11 January 2024
Grampians Health cancer nurse Wendy Sleep has celebrated a very unique milestone.
Wendy has devoted 50 years of unwavering service to Wimmera Base Hospital and Wimmera Cancer Centre and has now decided it is time to step away from her role.
A dedicated nurse, she started at Wimmera Base Hospital in January 1971 as a ‘canary’ trainee nurse in the midwifery ward.
“I’ve seen many significant changes to nursing on my career, including a new hospital and the inclusion of the Alan Wolff Medical Centre but for me it has been the opening of the Wimmera Cancer Centre,” Wendy said.
“Back when I was working in the Intensive Care Unit, both my husband Greg and my sister became ill with cancer and passed away in their 30’s. So when Wimmera Base Hospital added an Oncology Unit to its Acute Care Services at the turn of the century, I asked to be included in the team.”
Wendy knew how difficult it had been for Greg, often having to travel to Ballarat, Geelong or Melbourne for services or treatment.
By 2003, the hospital had its own dedicated oncology ward and Wendy had a regular role there. In early 2019 when Wimmera Cancer Centre opened, she was immediately on board.
Cancer Centre manager Carmel O’Kane said every hospital ward needed a ‘Wendy’.
“I guess most of them usually have that nurse that just brightens everyone’s day, but Wendy has been very special to us,” Carmel said.
“She has just been a constant breath of fresh air and every week she had a different hat on. They were always bright and colourful, always a bit of fun and they usually included a message significant to the particular week or month.”
Grampians Health recently recognised Wendy’s service with a special award and she was inducted as a Life Governor by board chair Bill Brown at the recent AGM.
“Our people are our most valuable asset at Grampians Health, and it gives us immense pleasure to celebrate them. We thank Wendy for her remarkable and dedicated years of service and for transforming the lives of so many people through her work,” said Claire Woods, Chief People Officer, Grampians Health.
Wendy has no plans of slowing down in retirement and plans to continue devoting her time to the community as a volunteer.
“I’ve always enjoyed making people smile and I want to continue doing that,” Wendy said.