Nationally ranked care. Another way our love for kids just keeps on growing.


Katie Francis, winner of the Nancy Fedak Ross Exceptional Nurse Award, displays her award with its namesake after the ceremony.

Fixing a problem for a baby still in its mother’s womb is an awe-inspiring feat of medical technology and skill, but at the heart of the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute is the compassionate care provided by the doctors and nurses.

Katie Francis, nurse coordinator of the Fetal Care Institute, was honored for her compassionate care as the sixth annual winner of the Nancy Fedak Ross, RN, Exceptional Nurse Award.

“Katie is inspired by our mothers and feels if you put yourself in their place, you understand their fears and go the extra step to help them,” said Leann Zerkel, interim executive director of nursing. “She believes you must think outside the box and never take no for an answer, raise the bar for patient care and provide each patient with exceptional care.”

Francis came to Cardinal Glennon in 1999 as a staff nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. After three years, she joined the transport team, traveling around the region to help sick children for six years. While working this demanding job, she completed her Master’s degree as a pediatric nurse practitioner.

In March 2009, Francis became the nurse coordinator for the new St. Louis Fetal Care Institute, an innovative program that brought an unprecedented level of fetal care to the St. Louis region. Francis worked to mold the new program alongside co-directors Dr. Ed Yang, a pediatric and fetal surgeon, and Dr. Mike Vlastos, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist.

The St. Louis Fetal Care Institute has grown into a thriving program, providing advanced diagnosis for fetal abnormalities, fetal care coordination for families and fetal intervention to help babies whenever possible.

As one of two nurse coordinators, Francis develops a close relationship with the families served by the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute. For families undergoing a stressful time, Francis is a calming and familiar presence, helping them navigate a difficult situation.

“Over the last year and a half, she has helped bring the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute to its current level as a recognized center of excellence,” Zerkel said.

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