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