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Agnes Berger, R.N., Honored by Catholic Health East for 60 Years of Continuous Service

January 5, 2011

From left: Jacque Kinder, Ed.D., former CHE board chair, Sr. Barbara Wheeley, R.S.M., CHE sponsors council coordinator, Agnes Berger, R.N., and Judy Persichilli, R.N., B.S.N., M.A., president and chief executive officer, Catholic Health East.

Newtown Square, Pa., Wednesday, January 5, 2011 – The year is 1950. Harry Truman is president. The Cold War is heating up. A first class postage stamp costs 3 cents. Something called a “credit card” made its first appearance. And Agnes Berger, a recent graduate of Misericordia Nursing School in Philadelphia, had her eye on getting a job with a brand new hospital that was being built in Camden – Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, the first Catholic hospital in southern New Jersey.

Agnes applied for a job and she became the first operating room nurse hired by the hospital. She actually started working weeks before the hospital opened…ordering and stocking supplies, establishing OR policies and procedures, and hiring OR staff. The hospital opened its doors on July 1, 1950 and Agnes was there from the very first day And, incredibly…SHE IS STILL THERE!

On Wednesday, December 8, 2010, at the joint meeting of the Catholic Health East (CHE) board of directors and the CHE Sponsors Council, Agnes Berger was recognized and honored for her 60 years of continuous, dedicated service to her patients, her co-workers and her profession. CHE President and CEO Judy Persichilli introduced Agnes and her story to the group, and she was presented with a board resolution honoring her achievements and accomplishments.

Agnes’ story is one of dedication, strength, commitment, faith, and love. Love for her patients. Love for her co-workers. And love for her profession. Agnes chose to work in the operating room, an area of the hospital that has been at the epicenter of amazing technological advancements. She has been witness to the growth and advancement of surgical techniques that could not even have been dreamed about 60 years ago. She helped to plan and implement the Kidney Transplant and Open Heart Surgery programs at Lourdes in the early 1970’s, and her skill, experience and expertise were counted on to help plan and open the second generation of OR suites at Lourdes in 1976. And as new technologies such as laparoscopic and robotic surgery became essential operating room tools, Agnes Berger kept right up with the times…continuing to learn and refine her skills throughout her career.

“Agnes is an amazing woman,” said Scott Share, Catholic Health East (CHE) vice president, communications who worked at Lourdes with Agnes for 20 years. “She has mentored and served as a role model for hundreds of surgical nurses…as well as some of their children!! She is an inspiration to nurses and health care professionals at Lourdes and throughout our health ministry.”

Lourdes Health System is a regional health corporation of Catholic Health East, a multi-institutional Catholic health system co-sponsored by nine religious congregations and Hope Ministries, is based in Newtown Square, Pa. Catholic Health East provides the means to ensure the continuation of the Catholic identity and operational strength of the Sponsors’ health ministries, which are located in 11 eastern states from Maine to Florida. The system includes over 100 facilities comprised of acute-care hospitals, long-term care and assisted living facilities, and behavioral-health and rehabilitation facilities. More information is available on the CHE website at