Caldwell Memorial Hospital Board Names New CEO

Laura J. Easton

Lenoir, NC

The Caldwell Memorial Hospital Board of Directors voted at the regular monthly meeting last night to approve the appointment of Laura J. Easton, as President and CEO to replace Fred Soule upon his retirement after 31 years in that position, at the end of December. According to Board Chairman, Gene Barrier, “Laura Easton was the logical and obvious choice of the board. We expect great things to continue to happen under her leadership. She has served this hospital since 1995 when she came to CMH as Vice President of Nursing. In 2002, she was promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. During her tenure, she has demonstrated her keen awareness of healthcare issues and guided many of the hospital’s efforts to strengthen its position as the hospital of choice for Caldwell County residents.”

Key among these has been her role in the creation of several healthcare initiatives in collaboration with other hospitals that result in improved service and access to healthcare for people of this region. Easton is the Board Chair of Guardian Home Health, LLC, a corporation that provides home health services to Caldwell and surrounding counties; and is a Board Member of both Mobile Imaging Services, LLC and American Home Patient of the Unifour, LLC, companies that provide mobile MRI services and durable medical equipment respectively.

Her appointment to the American Hospital Association Commission on Workforce resulted in a heightened awareness of the need for diversity in the healthcare workforce in Caldwell County, North Carolina and the nation. She was instrumental in a collaboration of four rural North Carolina hospitals to develop a grant-funded diversity awareness-training program as well as a recruitment program that seeks to attract healthcare workers that are more representative of the communities they serve. Vice Chairman of the CMH Board, William Howard, III, Vice President for Human Resources with Bernhardt Furniture Company, has high praise for this cutting-edge effort, “Laura has brought a standard of workforce development to Caldwell County healthcare that might only be expected in larger areas. Caldwell Memorial Hospital serving as a leader in workplace diversity awareness is beneficial to all citizens and employers of Caldwell County.”

“Laura Easton is a strategic thinker who articulates a reasoned vision for the future of this hospital and a deliberate plan to make it happen,” says David Horn, Vice President for Business Development. “She gives focused attention to the challenges facing the delivery in healthcare in our community and wrestles with those challenges until a plan can be developed, implemented, evaluated and adjusted until it works.” One of the current projects being developed under her leadership is a joint venture with MedCath, the nation’s largest provider of cardiac catheterization laboratory services, to provide a fixed cardiac cath lab at Caldwell Memorial Hospital scheduled to open in November. Another is the agreement with the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center to bring radiation oncology services to the campus of Caldwell Memorial Hospital to serve the needs of cancer patients from this region.

Prior to coming to Caldwell Memorial Hospital, Mrs. Easton had served in both administrative and clinical positions in several well-known hospitals including Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, and Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro. She holds a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania; a Certificate in Administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania; and a Bachelor of Science from Duke University. Additionally, she completed a Kellogg Health Policy Fellowship in Washington, D.C. in 1986, and a Healthcare Executive Fellowship in Management at the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Mrs. Easton is a member the American College of Healthcare Executives. Her civic activity in the community includes being a board member of The Education Foundation of Caldwell County. She lives in Lenoir with her husband Martyn Easton and their four children: Jonathan, Nicholas, Sarah and Rachel.