Family’s History Continues to be Told

No history of St. Luke’s University Health Network would be complete without including the August-Kratzer family.

You can’t go very far at St. Luke’s without finding someone related to Fran Kratzer (nee’ August) or one of her relatives. She was the first in her family to work for St. Luke’s Bethlehem Campus—when it was just one hospital, starting there in medical records in 1954 just after graduating from Bethlehem High School.

She thrived at the job for 44 years before retiring for the first time in 1998; it’s the only job she had there or anywhere else in her life, and she’s now in her 80s.

Hearing Fran’s memories and praise for the work and people at St. Luke’s, it’s no surprise she stayed so long!

“I had a great job that was very interesting, and everyone was so nice, too,” she says enthusiastically.

“I started as a coder, using the old-fashioned pen and paper, though it changed a lot,” she adds. She rose to the many challenges and changes in technology, including having to adapt to using first electric typewriters, then computers.

“I’m afraid of new stuff, but I learned to use them,” she says proudly.

Fran especially appreciated her coworkers and the kindness of the doctors who came to the department to fill out and sign medical records.

“And back then, they served us our Christmas meal, which was so nice,” Fran adds.

A total of 23 members of her Bethlehem-based family have been part of SLUHN so far, serving the network and community for a total of more than 312 years and counting.

They’ve worked in many departments, mostly based at the original Bethlehem campus: administration, nursing and other clinical services, engineering, marketing and more. Imagine the St. Luke’s-related chatter that takes place when they gather for their family reunions!

Fran pulls from her razor-sharp memory as she recites the names of many of her family who have come and gone from St. Luke’s: Cousin Maria August, who was employed in environmental services, Annette Schweder who retired from the School of Nursing, Janice Teles Concilio former vice president of patient care services, Marcia Guerriero, Marie Kiss, Rich August…the list goes on.

Eleven of her relatives currently work there, including her son, Gene, a courier who retired from a career with the City of Bethlehem; her daughter-in-law Stephanie Schweder-Kratzer of development; Emilia DosSantos in administration; Fuzzy Roseman, a courier (and another octogenarian); Eddie August, also a

courier; Kelly Sweeney Swigart, Fran’s granddaughter who works for Ellen Field, MD. and Kelly’s husband, Galin Swigart, media production; also Kelly’s sister, Emily Sweeney, employed in network human resources.

“Kelly and Galin are expecting their first child soon,” Fran says. Perhaps their baby will carry on the family history at St. Luke’s.

Also, there’s Michael Kiss, who works in engineering with his son Michael, Jr. The senior Michael is another long timer with 43 years of service at the hospital.

And the list goes on and will likely continue to grow.

“It’s a big family, who clearly loves St. Luke’s,” says Stephanie, a newcomer to the organization having joined in 2021. “Theirs is a pretty amazing legacy with 23 people.”

Not only was Fran, her mother-in-law, on staff there, but she was a patient, too, over the years. Fran gave birth to her three children at St. Luke’s.

She retired at age 62, but she couldn’t stay away long. She soon took her passion back there as a volunteer, recently marking another 16 years at the hospital. Sixty years with the organization is a milestone few people ever achieve.

These days at 86-years-young, and still going strong, she can be found in Lobby A in the Bethlehem hospital as a greeter one-half day a week, welcoming visitors and patients, directing them to patient care units, testing stations and specialty services and fetching wheelchairs for those in need.

Fran, who lives a block away from the hospital, says she’ll continue giving her time to St. Luke’s as long as “God is good to me, and I can still walk.”

“It’s a wonderful experience being here,” she says brightly, without committing to yet a second retirement from the hospital where so much of her own personal history has taken place

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