‘Itchy feet’ doc­tor finds firm ground

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

‘‘I grew up in Dublin and as well as train­ing there I worked as in in­tern 100 hours plus a week. I didn't have much of a life out­side of work.’’

Doc­tor Gil­lian Kearon only meant to be in New Zealand for a year.

But not only has the 34-year-old gen­eral prac­ti­tioner been liv­ing in the coun­try for 10 years, the past 10 months in Cromwell, she be­came a cit­i­zen in De­cem­ber.

The Dublin-born GP moved to Cromwell in Fe­bru­ary with her part­ner and his two chil­dren, af­ter get­ting ‘‘itchy feet’’.

‘‘Cen­tral Otago is awe­some. When you come as a for­eigner to New Zealand you hear about par­tic­u­lar places at­trac­tive to live in. Nel­son is on that list, and so is Cen­tral Otago.

‘‘When I lived in Nel­son, I used to come to Queenstown to go ski­ing and take ad­ven­tures to Cen­tral Otago and loved it. My part- ner is Ir­ish and has two sons at Cromwell Col­lege and just fin­ished a stone­ma­son’s course. He be­came a cit­i­zen in 2012. It was a log­i­cal next step to be­come a cit­i­zen. I am just so lucky. I sup­pose it doesn’t make much dif­fer­ence, but it is an hon­our and a priv­i­lege. It’s nice.’’

She worked at Junc­tion Health in Cromwell - which was vastly dif­fer­ent to work back in Ire­land.

‘‘I grew up in Dublin and as well as train­ing there I worked as in in­tern 100 hours plus a week. I didn’t have much of a life out­side of work.

‘‘I con­tacted a friend in New Zealand who is also a doc­tor who said, ‘I only work 50 hours a week’. I only planned to come for a year but I loved it. New Zealand has been so wel­com­ing and it is an ab­so­lute plea­sure to work here. The sum­mers are great too. I like the heat. It’s just a great out­doors life and nice healthy en­vi­ron­ment for the kids. I also like the prox­im­ity to Wanaka and Queenstown.

‘‘In Ire­land it seems like a rat race. I al­ways get itchy feet and worked as a GP locum mov­ing around a lot. It’s nice to be in a job that is more per­ma­nent.’’

New Zealand’s health sys­tem, de­spite it’s flaws, was ‘‘quite fair’’.

‘‘In Ire­land there is a huge di­vide be­tween peo­ple who pay noth­ing and peo­ple who pay huge amounts for health care. Every­one in Ire­land has to have health in­sur­ance. The pub­lic health sys­tem does look af­ter peo­ple pretty well here.’’

The big­gest chal­lenge in Cen­tral Otago was ac­cess, be­cause it was so far from Dunedin, she said.

‘‘As a ru­ral GP in Cromwell I deal with a lot more than an ur­ban GP - which is why I like liv­ing in Cromwell, be­cause of those chal­lenges.’’

She had mixed opin­ions about the af­ter-hours GP ser­vice in Cen­tral Otago - the ser­vice in­volv­ing Cromwell, Alexan­dra and Roxburgh that started in 2015.

‘‘It is good for every­one else ex­cept Cromwell be­cause of the prox­im­ity. We are based in Clyde which is clearly not in the mid­dle (of Alexan­dra and Cromwell).

‘‘Alexan­dra is a more of a hub of more qual­i­fied peo­ple...There is no emer­gency depart­ment here so GPs and am­bu­lance have to work closely to­gether.’’

JO MCKENZIEMCLEAN

Doc­tor Gil­lian Kearon, who hails from Ire­land, has made Cromwell her home.

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