Five people standing side by side, smiling and one person holding a bunch of flowers.

Wauchope District Memorial Hospital's Acting Executive Officer and Director of Nursing, Kate Williams, Port Macquarie Base Hospital Occupational Therapy Manager, Ben Walkling, District Director Integrated Care Allied Health and Community Services, Jill Wong, retiring Occupational Therapist Susie McLennan and MNCLHD Chief Executive Stewart Dowrick.

Farewelling Susie after decades of service

Jun 28, 2023

One of Wauchope District Memorial Hospital’s longest-serving employees is retiring after an almost 60-year career, including 33 years serving the Wauchope community and surrounds.

Susie McLennan moved to the area with her late husband and young daughter in 1990 to take up the newly created role of Occupational Therapist – the first OT ever employed at the hospital.

Less than two years after moving to the area, Susie’s husband died unexpectedly leaving her with a six-year-old, living 25-kilometres out of town and no family support nearby.

“After Robert died, my life imploded overnight,” Susie said.

“I was a born-and-bred city girl who was living on a small farm dealing with cows treading on the pump and cutting off our water, snakes coming under our front door and everything in between.

“I was trying to keep working to support us while grieving this enormous loss.

“All my family wanted me to move back to Sydney but everyone in Wauchope and Pappinbarra had rallied around us. Even those we hadn’t met before.

“I knew we would be far better off in this caring community than in a huge impersonal city where so few knew what we’d been through.

“More than three decades later and I still think it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

As the first OT employed at Wauchope District Memorial Hospital, Susie has worked across almost every area – from the general hospital, community and paediatrics to rehab and now palliative care – which she loves.

“People are always surprised that I am 77 and still working – they can’t understand why I haven’t put my feet up,” she said.

“But I’ve been very lucky to have a 58-year career that I’ve loved. My job has given me so much satisfaction, I’ve never wanted to retire.

“I have always enjoyed the challenge of lateral thinking that is required in being an Occupational Therapist.

“My work in palliative care in recent years has been particularly fulfilling. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to support people at one of the most vulnerable and important times of their life.”

As for what’s next, Susie plans to take a well-deserved holiday to Europe and spend more time with her beloved granddaughters and her dalmatian, Lizzie.

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