Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Christine Bakke, 38
Administrator, Gorecki Care Center at St. Benedict's Senior Community
Inspired by her grandmother's nursing home experience as a young girl, Christine Bakke found her calling. Every week for 13 years, she would visit her grandmother and observe the devotion the nursing home staff showed to residents, as well as the depth of their care.
“When my grandmother passed away, we had her funeral at the nursing home. I remember turning around to look at the nursing home staff, and they were all crying. I couldn't believe people cared that much. That was when I knew what I wanted to do, making a difference in seniors' lives,” Bakke says.
Since receiving her bachelor's degree in sociology and her master's in healthcare administration from the University of Minnesota, Bakke, 38, then achieved her license for nursing home care. She is currently the administrator of the 222-bed Gorecki Care Center at St. Benedict's Senior Community, CentraCare Health System in St. Cloud, Minn. Her enthusiasm for serving the seniors of Minnesota is shown in her past and ongoing accomplishments.
Since becoming administrator in 2008, Bakke has received the Step I National Quality Award presented by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, which recognizes providers that have developed a foundation to begin a journey of continuous quality improvement. In 2009, she was awarded the Care Providers of Minnesota's Quality Improvement Team Award, which acknowledges the use of a continuous quality improvement-based approach to enhance the care of residents.
“She is doing a great job at placing herself strategically,” says Tom Wachlarowicz, director of Nursing for St. Benedict's Senior Community, CentraCare Health System “Her drive makes her stand out; she has a great sense to know where the pieces belong.” Bakke's disposition to “not sit still very well” is seen in her continuous passion to improve the lives of seniors. She completed a fellowship with Care Providers of Minnesota's Leading 4 Life in 2009 and is a member of the Care Providers Regulatory Affairs forum and the Legislative forum. She is also the District D chair for the Aging Services of Minnesota, as well as a member of several committees. Angela Berndt, a longtime friend and former colleague, says she looked to her as a mentor while Bakke was vice president of Older Adult and Support Services for the Mille Lacs Health System in Onamia, Minn. As her boss, Bakke “was always very encouraging” and trusted Angela's ability, challenging her to want more out of her career. “She dropped everything to help and would ask questions back to help me solve any problems I had, both professionally and personally,” Berndt says. “With her encouragement, she really helped me to get to where I am today, letting me know if you fail, that's just part of the journey.”