Hospital builder, brilliant manager: ‘one of a kind’ Sue signs off

FAREWELL SUE: Meg O'Brien, Mim Eaton, Sue Patterson, Barb Cridlands and Kim Dickerson at Mrs Patterson's farewell. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH 0809MSsue1.
FAREWELL SUE: Meg O'Brien, Mim Eaton, Sue Patterson, Barb Cridlands and Kim Dickerson at Mrs Patterson's farewell. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH 0809MSsue1.

One of Orange Health Service’s most important and revered figures from the last decade has retired after 42 years in the health sector across Orange, Bathurst and Sydney.

Former director of nursing Sue Patterson was a crucial player in designing, constructing and transitioning from the old Base hospital to the new Forest Road development in 2011.

Mrs Patterson, who worked in Sydney for three decades, moved to Orange in 2008 to take up the director role, with her 10-year stint in the Central West including a three-year stint as the managing director at Bathurst Base Hospital. 

Hospital staff were invited to an afternoon tea on Thursday afternoon to thank Mrs Patterson for her service, with nearly an hour of emotional speeches drawing out the tears through laughter and sadness at seeing her leave. 

“I’m very overwhelmed by the kind things said about me and my career and sad as well, but it is time,” Mrs Patterson said.

“There’s been a significant change in health across that time, and I think for the good, professionalism of nursing and midwifery and its focus on the care of our patients. It’s what we’re all about.”

I think I’d be incredibly lucky to see someone like her again.

Mim Eaton

She said it was “wonderful” to see the nurses in Orange develop as well, and loved being a part of constructing the new hospital. 

“That was my passion, helping build this and design this hospital and with a team of people around me we were able to successfully put it together,” she said.  

Orange hospital emergency department nursing unit manager Mim Eaton said Mrs Patterson was “the most inspirational and determined director of nursing I’ve ever worked under”.

“I think I’d be incredibly lucky to see someone like her again.

“Don’t get me wrong we have incredible staff and amazing people we work for but Sue was one of a kind, someone it came incredibly naturally to.

“We’re so so sad to see her go.

“Sue was present on the floor, she did rounds, she spoke to everyone, she knew everybody by name and you could always approach her, it didn’t matter what for, she’d always be helpful.”

Orange hospital managing director Catherine Nowlan said Mrs Patterson was “critical” in developing the new hospital, and on behalf of everyone at the hospital – staff, volunteers and patients – wanted to thank her and wish her all the best.