Celebrating Sue Alden, RN – 50 Years of Service to Glens Falls Hospital

On April 24th, Glens Falls Hospital had the tremendous privilege of celebrating Snuggery RN Sue Alden’s 50th work anniversary. At a reception in her honor, Nurse Manager Krissy LaFreniere noted that Sue had “touched at least 60,000 families, along with all of our hearts.” It’s clear that Sue has been universally loved by patients and her fellow employees since the very start.

Director of Patient Experience Jason Hare had the opportunity to sit down with Sue to discuss her life and career – including how she’s passed a love and passion for Nursing down through her family.

It’s amazing that you’ve been here 50 years!
It’s actually longer than 50 years! I started in the fall of 1969. I was, at that time, an LPN on 2 North, which was Medicare/Medicaid/geriatric patients. I worked for about a year and a half, and then I had a baby and didn’t come back for three years.

And how did you end up here [in the Snuggery]?
It wasn’t the Snuggery back then; it was just Labor & Delivery and Postpartum. When I came back to work, I was floating for a year and a half as an LPN. My sister Chris worked nights here [in Postpartum]. And her husband went to school in Syracuse, so she left, and they came and asked me if I wanted her job. She [eventually] came back, and we both went back to school while working full time and both graduated with from ACC in 1989 with our RN degree.

So while you were getting your RN degree, you were working full-time and also raising a teenager. How did you balance all of that?
Well, I was born a worker, so all I’ve ever learned to do is work! I have a pretty good work ethic, and I just persevere. You do what you have to do, and if you want it, then you do it.

What do you remember about when you first started on this unit?
Well, 3 South was Postpartum, and 3 North was Labor & Delivery, but I was only there about a week before this new wing [2 West] opened.

So you’ve been close to 50 years in the same physical location. What are some of the biggest changes that you’ve noticed since you’ve started?
Well, of course, when we started with LDRP (Labor, Delivery, Recovery and Postpartum Care) in the same room – we were one of the first hospitals in the area to have an LDRP. And uniforms – it used to be white dresses initially, and then the exciting thing was we were allowed to wear white pantsuits! And then color several years later.

You’ve seen so many patients in your time here. Have you ever had the experience where you’re delivering a baby, and the parent is someone you’ve also delivered?
Oh yeah, for sure! All the time. I think it’s kind of exciting to deliver a second generation!

Thinking back, who are some of the people who you feel have had a particular influence on your career here?
Diane Kerchner – I remember her encouraging me when I was going through school. And Terry Celadon was a big influence on my life. And Gwen Ely, she used to be a Charge Nurse here. She was a very, very lovely lady. Very supportive of her coworkers, always offering encouraging and kind words.

So what’s kept you here all this time?
I’m just a dedicated person. I like dealing with labor and deliveries. I like supporting mothers through their labor process and having a good outcome, with healthy babies. And these mothers really appreciate you if you give them a lot of attention, support them, and let them be a part of decision making and the labor and delivery process.

You’re retiring shortly. What do you think it’s going to be like after 50 years, to not work here anymore?
I’m busy now with a lot of things. I have a house to take care of. I’m from a very big family, and the older members of my family get together and have little music jam sessions. I took up the ukulele. I’m not great at it, but my brothers are all very good with their instruments. So they get together and play, sing, have lunch, and play some more.

You said you’re part of a big family? How many siblings?
I’m one of 18.

Wow. That’s…a lot of kids.
My youngest sister’s younger than my son! So there’s a lot of people to go visit, that’s for sure.

And were you and Chris the only ones to go into Nursing?
Yes, although I have nieces now that are in Nursing. In fact, one of them [Kim McKinney] works here nights as a Labor & Delivery nurse. And she felt I was a big influence in her life because, when she was 12 years old, they had a “Bring Your Daughter to Work” day and I brought her in because I didn’t have a daughter! And that was her dream: to come here and work. And so I think I played a big role in that.

 Let’s say someone is about to start their career in the Snuggery. What kind of advice would you give them?
Give it your all. Do the best you can to support the mother, the baby and the family.