Joan Ulmer Bretschneider, 69, a nursing administrator and a longtime advocate for quality patient care, died Dec. 14 at her home in Germantown.
Mrs. Bretschneider retired in 2008 as director of education and lifelong learning at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. At her retirement the hospital established the Joan Bretschneider Award for Nursing Excellence given to a nurse who exemplified great leadership practice in working with patients and physicians.
Earlier she had worked for 18 years as a nursing administrator at Jefferson University Hospital in charge of all departments relating to women and children. While at Jefferson, she initiated health services outreach to the Chinatown community.
She had worked at community hospitals before becoming a professor of nursing at Villanova University.
Throughout her career Mrs. Bretschneider was a champion for women and breast feeding, especially among low-income mothers, and a longtime supporter and board member of the Maternity Care Coalition.
She also was an advocate for closer collaboration between physicians and nurses to improve patient care. She helped both Penn and Jefferson achieve so-called “magnet” status for the quality nursing care provided to patients.
Two years ago, she traveled to Botswana to train nurses there in leadership.
Born in Atlantic City, N.J., she attended Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, where she later served as school nurse and met her future husband. She received her RN from Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital in Darby, a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in health education from Temple University.
Along with her husband, Bud, Mrs. Bretschneider was active at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Germantown, which recently merged with two other Germantown Catholic parishes. She also served on the board of the regional DePaul Catholic Elementary School.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by a son, Martin; a daughter, Pilar Yeakel; a sister, Eileen Wertz, and five grandchildren.
A Mass of Resurrection was held Dec. 17 at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Germantown. Memorial donations may be made to the DePaul Catholic School, 44 W. Logan St., Philadelphia, PA 19144. – WF
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