Beloved doctor retires after 31 years of compassionate care
FOR about five years in the early 2000s, Lismore doctor David Kerle was the town's only urologist, and worked around the clock.
He arrived in 1988 and for the next three decades, the surgeon performed countless procedures in Lismore, helping many ailing folks feel better and along the way earning and maintaining the love and respect of hundreds of patients and colleagues.
Now the much-respected senior specialist is retiring from private practice after 31 years.
He spent his last day working at The Gatehouse on Dalley St yesterday.
He looked around his office, with numerous certificates decorating the walls, and 3D diagrams of bladders, prostates and kidneys littered across multiple surfaces, and said to his colleague, Dr Lisa Osgood, he was glad to be leaving the practice in such capable hands.
Dr Osgood said: "Everywhere you go, everyone knows Dr Kerle".
"It's a great privilege to be involved in medicine and looking after people when they're vulnerable and sick," Dr Kerle said.
"The nurses, the cleaners, people in the kitchen, it's just one big family and you know so many people. That's what I've loved so much about it.
"And everyone is working towards one purpose - to look after people."
He started training in urology in 1982, and has celebrated 31 years working in Lismore, but his association with the town goes back a lot longer.
"My father was here as an engineer and before that my forebears were engineers and they actually constructed the railway from Lismore to Booyong.
"When I was at university and my father was here I'd come up here on holidays and to surf at Byron and I thought, 'I'll just flag this place as a place to come back to'."
Dr Osgood said she had had a nine year overlap working with Dr Kerle since she started at the clinic in 2010.
"You couldn't want a better mentor than Dr Kerle. He's so patient and kind," she said.
"When Dr Kerle got here there was one urologist who arrived in 1975.
"From 2004 Dr Kerle did everything for the whole town from 2004 to about 2009.
"He was on-call 24 hours a day for years as the only urologist and operated every Friday at the Lismore Base Hospital."
Dr Kerle said the development of the Lismore Base Hospital and the opening of the extension were highlights in his health career in Lismore.
He said since he started in 1975 technology had dramatically changed.
"One of the main areas we deal with is kidney stones and back in those days and as late as the early 90's we were making (big cuts) in somebody's side to get a stone out where as now it's done with no incisions.
"Laser technology in urology has been uppermost, particularly in Lismore. We use laser for kidney stones, bladder stones, stones of all shapes and sizes...and also for removing the prostate.
"In the 80s and 90s prostate cancer became more recognised and men started to realise this was a cancer that could be cured. There was a change and we started operating on prostates and removing prostates. That was something we hadn't been trained in and had to learn and so there were some anxious moments."
Dr Osgood said Dr Kerle had always been "enthusiastically looking for new things".
"Dr Kerle and another urologist organised for (laser technology) to come here right at the start when it was coming out so we were the first country centre to get it.
"He would then go out to cities like Brisbane and Canberra and teach them how to do this."
Dr Kerle said during his career there were "little victories along the way that make it sweet".
"The most pleasing thing for me is I'm leaving but there are three other very well trained, competent urologists and another one on the way."
The retiring doctor said he had "mixed feelings" about his career coming to an end.
"I've got plenty of things I can do. I've got some land and I've got some cattle and I've always wanted to be more involved.
"That's one of the things that attracted me to Lismore, the farming community.
"The thing I'm going to miss are the people. Quite often they are patients that keep coming back... and so you develop a relationship and that's the thing that I'll really miss and I've found really sad over the last few weeks, saying goodbye."