Sr. Kathleen was recently honored by the newspaper Corpus Christi Caller.
When Sister Kathleen Coughlin entered Incarnate Word convent in 1960, she expected to become a teacher, since that’s what most of the postulants did.
“But I was placed in nursing,” she told the Caller-Times in 1981. “I’ve often thought that God was involved in that decision, because I feel this is where I belong.”
That decision led to three decades in healthcare, 14 years of that as the head of Corpus Christi’s Spohn Health System. Coughlin (pronounced Cog-lin) credited her childhood in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri with her success in the hospital administration business. Her father was a councilman for 20 years and she learned the ins and outs of community meet-and-greets, campaigns and controversies.
She rose through the ranks in healthcare at several hospitals — including director of nursing at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paris, Texas, assistant administrator and then administrator at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Amarillo – before coming to Corpus Christi in 1981 as president of Spohn. She earned numerous awards during her career, from Woman of the Year in Amarillo, the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America and the Brotherhood and Humanitarian Award from the National Conference of Christians & Jews.
Coughlin guided the growth of the hospital system over the next 20 years first as president and then chief executive officer, culminating in the addition of Spohn Hospital South on Saratoga Boulevard to serve the growing city. The $45-million facility opened in 1994, and Coughlin retired soon after. In 1998 the Christus Health merged with the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and the Spohn system became Christus Spohn. She now works for the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio in institutional advancement.
Source: Allison Ehrlich, Corpus Christi Caller Times.
On the header: Sister Kathleen Coughlin was appointed president of Corpus Christi’s Spohn Hospital in 1981 and eventually the chief executive officer of Spohn Health System. She retired in 1995. (Photo: Lee Dodds/Caller-Times file)