‘I’ve loved it to the end’: Dr Day retires after 40 years
GYMPIE’S longest serving GP, Dr Rod Day, will retire from medicine at the end of this year.
It has been a decision not easily made, but one he is now very happy with.
On his last day of practice in mid-December it will be 40 years - almost to the day - since he joined Dr Stan Green, Dr Walker and Dr Bryce at their practice at 11A Channon Street.
He jokes that being a Type A personality he is quite pleased that December 17 will indeed be as close as you can get to exactly 40 years.
It has been a busy life and a fulfilling career, but now is the time for family, travel and outdoor persuits like canoeing, something this doctor loves doing, especially on the beautiful Mary River.
He and his wife Janelle have four children and 10 grandchildren, and after having devoted most of his life to the calling that is medicine, now is the time for other things while still youngish and fit.
“To be frank it was not an easy decision. I am very fortunate that I have thoroughly enjoyed my choice of career. But I am still well enough to do a lot of the things I would love to do, plus, it’s time to give Janelle a bit more of my time. I look forward to the freedom to act and make other decisions.”
One of many achievements in the past 40 years was being somewhat of a trailblazer in schools and corporate immunity, working with the Gympie and Widgee Shire Councils to set up school immunisation programs before the State Government got on board, and then initiating a local corporate immunisation program as well.
Dr Day’s first decade in Gympie was at the practice known as Drs Green, Walker Bryce and Day; the name was changed to Channon Street Medical Centre when Dr Walker retired.
When he started on January 2, 1981, Dr Day became Gympie’s ninth GP, and he was invited to join the Channon Street practice by Dr Green, his childhood GP who became a mentor to him.
Rod grew up in Gympie and did all his schooling here - primary school at Central and high school at Gympie State High.
After graduating from the University of Queensland he spent a year at Bundaberg base Hospital before moving to Biggenden as medical superintendent of the Biggenden Hospital with the right of private practice.
It was while in Biggenden that he married Janelle, who also grew up in Gympie and did her nursing training at the Gympie Hospital and graduated as an RN before getting married.
“On reflection, over the past 40 years a lot has changed medically in Gympie,” Dr Day said.
When he first started in Gympie there were three private hospitals: Lister Hospital which was transitioning to a nursing home, Glandore Private Hospital in O’Connell St, and the two levels of the Dunstan Wing of the Gympie Hospital.
Gympie Hospital at that stage was a 250-bed facility and the patients were looked after by two hospital doctors, the medical superintendent and a resident doctor as well as Gympie’s nine private GPs.
All of the surgery and obstetrics was done by the GPs as was all the anaesthetics. More than 50 per cent of the obstetrics was done by the GPs in that early stage; a percentage which slowly dropped to nil over the next few decades as GP practice and public hospital practice changed slowly for many reasons.
There are now more than 50 GPs in Gympie and about the same number of doctors who work at the Gympie Hospital.
In 2001, after 20 years at 11A Channon St, the Channon Street Medical Centre moved to the newly constructed Marketplace Shopping Centre in Reef St, which at that stage was Franklin’s Supermarket.
“I have had a very fortunate career over my 40 years in Gympie with a great mentor like Dr Green and great partners in Drs Green, Walker and Bryce in my early years, and Drs Black, Pienaar and Davis over the past 20 years.
“I have enjoyed the camaraderie of the doctors in the other practices in Gympie. There has always been a very co-operative spirit amongst the Gympie GPs, which also says a lot about the Gympie community.
“There have been some very disappointing times as well with the slow demise of GP generalist procedures, the diminished after hours GP service and the recent closure of Gympie’s private hospital, but in general, access to GP services in Gympie and quality of our allied health services in Gympie practices and at the Gympie General Hospital and Little Haven Palliative Care are extremely good for a country city.
“Gympie is in safe hands medically.
“My most precious memories however are the many long term relationships I’ve been privileged to have with my many patients over the years, from the babies I’ve delivered, the families I’ve cared for, right up to the aged care that is so relevant and vital in Gympie.
“I will miss the patient contact but have been truly fortunate to have had a career that I have loved to the end.
“Janelle and I will continue to live in Gympie our home. We’re looking forward to spending more free time together at home, traveling and spending time with our four married children and families and a growing number of grandchildren.”