St. Claire Regional’s own Susie Halbleib, RN, SCR volunteer and St. Claire Foundation board member, was recently presented the Ora L. Cline Award by the Morehead-Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. The award is presented to caring, supportive community-minded individuals with perseverance and patience who have helped make the community a better place to live, work and visit.
Susie was born in northern Kentucky and spent much of her youth in Louisville, where she attended grade school, and later Ursuline Academy. Upon graduation from the academy, she obtained a degree from Nazareth College and completed her nurse’s training at St. Joseph Infirmary.
In 1947, Susie traveled to Clay County to work as a nurse at Oneida Maternity Hospital, where she served for several months before meeting Dr. Claire Louise Caudill. Susie and Dr. Louise worked together at Oneida for just about three months before they ultimately joined forces and traveled back to Dr. Louise’s hometown of Morehead. The pair spent much of the next decade traveling house to house in Rowan and surrounding counties delivering babies together.
In 1957, Dr. Louise and Susie established their first medical practice, which was comprised of a delivery room and two labor rooms. Then three years later, after much deliberation, they set out on a journey to bring a much-needed hospital to Northeastern Kentucky. After funding for the project and a sponsorship from the Sisters of Notre Dame, Covington, were secured, St. Claire Regional was constructed and officially opened its doors on July 1, 1963.
In 1996, Susie received an honorary doctorate from Morehead State University for her dedicated service to the people of the region. She and Dr. Louise served side-by-side for many years, delivering more than 8,000 babies during their tenure. When asked if she always knew she wanted to go into nursing, Susie said, “Oh yes, I was always going to be a nurse. I said it for so long that I had to do it to save face. Oh, I did everything. I dressed dolls up like nurses. I was always going to be a nurse, and I loved starched white uniforms.” While Susie technically has since retired from St. Claire Regional, she continues to serve as a volunteer and as a member of the St. Claire Foundation Board of Directors to this very day.