The Triangle Business Journal recognized its 2022 class of CEO & C-Suite Award winners last week. Mickey Foster, chief executive officer for FirstHealth of the Carolinas, is one of 22 award winners recognized for his contributions to the community.
Foster joined FirstHealth in July 2019, bringing more than 25 years of experience in hospital and health system leadership roles and a relentless focus on employee engagement and patient safety and satisfaction.
Under Foster’s leadership, FirstHealth has received some of the most prestigious awards for health care quality, safety and patient experience including back-to-back Fortune/Merative 100 Top Hospital awards for 2021 and 2022, the Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award for 15 years in a row and most recently being named one of the top three hospitals in the state by U.S. News & World Report.
“Under Mickey’s steadfast leadership, FirstHealth has shown resiliency during the challenges of the last two years and has taken major steps forward,” said Gary VonCannon, chair of the FirstHealth of the Carolinas board of directors. “Mickey’s commitment to the employees of FirstHealth and the patients and communities served by the health system are reflected in the ways he leads the organization, and he’s extremely deserving of this recognition.”
Foster believes strongly in building a culture in which every member of the team is 100% committed to the goals of the organization. Immediately upon joining FirstHealth as CEO, he acted on this commitment by establishing employee engagement activities that he believes have made him a better leader.
Every month, Mickey selects employees to job shadow. He forgoes the typical suit and tie and puts on scrubs or other appropriate attire to work alongside staff to see firsthand what leadership can do to improve the work environment and services provided at FirstHealth. He also meets monthly with different groups of employees from around the system to have lunch and engage in open discussion about FirstHealth and opportunities to improve employee satisfaction and engagement.
“I am inspired every day by FirstHealth’s devoted team of health care professionals,” said Foster. “I view this award as a team award. It reflects the more than 5,400 employees, 900 medical staff members and 500 volunteers that make up the inspiring FirstHealth family. This award is truly for all of them.”
Foster began his health care career at FirstHealth 28 years ago as an education coordinator at Moore Regional Hospital. He later served as director at Randolph Hospital in Asheboro, N.C. from 1997 to 2002. From 2002 to 2007, he was administrative director at Duke Raleigh Hospital in Raleigh, N.C. He later served as vice president and chief operating officer at Maria Parham Medical Center in Henderson, N.C. He then joined Cone Health in Greensboro, N.C., serving as president of Cone Health’s Annie Penn Hospital and senior vice president of hospital operations before becoming president of Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital and senior vice president for Cone Health.
Foster returned to FirstHealth of the Carolinas on July 8, 2019, the very place he started his health care career, as chief executive officer.
Foster earned his Bachelor of Science in Community Health from East Carolina University and a Master of Health Services Administration degree from Central Michigan University. He is actively involved in civic leadership roles. He serves on the Moore County Partners in Progress board of directors and is a member of the East Carolina University Board of Visitors and the East Carolina University Educational Foundation — Pirate Club. Foster was awarded the Triad Business Journal Top 40 Leaders under 40 and Triad Business Journal Most Influential Leader Award. He was also named to Business North Carolina Magazine’s Power List for 2021 and 2022.
“This year’s class of C-suite winners is impressive,” said Jason Christie, publisher and market president of Triangle Business Journal. “They represent the best of the best in corporate leadership in The Triangle. We’re proud of what they’ve accomplished, and they have set the bar for others to follow.”