A tribute to Bronwyn McFarlane

Today (Jan 6th 2021) I went up to the ward to visit a new patient with Bronwyn, who is in the home straight now to retiring. This was not just a new patient but sadly one of our volunteers who had recently had health challenges and been delivered bad news. In the course of the conversation she said to Bronwyn “do you remember one of your first patients 20 years ago, a young mum with 3 toddlers” (and mentioned the name). Bronwyn not only remembered the patient but also recalled the exact address and said ‘oh you’d be the lovely mother in law who helped out so much”. Indeed she was and in due course she had come to Little Haven as a volunteer to repay the care Bronwyn had provided.

It’s these deep community connections, along with the cheery words Bronwyn had with everyone we met in the hospital that will be so sorely missed. But I notice there’s a lightness in her step now as the time to go approaches and after carrying so many families for so long I know it’s now her time. Time to spend with her family, pursuing her own interests, free of the enormous responsibilities she has carried for so long. It’s been a long time coming ………

Extract from CEO’s AGM report

About 12 months ago Bronwyn (our magnificent Clinical Coordinator) handed me a letter which for a long time I couldn’t bring myself to open—knowing it contained her intended Sept 2020 retirement date, to coincide with the AGM. A long lead in to give us time to prepare ourselves and our service for life without her at the heart of all we do. The thought of Little Haven without Bronwyn was impossible to imagine, but I appreciated that after dedicating herself to us she well deserved to wind down and ebb her way into reclaiming life without Little Haven. 2020 The International Year of the Nurse the perfect setting for the retirement of one of it’s finest.

But 2020 had other plans. Covid, my protracted sick leave and an ever increasing demand for our care put pay to any leisurely letting go and relaxing into retirement for Bronwyn. Instead she was busier than ever, back on the road for much of it (and on the water to care for one of our families moored off TCB), long days juggling clinical care and admin duties, a tired but willing servant as has been the case for 20 + years.

And to stave off the inevitable I kept postponing the AGM – “Covid” I said :), but sadly eventually I had to concede and in November after 21 years Bronwyn deliver her final report as Little Haven’s Clinical Coordinator, winding down her time with us over the next few months.

A huge thank you to Bronwyn for all she’s done and been to Little Haven and the 2141 families she has served. Starting with just her and a few respite volunteers available to a handful of patients 24/7 (let that sink in—one nurse on call 24/7) and growing the clinical team to 9 Nurses, 3 Allied Health and 30 respite volunteers caring 24/7 for 90 patients and 100+ bereaved at any given time. Each and every one of us learning from the best and in awe of her unlimited compassion and love for the families in our care.

For me I’ve been lucky to work beside her for much of that time, and while I still can’t envisage LH without Bronwyn I know her legacy will live on in the wonderful care being delivered by the incredible team she has nurtured and developed.

Bronwyn McFarlane, loyal servant to the dying, we the Gympie community salute you!

Sue Manton CEO

For us Bronwyn will always be the essence of compassion.

In the words of Emily Dickinson:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again
I shall not live in vain.
 (from Part One: Life)

Brandy Murley

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