After more than four decades, a longtime Rainy Lake Medical Center employee is ready for the next chapter in her life.

Sue DeBenedet retired Jan. 28, after more than 43 years working for a facility that has naturally become her second home.

And while she retired as the director of patient financial services, or PFS, she has worn many hats and worked in multiple departments within the facility, each with different titles.

“I have worked as a nurse’s aide, as a registrar, an accounts payable clerk, accounting clerk and director of PFS,” Sue said. “Those experiences and interactions molded me in many ways.”

Through her time at Rainy Lake Medical Center, Sue has worked under 16 chief executive officers and 10 chief financial officers, each who brought their own strategies and ideas to the local hospital.

“I have very fond memories of the people I have had the opportunity to work with, many of whom I owe a lot to for giving me chances, education, and support,” Sue said.

Looking back over her career that began while she was still in college in 1978, the advances in technology easily stand out as the biggest change over time. When she first started at the hospital, typewriters were used to gather information and carbon copies were passed to the different departments. The data entry person entered information on a computer that would transfer the data to Fairview in Minneapolis. Every morning, someone drove to the airport to pick up reports submitted on green bar paper.

“It is amazing how things have evolved,” Sue said.

Aside from changes in technology, Sue recalls staff being allowed to smoke cigarettes at their work stations, even the nursery aide desk. When Sue was hired, the facility had 60 beds, and intensive care unit with four beds, a nursery, a labor room and a delivery room. The emergency room was in the basement and the registration area was a small window to an office.

Since then, Sue has seen the facility expand and evolve with the addition of the rural health clinic. Now, she departs in the midst of a pandemic.

“Times are certainly strange,” she said. “Just adds to the long list of changes and experiences.”

Sue spoke highly of Rainy Lake Medical Center and the people who’ve become family over the past 43 years. While she’ll miss interactions with her coworkers and friends, she admits she won’t miss passwords and federal regulations.

“My husband and I will do some traveling and spend time at the cabin,” Sue said. “I can make plans and they won’t have to be on a weekend.”