From Fashion to the Front Lines: Meet Lauren Foster, Miami’s Real Life Super Hero
I first met Lauren Foster through my mother at the opening of Miss Sixty, on Lincoln Road. You likely remember the days when 944 Magazine was in existence. Well – I was hosting a party for the magazine. That night would forever go down in the books for two reasons. Firstly, go figure that an unknown Lady Gaga was performing in front of a shoe rack. And, secondly, I met Lauren who ma had bragged about for months. The rest was history. We didn’t even notice Lady G (no, not Lindsey Graham) and basically it was love at first fist pump. The past fifteen years have included no dull moments – from break ups, trips to Palm Beach for vintage shopping, dance parties on yachts (which Lauren refers to as canoes), loves, endless Miami nights, and countless Art Basel weeks. Aside from being a dear friend, Lauren was also featured in VOGUE (Mexico) as she walked the catwalk for decades. But most importantly, all of that glitz and glam aside, her latest incarnation is as the guardian of all thing’s LGBTQ at UM Hospital. And, it is the one she is most proud of and just last year she was named VARIETY Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” for her work at the hospital.
Most recently, Fosters role as the Director of Concierge and LGBTQ+ Services took a turn, one that she feels passionately about: caring for patients and their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. We sat down with mademoiselle for a short convo about all things UM.
E: Tell me what your thoughts are about this pandemic.
L: Well, let’s begin with this president. I can’t even say his name, so I’ll just refer to him as 45. If he had acted faster, instead of golfing, the US would not be in the crisis we find ourselves now. It is truly terrifying. I understand it is a global pandemic but if he had acted sooner, tens of thousands of lives would have been saved.
E: How are things at the hospital?
L: Erin, I have never been so proud of a team as I am of the one in place at UM. Before the pandemic hit, there were some major shifts in leadership here. Beginning with Dr. Parekh. In September 2017 he was named CCO and changes were quickly put in place. There are so many formidable women here now. Kym Manni, our COO and the woman who originally hired me, leads the everyday operations here like a ‘boss.’ Another smart move by Dr Parekh in 2018 was recruiting Maureen Fagan, our CNE, from the Brigham in Boston to lead our Patient Experience team here. She brought with her Kristen Murphy, our Executive Director of Patient and Family Centered Care. This cadre of powerful women have turned this hospital around. We were fully prepared for COVID!
E: How has your role changed with COVID?
L: For the safety of our patients and their loved ones, we, unfortunately cannot allow visitors in the hospital. As you could imagine, this can be devastating for some family members and loved ones. I truly feel so much compassion for them. I have been alone in a foreign hospital in Europe, without my family by my side. It was scary. I keep in touch with the families of patients with calls to re-assure then their loved ones are in good hands. We also facetime with them after their procedures. The smiles and gratitude are my reward. This pandemic has also elicited an abundance of kindness from the community. Strangers will drop off boxes of pizzas, people will stop us in the street to thank us solely for doing our jobs. You introduced me to Tropical Chinese years ago and now Mei, the owner, delivers weekly meals to the true heroes of the hospital, our OR staff and the nurses who deal with our COVID-19 patients on a daily basis.