Susan Radcliffe

“I’m so proud when my patients tell me, ‘you never sit down.’”

We talked with Susan Radcliffe, Technician, who has been with CDC for 34 years. Susan reflects on her more than three decades at CDC — from what she’s learned about reading patients to sharing advice for incoming CDC staff. We also learned about the love of Susan’s life — her grandson, Waylon.

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Tell us a little about yourself and how you started at CDC.

I answered a want ad in the newspaper for a part-time Tech Assistant position. And I got it. I was like most people; I didn’t know anything about hemodialysis, but I watched and learned as much as I could. I became good friends with one of the technicians, Cheri. She was the one that talked me into applying to become a tech, and once hired, Cheri was my biggest supporter. Without her, I may not have stayed. To this day she still tells me, “I told you that you could do it.” I have 2 children, Jennifer and Philip, and — the love of my life — my grandson, Waylon.

How has your career evolved since the time you started?

I started at the Mentor Unit as Tech Assistant, Technician, ACT Advanced Certified Technician, Tech Supervisor. Then 19 years ago, I moved to the Euclid Unit. I call them my work family.

Over the course of 34 years at CDC, what is one of your professional accomplishments you are most proud of?

How I’ve learned to tell if something is going to happen to a patient by the way they look. Then start the necessary treatment. I keep a very close eye on my patients and alarms. I’m so proud when my patients tell me, “you never sit down.”

What attracted you to CDC, and what has kept you here for more than three decades?

When I started CDC only had 2 units, Cleveland and Mentor. Our CEO Diane Wish would visit the Mentor Unit often. One day I asked Diane if there was a way to get medical coverage for my children, who were 4 and 1 at the time. I was only a part-time technician at 28 hours/week. I was going through a divorce and my ex would not be providing coverage. Diane agreed if I promised to work extra… to make up for the 2 hours [that would qualify employees for healthcare coverage]. I did become full time. I always thought she was keeping track of my promise, only to discover she wasn’t. Several years ago, when I brought it up to her, she couldn’t remember it. That’s the main reason l have stayed at CDC. Compassion was in the air. Back then it was different than the way other dialysis providers functioned. We had cloth sheets and thick blankets. CDC started art and music therapy and Bingo games (which the patients still miss). Of course, over time, CDC grew, and things changed. So far, the art therapy still continues, and I’ve heard some units still have the music therapy. A patient told me many years ago that she did not like coming to dialysis, but she knew the staff liked to laugh and make the area fun, so she came. And the son of a patient came in to thank each of us for giving him 7 more years with his dad. Yes, I get a paycheck, but I get much more than money.

What advice do you have for new CDC employees?

Yes, the job is stressful and tough, but don’t give up. Rely on your fellow coworkers; they understand what you’re going through. I always hear, “you make it look easy.” Remember, in time you will, too. Everyone has bad days.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Knitting and spending time with my grandson, Waylon — going to his hockey and baseball games.

What is one thing your coworkers might not know about you?

I love to travel. I’ve been to Northern Ireland, Amsterdam, Iceland, Austria and Germany (where I visited the town my great great grandparents grew up in).