Time to re­flect

Dr. Herb Dick­ieson leav­ing 29-year med­i­cal ca­reer to fo­cus on his health, fam­ily

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY ERIC MC­CARTHY

Since tak­ing leave from his med­i­cal prac­tice in Jan­uary, Dr. Herb Dick­ieson says he has lost nearly 30 pounds and is com­mit­ted to shed­ding 20 more.

“I’m now prac­tis­ing what I’ve been preach­ing the past three decades and liv­ing healthy and get­ting ex­er­cise,” he said Tues­day af­ter ped­alling to an in­ter­view on a tan­dem bike with his daugh­ter, Alexan­dra.

Dick­ieson no­ti­fied staff at the O’Leary Health Cen­tre last week that he is retiring from his po­si­tion ef­fec­tive Sept. 15. He will re­main on leave as he pre­pares for the of­fi­cial re­tire­ment date.

Dur­ing his leave, which he said was prompted by health con­cerns, Dick­ieson said he has been re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal at­ten­tion and tak­ing time to re­flect.

“We thought, maybe it’s time,” he said af­ter dis­cus­sions with his wife, Kathleen, and their three adult chil­dren.

Dick­ieson’s in­ter­est in medicine was piqued in 1972 while serv­ing as a med­i­cal as­sis­tant with the Cana­dian Armed Forces. He grad­u­ated from med­i­cal school in 1987 and ac­cepted an in­vi­ta­tion from Dr. Ed Pineau in 1988 to join him and Dr. Charles De­war at the newly opened Beech­wood Health Cen­tre in O’Leary, jump­ing at the chance to re­al­ize his de­sire of work­ing in a ru­ral prac­tice. He has also worked at Western and Ste­wart Memo­rial hos­pi­tals and at the Len­nox Is­land Health Cen­tre.

Dur­ing his med­i­cal ca­reer, he served terms as chief of the O’Leary med­i­cal staff, chair­man of the West Prince med­i­cal staff and pres­i­dent of the Med­i­cal So­ci­ety of P.E.I.

He was not in O’Leary long be­fore tak­ing on an ac­tivist role, start­ing with a cam­paign to re­sist fed­eral Con­ser­va­tives’ ef­forts to close ru­ral post of­fices and ex­tend­ing to other causes in­clud­ing protest­ing health­care cuts.

In 1996 he be­came the first Is­land New Demo­crat to be elected to the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture, and he also served as party leader.

“It’s been a won­der­ful com­mu­nity to work with and to work for,” he said.

Dick­ieson’s up­com­ing res­ig­na­tion will bring to three the num­ber of va­can­cies in the re­gion’s com­ple­ment of 12 physi­cians. Hav­ing been ac­tive in re­cruit­ment ef­forts in the past, he is hope­ful his po­si­tion can be filled soon.

“I would cer­tainly say to any po­ten­tial physi­cian com­ing to West Prince, it is a won­der­ful place to work and I would cer­tainly en­cour­age it,” said Dick­ieson. “It’s a great place for new physi­cians.

“I am so grate­ful to the peo­ple of West Prince for the won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity that I’ve had to work and live here as a physi­cian. It was a special bonus hav­ing them elect me to rep­re­sent them in the leg­is­la­ture. It’s been a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.”

He ex­pressed con­fi­dence that ef­forts to main­tain and ex­pand health-care ser­vices in the re­gion will con­tinue.

Dick­ieson said he is still re­view­ing his op­tions as to what the fu­ture might hold for him. In the mean­time, he has been cut­ting his lawn reg­u­larly, some­thing he did only once dur­ing his med­i­cal prac­tice.

While ad­mit­ting he is still smit­ten with pol­i­tics, he is non­com­mit­tal on what the fu­ture holds in that re­gard.

“That’s not a thought on my mind right now,” he said when asked if he is con­sid­er­ing an­other po­lit­i­cal run. “My fo­cus now is stay­ing in good health and en­joy­ing time with my fam­ily.”

ERIC MC­CARTHY/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Dr. Herb Dick­ieson and his daugh­ter, Alexan­dra, de­part from an in­ter­view Tues­day on a tan­dem bi­cy­cle. His cur­rent leave, he said, has af­forded him more time to fo­cus on his per­sonal health. He’s retiring from the O’Leary Health Cen­tre in Septem­ber.

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