Katinka Wegerhoff of our Bellevue region is the kind of caregiver that staff, clients, and families appreciate. “Katinka is one of the easiest caregivers to work alongside,” said Clare McKannay, former manager of FRHC’s Bellevue office. “She is caring, compassionate, skilled, and has a unique ability to connect with her clients. She’s truly one of a kind!” Client Care Supervisor Shari Crossland concurs. “Katinka has a very calming effect on her clients. She exudes ‘capability’ and has a unique way of taking initiative without over-stepping. She is extremely well-organized and notices the little details that are important to her clients. Her clients just love her.”
Katinka has two clients: one who she sees once a week, the other who she sees four times a week. She has worked with this client since her second day with Family Resource and they are, in her words, “kindred spirits” who share many similarities. Both Katinka and her client, who is 92, are swimmers, and a highlight of their time together was swimming together in Lake Washington. They are also both musicians and play music together with the client on cello and Katinka on oboe. Katinka feels fortunate to have been matched with her client. “My goal is to help her find meaning in her day,” she says. “It’s important to me that she stays involved in activities and in the lives of those she loves.
“My client calls me her ‘third daughter,’” continues Katinka, and it is clear to everyone that their relationship is very special. Says Clare McKannay, “Katinka’s client, Fran, is in ‘awe’ of Katinka. They’ve developed a friendship through a bond of music and other shared interests. It’s both beautiful and exciting to watch.”
Katinka was born and raised in South Africa to parents who had emigrated from Denmark. She studied education and psychology, married, and soon found herself living in a small village where her husband worked in a mission hospital. When Katinka’s son turned four, she opened a school for the doctors’ children. But four years later, in 1993, South Africa was experiencing significant unrest and it became unsafe for Katinka and her family to remain. Her husband’s brother was living in Calgary, in Alberta, Canada, and this became the family’s first stop in their journey from South Africa to Seattle.
Their next stop was Houston, Texas and after that, Indianapolis, Indiana where her husband had been offered a directorship position in a medical laboratory. During the family’s fourteen years in Indiana, Katinka raised her children and, reviving an old interest and skill, became a swim coach to 5th and 6th grade middle-schoolers. However, having grown up in a family of medical professionals, Katinka had always wanted to be a nurse. She earned her CNA and took a night-shift position in a local hospital. It was there that she observed that nurses appeared to spend most of their time “handing out pills and entering data into a computer.” But as a CNA, she was able to work hands-on with the patients, which she loved.
In 2013, when her husband was offered a new job in Seattle, they were delighted to move to the Pacific Northwest. While waiting for her CNA license to transfer, Katinka again taught swimming and eventually became a trainer and manager of a swim school. But a year ago, things changed again.
Thinking about finally getting her nursing degree, she interviewed at a nursing school but quickly remembered her experience in Indianapolis. She wanted to work hands-on with her patients. And that is when she thought of home care. She read reviews of Family Resource Home Care and in early 2019 interviewed for a position and was hired immediately.
When she is not working, Katinka relishes time spent with her husband and her son’s family who also live in Seattle. “We love all the outdoor activities we can do here,” she says. “We swim, hike, ski, kayak, and every Tuesday I take care of my grandson.”
Katinka is very happy working 20 hours per week for Family Resource. “I absolutely love it,” she says. She is particularly complimentary about the Bellevue staff. “Everyone in the office communicates well and the office is well-organized. In most work environments communication is a problem, but not at FRHC. I feel supported and appreciated by the staff.”
The feeling is mutual. Family Resource Home Care staff respect and appreciate Katinka and the care she provides her clients. We feel fortunate to have her as part of our team.