Susan Gador: Caring for trauma patients the Filipino nurse’s way

Past president of the Philippine Nurses Association of New York

Past president of the Philippine Nurses Association of New York

By Maricar CP Hampton

For Susan Anabelle Gador, a well-rounded nursing career spanning 28 years, has been, for the most part, one pretty quiet life. Except when the extreme pain crisis among her patients occurs, then the storm can happen before the calm.

“Little that I know that I will get used to the ambulance and police siren living in the previous housing building of one of the trauma hospital in Brooklyn,” said Susan, a pain specialist, with lighthearted humor.

At the hospital’s Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care, Susan provides post-operative pain management to patients with complicated cases, assists in pain management research trials, and supervises physicians and other healthcare practitioners, among her many specialized duties.

“Having worked in one of the respected trauma hospitals in New York, I consider myself fortunate to have been afforded with such great experience,” Susan told The FilAm in an interview.

She was a nurse in the recovery room at the Philippine Heart Center for Asia when hired by the Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn in 1986. With her excellent cardiothoracic and neurosurgical nursing training in the Philippines, Susan was able to adjust and work well with challenging and critically-ill trauma and other surgical patients. Her employment with Beth Israel began in 2002. Today, she is one of its high-ranking nursing officials, a role model for quality and nurturing health care for which Filipino nurses are world-famous.

The daughter of a nurse, Susan said she observed her mother at work in Bacolod Provincial Hospital, where she was the head nurse. “The caring and nurturing values of a nurse had touched my mind and soul to be a nurse. My inspiration is my mother,” she said.

Born and raised in Bacolod City, discipline has been an early part of Susan’s upbringing. Her father was a military man who sent his seven children to Chinese school. Her parents are not of Chinese descent, but they valued the training and discipline in a Chinese primary school.

“Growing up, I have learned to speak English, Tagalog, Chinese, Spanish and the local dialect, Ilonggo,” she said. Two of her sisters are also nurses and all her siblings are accomplished professionals.

Education, no matter how long it takes, will always important, she asserted, seeming to dispute some politicians who sweepingly dismiss nurses as professionals with little ambition but to become “room nurses.” But education alone is not enough, she said. “Skills, personality and humanness also count.”

Although nursing jobs in the U.S. are becoming scarce due to a system that allocates visas to select countries, including the Philippines, Susan urged graduates to stay positive.

“There are still job opportunities for Filipino nurses to work abroad as long as you are well educated, credentialed and experienced,” she said.

Susan’s term as president of the Philippine Nurses Association of New York may have expired last year but she continues to be involved with the group’s many activities. One of the initiatives is the Susan Gador Mentorship Program for Filipino-American nurses. The program is still being worked out, and an announcement will be made in the Fall.

A sports and health enthusiast, Susan said she’s lived an active athletic life from the time she was a young girl studying at the Chinese school. But age has been telling her to slow down a bit.

“Through the years of sports my body had sustained many injuries that in the last five years I am now suffering with chronic pains. I do my best to keep up with my simple routine exercises so as to be not dependent on pain medications,” she said.

Traveling to social functions and professional events keeps her on her toes. Susan loves to cook and eat healthy food.

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