In January of 1970, Diana Ross and the Supremes performed their last concert together, and the Beatles had their last recording session. But Suzanne “Sue” Cambre’s nursing career at Piedmont was just beginning.
Now, 43 years later, she’s making another new start as she leaves Piedmont to work in the office of Barry Silverman, M.D. Cambre’s link to Silverman runs deep: She worked for Silverman’s brother, the late Mark Silverman, M.D., for 35 years, while he was chief of cardiology at the Fuqua Heart Center. “Working with Dr. Silverman would be anyone’s dream job, because he was a mentor and a friend and a brilliant teacher,” Cambre said.
But her dedication to Piedmont is just as strong.
“I love Piedmont. It has been like family, and I have always felt very warm and comfortable here,” Cambre said.
Over the years, Cambre worked as Silverman’s nursing colleague, but also cheerfully took on extras – everything from technical training for nurses to editor of the Fuqua Heart Center newsletter. She is the author of several patient education monographs, including “Lady Take Heart,” about women and heart disease, and “Angina Pectoris,” about treatment and prevention of angina. Her monograph “Bouncing Back from a Heart Attack” was also featured briefly in the movie “Something’s Gotta Give,” with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton.
For a time, the monograph she authored titled “The Sensuous Heart,” about sex after a heart attack, attracted callers to Piedmont who asked for “the sex nurse.”
“The subject of sex after a heart attack came up frequently in my patient teaching, but it was always indirect. The booklet gave patients the answers to questions they might have been uncomfortable asking,” Cambre said.
Cambre also taught a class on how to take patient histories to Emory medical students for a number of years. Because of her contributions to the education of medical students, medical residents and cardiac fellows, she was appointed “Instructor in medicine” for the Emory Department of Medicine – the only nurse ever to be so recognized.
Stacie Stepney, continuing education planner at Piedmont Heart Institute, said Cambre is one of the most positive people she has ever known.
“All of her patients love her. Sometimes I think they come to see Sue instead of the doctor,” Stepney said.
Mark Silverman once wrote an essay called “Where is Sue Cambre,” because it was one of the first questions his patients asked.
“I care for my patients,” he said. “Sue worries about them.”
Stepney said that that genuine concern shines through in everything Cambre does. Cambre never forgets a birthday, and frequently checked in on Stepney’s mother while she underwent cancer treatments.
“Regardless of what the situation is, she is a helper. She’s extremely knowledgeable and she’s just a really nice person,” Stepney said.
Cambre plans to work another few years and then retire take classes, write a book and travel. But wherever she goes, she’ll always take Piedmont with her: “There are very strong physicians and fabulous nurses here, and Piedmont will continue to be the flagship hospital of the Southeast. It will always have a special place in my heart.”