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A Promise Kept

Joan & Andy Fimiano Leave a Legacy at Hoag with a Transformational Gift 

Joan Fimiano will never forget how she felt the day in 2005 when she rushed husband Andy to Hoag’s emergency room. The nurse who triaged Andy on their arrival recognized the symptoms of anaphylactic shock and acted quickly to begin the emergency treatment that saved his life. Gregarious and outgoing under normal circumstances, Joan found herself calm and unusually quiet as she waited several hours for Andy to stabilize.

Filled with relief when the danger passed and Andy was on the mend, Joan realized that this was a seminal moment. “My whole life could have changed in an instant,” shares Joan. “Since that experience I’ve slowed down to focus on the things that are most important to me. And, I made a promise to myself that someday we would find a way to do something to help Hoag.”

Andy shared Joan’s appreciation for Hoag and, after noting the ongoing emergency department construction during a recent visit for a routine test, an idea took hold. After the couple did some fact gathering and contemplating, Joan and Andy decided to make a transformational gift to support the Hoag Hospital Newport Beach emergency department renovation and expansion. In recognition of their significant commitment, Hoag has named the Joan & Andy Fimiano Emergency Pavilion in their honor.

Building a Life

Although they first met at a pool party at age 12, romantic interest didn’t spark between the Easton, Pennsylvania natives until she asked him out when they were both 15. Andy’s cool response, which belied his deep interest in the beautiful and warm-hearted Joan, almost derailed the romance before it began. After a “trial” date in which they walked to a football game but were so engrossed in conversation that they walked right past the stadium, they dated for the next seven years.

Joan attended Mansfield State University and studied to be a teacher while Andy earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Bucknell University. In their last year of college Andy popped the question and they married within six weeks. After graduation Andy took a job in Florida where Joan started her career as an elementary school teacher. Later, Andy’s career moved them to Des Moines, Iowa where he simultaneously moved up the corporate ladder and picked up an MBA from Drake University.

In 1980, they moved again for Andy’s career, this time to California. By 1982 Andy had joined Southland Industries, Inc. as the VP of sales. Over the years, he ascended in the company eventually becoming the majority owner and growing Southland from $10M to over $500M in annual revenue. Today Southland, which designs, builds and services plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems is one of the nation’s largest mechanical contractors with 1500 employees nationwide and projects throughout the United States.

Joan, who retired from teaching in 1984 and Andy, who is implementing a succession plan at Southland that will eventually lead to his retirement, are preparing to celebrate their 40th anniversary in July. While they’ve traveled a great deal, the Fimianos are content these days to spend time with good friends and family, take their nightly walks along the beach and do some golfing. History buffs Joan and Andy also love visiting and exploring historic battlefields like Gettysburg, Valley Forge, Antietam and the beaches of Normandy.

Long Relationship with Hoag

When they landed in California, the Fimianos initially settled in Huntington Beach before moving to Newport Beach in 1983. While touring the area for the first time, they were advised by their realtor to “go straight to Hoag” if they ever had any medical issues. A few years later when Andy’s father had heart trouble while visiting, they followed her advice and have considered Hoag their provider of choice ever since.

“There are three things I would say about supporting Hoag,” says Andy. “The first is that it’s a community icon, it comes immediately to mind when you mention Newport Beach. The second relates to my career. At Southland we do all types of projects but in the last 10 years, we’ve done several hospitals, some very special like the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The third is that in talking to friends and family, there’s no one who hasn’t either been to the Hoag ER themselves or known someone who has. I think of these as concentric circles that come together in a sweet spot.”

Andy adds with a twinkle in his eye, “Some would say that Joan is getting top billing in the naming,” he laughs. “I would argue we’re getting equal billing. It’s been a team effort for all these years, everything I did, every sleepless night, every move we made, she was by my side. It was truly a team effort.”

Joan and Andy are thrilled about the impact their gift will make on the community and hope that it inspires others to do what they can. “I feel proud that we kept our promise to Hoag,” says Joan. “We fell in love with this area from the moment we came here. It’s pleasing that something of us will remain after we’re gone and that our legacy will touch the lives of countless patients and their families.”

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