Yvonne Kraker

    Yvonne Kraker
    Director of nursing-assisted living
    Catholic Health Initiatives facilities Franciscan Gardens,
    Franciscan House, Franciscan Courts

    Yvonne Kraker has wanted to work in health care all her life. She also wanted to be a missionary. Together, with her husband, Kraker has done that and so much more.

    Kraker, now director of nursing in assisted living for Catholic Health Initiatives facilities in South Milwaukee, started her nursing career at a hospital in Michigan. She met her husband, and through their church ministry, they traveled to a remote area of Africa and served the population there for 17 years.

    “It was very remote,” Kraker said. “One or two vehicles came through our village in a year, and they certainly didn’t have much in the way of health care.”

    According to Kraker, she helped train the village health workers and treated patients with rapid dog bites, snakebites, malaria and even leopard attacks. “Being in Africa was wonderful in shaping my nursing career,” Kraker said.

    She returned to the states and sought out a career in long-term health, she has worked with the elderly and patients with Alzheimer’s disease ever since.

    Her friend and fellow nurse, Cheryl Lingle, nominated Kraker for the award.

    “She has the patience of a saint and is able to re-direct a person with Alzheimer’s when no one else can,” Lingle said. “The resident is top priority for Yvonne and she acts as their advocate. She has the skills, the knowledge and the experience, plus the patience and compassion to provide excellent nursing to those in her care. She is willing to go the extra mile and always has a smile on her face.”

    As a teenager, Kraker worked as a CNA and has worked her way up in the industry she said.

    “I’m very honored to receive this award, but I’m also very humbled. It means so much to me,” Kraker said. “It helps me realize that every position in a health care setting is important. Everybody needs to work together for the benefit of the patients.”

    CLICK HERE to view the entire list of 2012 Healthcare Heroes

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