Simply the Best
Photography: Courtesy Susie Werner
Susie Werner at the Siem Reap orphanage in 2000. The hospital expats took on a side project of visiting all the orphanages in the area on a regular basis to check on the kids’ health, immunizations, etc. If sick ones were found, they would be taken back to the hospital where they were treated without cost. This orphanage was the only one to take babies and they usually spent their days lying on the tile floor. The young teen orphans would try to take care of them. All the children were starved for attention and care.
I first met Susie Werner, R.N., late at night, while spending a month in St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center in yet another compromised medical quandary.
While she set about McGyvering this latest problem, I inquired as to where she got her combat-ready skills that were as gentle and dignified as they were crafty and practical. She told me a bit about her work in Asia and I told her that I would one day repay her acuity in print, in the pages of this magazine. She laughed a deep and humble laugh and I am sure chalked it up to the sedatives. She continued to do great things while this column was espousing the good deeds of others, never thinking about my promise until now. Like then, when she was told about our interest in noting her this year, she laughed that hearty laugh of humility and disbelief.
Nurse Susie probably won’t even ask when this is to be published because she doesn’t do what she does for the press. I believe she is one of those chosen people who, upon feeling a pull in what may seem like an untenable direction, go nonetheless and go on to great, but largely unheralded, deeds. Sun Valley Magazine is honored to bring her work to the forefront of her home community.
While Cambodia, for many, evokes images of bloated bellies and hopelessness, Susie Werner sees beauty and possibility: Because the thought of children across the globe from the Wood River Valley’s pristine fold being in desperate need of medical care occurred to her as her problem to help fix. Be there one or 100 children with ailments as simple as ear infections or as daunting as tuberculosis in the bones, Susie could not turn away. The result: her efforts in staffing, teaching and supervising with other expats a hospital and outreach program that Cambodian personnel will inherit and run within 10 years. To Susie, $300 a month was too much of a salary compared to the joy she got from meeting the children, getting them healthy and seeing that those who were motherless were adopted and that the unschooled were educated. She is also here for us needing help at St. Luke’s, while continuing to champion and fundraise for the Angkor Hospital for Children and Friends Without A Border and taking off for the Alaskan bush to find others in need.