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Kathy Kelly: Championing a Compassionate Community

By Laura Kuhn

In the boardroom at Franciscan Sisters of Chicago Service Corporation, the organization's mission statement is displayed prominently on a wall. It reads: "Our mission: To honor the dignity of life by serving as a compassionate community."

To Kathy Kelly, RN, MS, NHA, Vice President of Clinical Services, these aren't just words. They're a goal that she brings to work with her every day.

A history of caring

The Franciscan Sisters of Chicago trace their roots back to 1894, when Josephine Dudzik, a Polish immigrant, was compelled to action by the great need she saw among Chicago's elderly, ill and poor. Dudzik later known as Mother Mary Theresa established the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago as a religious congregation of women. In 1898, the group founded the St. Joseph Home of Chicago, the city's first Catholic nursing home.

More than a century after its inception, Kelly says Dudzik's vision is still at the forefront of everything that happens at the group's 14 facilities, collectively known as the Franciscan Communities. As a faith-based organization, the Franciscan Communities seek to meet the spiritual needs of their residents in addition to providing top-notch care.

Kelly has been with Franciscan Sisters for the past 10 years. Before that, she worked as a long-term care surveyor for the Joint Commission, as a director of nursing and in a number of roles at a hospital in Chicago. Her desire to get into nursing goes back to when she was just six years old. "I had an aunt who was a nurse, and I always knew how important her work was," Kelly recalls. "I knew I too wanted to be taking care of people. That is what makes my work gratifying."

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