Proof that life is bittersweet has been in full evidence recently, as Michelle Craine, long-time Director of Nursing at Sydney’s Lady Davidson Private Hospital, was honoured by the RSL for her lifetime of work with Veterans and War Widows, just days before her own life came to a premature close after a brief period of ill health.
The National Executive of the RSL awarded Michelle its highest civilian honour, the Certificate of Merit and Gold Badge Award, for her tireless efforts on behalf of the Veteran community over her years at both Concord Hospital and for the past 22 years at Lady Davidson.
Her nursing career began in 1963, when she was just 17. Michelle moved from her home in Newcastle to Sydney in order to commence her nursing training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, a challenge she handled with a wisdom and maturity beyond her years – qualities that would come to define her to many colleagues. During those formative, early years at RPA, she made several friendships that were to last a lifetime.
Michelle began working full-time at Concord in 1978, which she loved and where she remained for the next 10 years until 1988, when she embarked on her career at Lady Davidson.
It was with her significant tenure at Lady Davidson that Michelle truly found her calling. After starting out as Bed Manager, she soon moved into the Deputy Director of Nursing role before becoming Director of Nursing in 1991. She then further completed her Master’s Degree in Health Management, from which she graduated in 1992 with a Distinction.
Michelle had a deep love and respect for those who gave their life for our country and she ensured the hospital celebrated and remembered the important days of Anzac Day, Remembrance Day, and the commemoration of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux and the Battle of Long Tan. Never was that more evident than during the 1994 bushfires when, with the lives of over 200 Veterans at risk, Michelle worked around the clock to ensure the safe evacuation of patients.
As friends and colleagues described Michelle, the very high regard and esteem in which she was held shone through, as time and time again they would recall her grace, wisdom and good humour.
She was the person everyone rallied around in times of trouble; in turbulent times, those around her knew they could always turn to her when they needed guidance, genuine care and a courageous leader.
Healthscope CEO Bruce Dixon paid tribute to Michelle, thanking her for her outstanding contribution and excellent work and loyalty at Lady Davidson and for the thousands of patients she helped, and for her contribution to the wider community in general.
Lady Davidson General Manager Cheryl Jaeschke said the hospital would be left with memories of Michelle’s personal strength, experience and wisdom, her dignity, her dynamic management style and clinical skills, but above all, her delightfully warm and caring personality and the friendships, which grew over many years.
Michelle had a quiet personality and wasn’t much fussed on being the centre of attention, but also knew how to let her hair down with her loved ones. She was funny, even more so during her last weeks, never being short of a quip or a one-liner during these most difficult of times.
Her bravery, grace and dignity throughout this time was truly honourable.
Michelle touched many people’s lives and will be missed more than she could imagine.
By Virginia Edwards,
Lady Davidson Private Hospital.
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