After more than 26 years working her way through the ranks at Cooinda Aged Care Facility in Coonabarabran, current director of nursing, Sue Stephenson, has made the difficult decision to retire from her “home away from home”.
“I’m going out on a high,” said Mrs Stephenson, referring to Cooinda’s recent $3.8 million funding windfall.
“It brings tears to my eyes to be finishing up, because Cooinda has been a part of my life for so long.
“Fay Alchin has already decided that she’s going to pick me up on Friday afternoons with my bottle of wine so I can come in for Happy Hour!”
Hailing from a family of nurses, Mrs Stephenson completed her nursing registration at Prince Henry, Prince of Wales and Eastern Suburbs Hospitals in Sydney.
Apart from three years attending Baradine Central as a young girl while her father managed “Goorianawa”, she officially relocated to Coonabarabran 45 years ago, after receiving a job offer at the Matron’s Ball by Dr Bullock.
Mrs Stephenson worked at the local medical centre as a registered nurse where she “got to know most of the town”, before commencing duties at Cooinda in February 1991, when her son moved away to boarding school.
She took up the role of deputy director of nursing in 1996, followed by hostel manager in 2001.
Then, in March 2009, she was successful in her application for the director of nursing position.
“That was a big year,” Mrs Stephenson said.
“It was an exciting and challenging time - Merryula opened and I started in my new role.
“There have been some big changes over the years, especially in regards to legislative changes with funding and compliance.
“But I love it. It has been a rewarding career.”
Mrs Stephenson said the residents of Cooinda had become a part of her life, as much as she had become a part of theirs.
“It’s all about the residents and making them happy - if the residents are happy, the staff are happy,” she said.
“I’ve loved my time at Cooinda, and I’m only leaving now because my time has come.
“I can’t wait to help Cooinda in other ways and be a part of watching it grow.
“Cooinda really is a part of Coonabarabran!”
Cooinda Aged Care Facility general manager, Leanne Redfern, pictured with outgoing director of nursing, Sue Stephenson.