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Elizabeth Cheney Suddaby, Class of 1972, Inducted 2009

Never doubt the influence a book can have on a child. In 4th grade at Mott Road Elementary School, Beth Cheney purchased a copy of Cherry Ames Student Nurse by Helen Wells at the school book fair, and her sights were set. She wanted to become a nurse.

Growing up in Fayetteville, she gained valuable lessons of preparedness through involvement in Explorer Posts and Girl Scouting. So it is no surprise that taking advance placement biology and studying the human body in high school with biology teacher Mr. Petty cemented her decision to pursue a nursing career.

Upon completing a B.S.N. at Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical School of Virginia Suddaby entered the work force as a staff nurse in an adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU). A transfer into the pediatric ICU exposed her to the segment of the medical world where she would find her niche.

While many medical staff working in critical care units thrive on the adrenaline rush of saving lives in traumatic situations, it was the hope that children could live and fulfill their dreams which captured Suddaby’s heart and became her life’s work.

Returning to earn an M.S.N. in the clinical area of Family-Child Care from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Suddaby focused on education. Her longstanding commitment to her field is evidenced by the number of in-hospital training programs, clinical research studies, and family support programs which Suddaby has developed and implemented over the years at various children’s medical facilities in the Washington, D.C. area.

Her work has led to the publication of many articles in respected pediatric periodicals such as
Pediatric Nursing, Journal of School Nursing, and Journal of Transplant Coordination among others, along with frequent educational presentations at teaching facilities.

Suddaby’s evolution in pediatric cardiac care eventually led into the world of transplants at home and abroad. In 1992, Suddaby joined the Por Cristo Cardiovascular team on a medical mission to Ecuador. This would be the first of many such missions.

The group with which she has aligned her talents steps beyond the traditional scope of pediatric cardiac care by providing an educational and teaching approach for surgeons, cardiologists, and nurses so they may continue the much needed work in communities throughout Ecuador. Suddaby admits that she has gained as much from her travels in the way of learning and friendships as she has given on these missions.

As the Pediatric Cardiovascular Clinical Nurse Specialist with Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children in northern Virginia, Suddaby no longer is directly involved in regular transplant work, but focuses on pediatric congenital heart disease.

She is most proud of her achievements when she sees former patients at the annual cardiac picnic she has organized for years. These children who received heart transplants as infants are now entering high school and fulfilling their own dreams.

She reflects, "I’m the glue that holds our cardiac program together by providing the care and continuing relationship with families dealing with congenital heart disease." That’s exactly what a good nurse does, and Suddaby does exceptionally well.

Beyond reading, birding, gardening, and traveling extensively around the world, Suddaby is an avid quilter. She stitches traditional quilts and artistic wall hangings for her 18 nieces and nephews in addition to working with a guild to provide blankets for charity causes. Although Suddaby and her husband Steve have been residents of Virginia for over 30 years, her mother and one brother reside in Fayetteville, and another brother in Chittenango.

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