the most likely job
I would get would be in the service industry. I figured if I was going to be
waiting tables, I might as well do so in Australia.
I moved to
Australia and five days later got a job as a waitress.
months, I was talking on Facebook with a friend who during a prior summer, I
had worked with at Camp Boggy Creek, a Paul Newman camp for kids with serious
told me he was going back for another summer, and it made me wish I was getting
to spend my summer there, rather than stay in Australia for their winter.
The next day,
I reached out to the camp director to see if there were any spots left.
They had one spot open, so four days later, I hopped on a plane to the U.S. and was at camp just two days after that.
I am really glad I followed my gut on this change of plans, since that summer I met my husband, Cameron.
We spent the summer working together as managers at the camp.
I am always up for an adventure. I think both moving to Australia and returning from Australia are examples of this motto.
Nothing is ever going to be exactly “the right time.” I am a big believer in taking a chance, and just doing it.
Ashley Casad at a glance
Hometown: West Plains, Mo.
Family: Husband, Cameron, an attorney with not-for-profit Legal Services of Southern Missouri; daughter, Merritt, who turns 1 in June; and cat Tucker, who is ready for Ashley and Cameron to finish working from home part-time and get back in the office.
Biggest pet peeve: “When I order food in the drive-thru and it’s wrong.”
Most recently read: “The Handmaid’s Tale.” “I’m working through a Top 100 Books list.”
Listening to in the car: “To and from work, it’s NPR. On longer trips, it’s a lot of country music. I really like Chris Stapleton a lot – his voice is so great.”