ST. MARYS, Georgia: February 24, 2022 – When Ashton Foster, RDCS, finishes an echocardiogram and prepares to leave the patient’s bedside, she always asks, “Do you need anything?” It’s a simple gesture that speaks volumes about her ability to turn personal struggle into empathy. “After being a patient myself, I understand what it’s like to lay in a hospital bed. Something as simple as plugging in a phone charger or turning off a light can help during their recovery.”
Foster works as a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer in the Southeast Georgia Health System Camden Campus Cardiopulmonary Department. Echocardiograms use sound waves to create moving images of the heart. “These images capture important information about the heart’s structure and function,” Foster explains.
She originally became interested in a health care career years ago after undergoing an echocardiogram herself. The heart palpitations which prompted the test were no cause for concern, but the experience itself was fortuitous. “I was so intrigued by the exam, I asked the technologist a lot of questions. I decided to redirect my career path, signed up for a job shadowing opportunity and fell in love with the field.”
In 2018, Foster experienced the opposite side of health care when she became a patient searching for solutions to a rare blood clot disorder. “I had multiple surgeries and a temporary loss of function in my right hand,” Foster says. To find a hospital that could treat her condition, Foster travelled to Boston. Once her surgeries were complete, she returned home to Georgia and started occupational therapy at the Camden Campus Outpatient Rehabilitation Care Center. “They completely restored the function in my hand, and I was able to get back to work!”
Foster’s medical crisis became a force for good when she interacts with patients. During a normal work day, she not only performs echocardiogram exams but also assists with cardiac stress testing and EKG’s. “I see many patients multiple times during their visit and spend hours at their bedside, one-on-one. This time gives me an opportunity to get to know them as people. I try to lend them an ear, especially when the pandemic prevented visitors,” explains Foster.
Diana Cameron, RRT, manager of Radiology and Cardiopulmonary Services at the Health System Camden Campus, is grateful for the compassionate care that Foster provides her patients. “Ashton joined our team with invaluable knowledge of the field. Every day, I’m witness to her skills as she ensures that patients have a great experience while giving them expert care.” Clearly impressed with Foster’s contributions, Cameron is only half joking when she says, “She’s never allowed to leave us!”
Like many people, Foster put her aspirations on hold during the pandemic. In previous years, she participated in the Health System’s Community Health Fair and volunteered with The SafeBeat Initiative, a non-profit organization which provides preventative heart screenings to reduce sudden cardiac death in youths. Those events were halted, like so many things, during the pandemic, so she’s especially grateful for the opportunity to serve the community as a frontline essential worker, “for an organization where coworkers feel like family.” Her own family includes an 18-month-old daughter, Coastlyn.
When she’s not caring for patients and her young child, Foster enjoys southeast Georgia’s natural resources and outdoor activities, including fishing, boating and visiting the beach. A native of Patterson, Georgia, she loves living in St. Marys but also dreams of seeing the Northern Lights. On a daily basis, she continues to use her professional expertise to provide doctors with the information they need to save lives and her personal empathy to provide patients with the compassionate care they need, when they need it most.
About Southeast Georgia Health System
Southeast Georgia Health System is a not-for-profit health system comprised of two acute care hospitals, two long term care facilities, two comprehensive Cancer Care Centers and multiple specialty care centers, including orthopedic and spine care, joint replacement, breast care, maternity, outpatient rehabilitation, sleep management and wound care. The Brunswick Campus Cancer Care Center is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and offers the only CyberKnife® M6 with MLC technology in Georgia. Additionally, the Southeast Georgia Physician Associates medical group includes more than 140 providers working in 20 different medical specialties at more than 50 locations. The Health System is part of Coastal Community Health, a regional affiliation between Baptist Health and Southeast Georgia Health System forming a highly integrated hospital network focused on significant initiatives designed to enhance the quality and value of care provided to our contiguous communities. For more information, visit sghs.org.