2008 Distinguished achievement award: Katherine Hermansen

// Industrial & Systems Engineering

Tags: alumni, Engineers' Day, ISyE E-Day, Katherine Hermansen

Share this story:

Katherine L. Hermansen 
Vice President, Clinical Performance Excellence
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare
BSIE ’86
Glendale, Wisconsin

With cobbled streets and flowerpots in every window, Assisi, Italy, is a small town three hours from Rome. Katherine L. Hermansen found herself there in May 2007, following in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare, the two saints instrumental in founding the Franciscan Order.

The 12-day trip was not a vacation—it was a pilgrimage for the senior leaders of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, where Hermansen is vice president of clinical performance excellence. The pilgrimage was an opportunity for Wheaton leaders to deepen their understanding of the organization’s Franciscan heritage and grow together as a community engaged in a common ministry.

Wheaton’s strong commitment to its values was one reason Hermansen was attracted to the organization. The effect on people’s lives makes healthcare projects especially meaningful to her, and her current work focuses on developing and implementing systematic processes that will keep quality patient care high.

Hermansen’s introduction to healthcare came as a senior industrial engineering student at UW-Madison, where she conducted an operational analysis for the employee health department at the University of Wisconsin Hospital. After that, she was hooked.

After graduation, Hermansen worked for the SwedishAmerican Health System in Rockford, Illinois. While there, she helped reduce turnaround time for lab test results and redesigned the hospital admission process. She also was instrumental in several prestigious quality awards the company earned.

In 1993, she obtained her MBA from Rockford College. In 2001, she moved back to her hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, to work for All Saints, a Wheaton hospital. There she oversaw several initiatives, including partnering with nursing leaders to improve patient satisfaction from the 17th to the 87th percentile and leading All Saints’ successful application for the Wisconsin Forward Award. In 2007, she was promoted to her current position at the corporate office.

A fellow of the Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society, she is one of only 26 members honored with diplomate status in the Society for Health Systems (SHS), a division of the Institute of Industrial Engineers. The honors recognize her contributions to these professional organizations and the healthcare industry. She recently served a two-year term on the SHS Board of Directors.

In her spare time, Hermansen is an avid sailor and golfer. She grew up sailing on Lake Michigan with her father, a retired mechanical engineer, and she still competes in regattas. She also enjoys spending time with her three nephews and one niece.