After 45 years, Methodist RN Susie Crichlow is hanging up her scrubs.
By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist
Susie Crichlow will never forget the elderly patient who came into the emergency department one night decades ago.
The woman was memorable not because of her injury or illness but because of what she was wearing – underneath her clothing.
She had some money tucked away, she told the nurse. “Nobody’s gonna take my money.”
When Crichlow offered to have hospital security hold the money for her, she refused. It wasn’t until the woman’s daughters arrived and persuaded her to put on a hospital gown that the cash was found neatly tucked into her undergarments.
“I thought I was going to fall over,” Crichlow said, laughing as she told the story after her retirement from IU Health Methodist Hospital last week.
Crichlow worked her entire 45-year nursing career at Methodist, nearly all of it in the emergency department. Stories like the one above are legendary in the ED, where humor and heartache are constant companions.
There was sadness, of course. And trauma – whether it was Indy 500 drivers rushed in for treatment after horrifying crashes or the husband of a dear friend dying in the ED.
But what Crichlow remembers most are the friendships that formed.
Many of those friends turned out Thursday for her retirement party, appropriately set up in a room adjacent to the ED, so people could come and go as needed. Crichlow didn’t want a big affair – just some good sandwiches, a white and lemon curd cake and the chance to reminisce with her colleagues.
One of her favorite pictures from the event shows her with Dr. Chuck Shufflebarger, who worked nights in the ED as medical director, and Jack (Skip) Keene. “Three legends,” someone commented.
Crichlow worked nights for more than a dozen years while her kids were young.
“There’s a great camaraderie on nights, and you get to know each other well.”
There were adventures over the years, too.
She recalls working with the late Dr. Henry (Hank) Bock, longtime emergency medicine specialist at Methodist and senior director of medical services for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when he was overseeing the launch of LifeLine in the late 1970s.
Before the first medical flight, Dr. Bock asked Crichlow if she wanted to join him on a practice ride out to Eagle Creek Airport. She said yes and jumped in.
“As soon as we got in the air, all I could think was I have just done the stupidest thing of my life,” Crichlow said. “I have a little girl at home, I am five months pregnant now, and I’m in a helicopter. What if something goes wrong?”
Lucky for everyone, nothing went wrong. “That was an exciting time,” she said.
Her daughters, now grown with kids of their own, were on hand for their mom’s party. But there was someone missing.
The night before her last shift in the hospital that has seen her through so many changes, including a health scare earlier this year, Crichlow admits there were a few tears.
“It didn’t have to do with retirement so much as I wanted my husband there,” she said. “I wanted Doug to be there to see the finish line with me.”
Doug Crichlow, her champion and chief encourager, whom she met while both were students at DePauw University, died 13 years ago.
“He was such a part of my career, I just wanted him there.”
Crichlow’s heart informed her work, her friends say. She was a champion for compassion, according to Linda Rohyans, who worked with Crichlow on the Clinical Informatics team.
“Susie always strove to do her very best in whatever she did, so the patients would receive the best of care and her colleagues would receive encouragement and motivation to provide the best of care.”
Rohyans said when the two began working together, she discovered her new friend’s “passion for life, her love of family, her reverence for her friendships, her drive to do the right thing and to genuinely advocate for those less fortunate,” she said.
“I love Susie, not only for what she has meant in my life, but in the lives of everyone she has touched. We are better people for having her in our lives.”
As Crichlow walked out of the Methodist ED as a nurse for the last time, her girls, Katy and Jenny, recorded a video of their mom saying goodbye. That’s when it became real for her.
“I waved and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really it.’ ”
Tributes to the longtime nurse poured in via Facebook. Following are just a few of those comments:
“Wow, another legacy goes into the sunset of retirement. So happy to have worked with you so many years. Enjoy the future.”
“Congratulations Susie on your years of service and unending dedication to furthering emergency care.”
“So pleased for you and thankful you were there many times to support us when we visited Methodist’s emergency room. I can only guess the number of lives you impacted. Well done.”
“I am a better person because I worked with you.”
“You have been an asset to Methodist Hospital for all these years! No matter what department you’ve been in you have given it your all.”
“I was so very privileged to have worked with you! You took Katie, Teresa and I under your wings as we were new DePauw grads, and you knew just what we were going through! Thank you for all of your years of service, and wishing you much happiness in this next chapter of your life!”