Sister Irene Kraus was a tornado in a nun's habit-a strong-willed, compassionate and accomplished woman who left her mark not only on the U.S. healthcare landscape and the hospital industry she so loved, but on the thousands of lives she touched in her 50 years with the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul order, whose health system she helped organize and lead.
Kraus, who died in 1998 at 74, brought the values of her religious mission to the cold business realities of healthcare financing and delivery, imbuing the Daughters of Charity National Health System she served as founding president and chief executive officer with her wisdom, passion and leadership. To her, healthcare was a ministry, not an industry.
She was elected the first woman to chair the American Hospital Association in 1980. She also chaired the Catholic Health Association from 1972 to 1973 and earned a gold medal from the American College of Healthcare Executives. She said helping to develop the Daughters healthcare system was her greatest challenge.