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Four decades of caring for her community

Nursing professional Lorraine O’Sullivan is celebrating her 40th year at Tumut Hospital, clocking in 44 years working in health in total.

After four decades, Lorraine said that being able to provide for the community she was born and raised in is what keeps her looking forward to going into work.

“It’s a very rewarding job. Sometimes it can be sad, it can be happy, it can be challenging, but at the end it’s always very rewarding – to see the appreciation on people’s faces for the care that’s been provided,” she said.

“You come to do the best job you can and to do no harm to anyone. I think that’s what I’ve really enjoyed about it, to be able to feel like you’re making a difference. I’ve provided the Tumut community with care for forty years.”

“There honestly isn’t anything I dislike about my job. In more recent times there’s a lot more paperwork, in my earlier days there was night duty … but these are just things that you have to do and we just did it!”

Lorraine has worked in a range of roles across her time at the Tumut Hospital, from the high-pressure drama of the Emergency Department all the way through to management. She says that it’s the changing nature of her work that keeps her on her toes.

“It’s so diverse that it’s impossible to get bored,” she said. “Every day is different and I’ve loved every second of it. Not many people can go into a job and keep enjoying it, but I did.”

Tumut Hospital Nursing Unit Manager Narelle McKenzie says that while Lorraine always provides excellent care, it was during the 1991 Talbingo bus crash that she excelled as a leader.

That accident saw 26 people injured, with fortunately no fatalities, and led to the hospital developing vital processes for dealing with multi-casualty emergencies.

“She was called in and she was considered the top person working, working with the most injured and unwell people before they were transferred out. It was all about her expertise on the day,” Narelle said.

“She was on the working party for [developing strategies afterwards], and really gave the district a strong platform to work from.”

“She’s always a professional. She’s got a wealth of knowledge, she’s very strategic; she plans everything really well and she makes sure she looks at the whole picture and doesn’t leave any gaps. It makes her easy to work with because you always know the direction you’re going in. She looks at the problem or issue, looks at all the possibilities, and goes from there. She’s very professional and very committed.”

“She has the respect of doctors and nurses, she’s worked with many over the years. If anyone hears the name Lorraine O’Sullivan, they know her – ‘oh, she’s a great manager, great clinician.’ All of her colleagues are honoured that we’ve had the opportunity to work with her and learn from her.”

As for what’s next, Lorraine isn’t planning on slowing down. She doesn’t have any concrete plans to retire, but she’s already brainstorming ways to keep herself busy when that day comes. She’s considering taking a leaf out of the kids’ book to take some time off – without saying goodbye to the job she loves entirely.

“I want to have a gap year – like these high school kids have before they start university! I’d like to take a gap year before I retire,” she said.

“I’ve got a caravan. I’d like to go on a little holiday and see a bit more of Australia,” she said. “I’m going to continue spoiling my grandchildren, do some work in the garden, do some walking, maybe go back to the gym…I’ve worked for 44 years full time, and I don’t actually know what it’s like to have time to myself!”