Walking the halls of the Birthplace at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, you’ll notice a captivating portrait of a woman’s profile as she smiles brightly at a newborn baby. The painting is named Hello Sweet Baby, the words that Susan Liddell used to welcome over 2,000 babies into the world. This tribute captures the essence of Susan Liddell’s iconic career in midwifery –25 years providing OB/GYN care to the families of Franklin County and beyond.
Before passing away , Susan made one request to her wife and daughter – to not be forgotten. “She had such an immense impact on this community and the sisterhood of her profession,” recalls Jackie Wisotsky, who wanted a way to honor Susan’s career, life and legacy.
A Lasting Legacy
Today a commemorative sign honoring Susan’s career, life and legacy hangs in the Birthplace outside its newest water birthing room, a project that was funded thanks in large part to the generosity of Susan’s family.
The tribute is fitting, as Susan was a pioneering advocate for water births. Through her work at The Birthplace at Baystate Franklin Medical Center and Pioneer Women’s Health, she established the medical protocols for the birthing technique and inspired a new culture for mothers.
“The impact that Susan had on this community is immeasurable, and the word ‘community’ is far-reaching when we are thinking of her,” says Linda West, nurse manager at the Birthplace. “First there are the mothers and babies that she cared for with equal amounts of compassion and professionalism. Then there is the team here at the Birthplace and Pioneer Women’s, those of us that were able to learn from her and connect with her on so many levels. We all represent the community that Susan impacted, and now that community will continue to grow with each baby born in this room”.
“Susan and I always had the Birthplace in our thoughts when it came to making donations,“ said Jackie. “Making this gift to carry on her memory and everything she embodied was a given for our family.”
Described as a “constant educator,” Susan was passionate about lifelong learning and dedicated to mentoring new midwives. Committed to providing full scope gynecological care, she expanded her skill set to include colposcopy procedures – which examines your cervix, vagina and vulva for signs of disease – a practice that was not common in midwifery and that went far in disease detection and early treatment.
“Working alongside Susan was working in the company of a true professional, educator, leader and caring soul,” describes Linda Jablonksi, assistant nurse manager for the Birthplace. “Over the course of twenty-five years, Susan and I grew a special bond and the time I spent with her both on the floors of our unit and as a friend is invaluable.”
A Caring Team
Jackie is especially thankful for the incredible sisterhood of support shown to her and Susan as Susan went through cancer treatment. “The staff and nurses really helped care for Susan and became our family through their thoughtfulness and support. They were instrumental in Susan being able to continue working as long as she did, and made such a difference in her emotional well-being.”
“I can’t begin to tell you what a great local hospital Baystate Franklin is, and how fortunate we are to have it in our community,” says Jackie, who praises the Birthplace staff for their hard work, talent, and caring. “You’re a real person here. The staff is always welcoming and their teamwork shines through. Susan loved it – her work, her patients and her team.”
To have known Susan Liddell was to know her impact on the women and families of Franklin County. Now, thanks to the generosity of her family and their gift to Baystate Health Foundation in support of the Birthplace, Susan’s passion for the sisterhood of midwifery will carry on for generations – one baby at a time.