Foster retires after 31 years as head of ‘family’

After getting up each and every day for the last thirty one years and making decisions about how to develop and improve Family HealthCare Network (FHCN), Harry Foster, President & CEO, will leave the organization on April 23, 2013.

Over that time period, the FHCN has grown from about eight people working from an old, converted gas station in Porterville to the largest primary health care provider in Tulare and Kings Counties. Currently, FHCN employs almost 800 staff members and serves over one in three (156,600) people who live in Tulare County through sixteen specific locations.

Foster says “I very much appreciate the opportunity to do the work that I do and I don’t regret one minute of the time that I’ve been with Family HealthCare Network.”

He recognizes that his wife, Walline, has played a key role in the success of the organization and feels a great deal of gratitude towards her for all that she has done. Over the years, FHCN and Foster have received numerous awards and recognitions. The Network has been named Business of the Year in Visalia, Porterville, Woodlake and Hanford. It has grown into an organization with a budget of $80M a year, contributing over $420M to the local economy in the last year, alone.

Foster has served in leadership positions with national, state and local boards of directors and committees during his tenure at FHCN. He has received national, state and local awards and recognition, including the National Association of Community Health Centers’ Administrator of the Year award, Cornell Scott Excellence in Leadership Award and the Louis Garcia Health Service Award. He was also inducted into the National Association of Community Health Centers’ “Grassroots Hall of Fame” in 2005. In addition to these awards, he has been the recipient of state level recognition, including the California Primary Care Association’s “Clinic Legacy Award” and the Central Valley Health Centers’ “Founders Award”, as well as the California Rural Health Associations’ Advocate of the Year award.

In 2002, Foster was chosen to carry the Olympic Torch in the Winter Olympics in recognition of his years of dedication to serving the underserved, and he says

“I appreciate all of the opportunities to give back to the community and the patients of Family HealthCare Network who would otherwise go without health care”.

Earlier this year, Foster chose his successor to carry on the torch of FHCN’s mission of serving patients from all “walks of life,” especially those who lack access to any other source of health care, because of financial, linguistic, cultural, geographic or transportation barriers. Overall, 75 percent of our patients are of Hispanic origin and 44 percent speak a language other than English. Most are families, with 84 percent of them living below the federal poverty line. The majority are young and female. A significant portion of our patients receive Medi-Cal; 25 percent have no insurance. Care is provided to patients on a sliding-scale basis.

Kerry Hydash, who has been selected by the Board of Directors as the new President & CEO, states, “Harry’s tremendous commitment and dedication are evident in the success of Family HealthCare Network.

“He has been a leader, and advocate, a mentor and a friend. He will be missed greatly, but his contribution will continue to be felt by the patients and communities that he worked so hard for.”

Foster plans to spend his retirement with his wife of 48 years, Walline, doing volunteer work for non-profit corporations, and “trying to make a positive difference in other people’s lives.”

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