Doc­tors are in the house

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By PET­RICE TARRANT

Loyal pa­tients Denise and Lewis France are fol­low­ing their doc­tor of 35 years to the new Toko­roa Med­i­cal Cen­tre.

Doc­tor Ian Kirkby is one of seven gen­eral prac­ti­tion­ers who will work out of the new fa­cil­ity which of­fi­cially opened on Mon­day.

Dr Kirkby’s pa­tients can rest as­sured that while the sur­round­ings may ap­pear un­fa­mil­iar, the doc­tor see­ing them won’t be.

The huge project saw three pop­u­lar med­i­cal cen­tres merge un­der the roof of Toko­roa Hos­pi­tal’s old Ward 3.

New walls, new colours and new fur­ni­ture have trans­formed the build­ing.

As Mr France toured the new premises he found it hard to pic­ture the old ward he stayed in for three weeks dur­ing 1988.

‘‘It’s just com­pletely changed, you wouldn’t think it’s the same place.’’

But while spec­tac­u­lar, it is not the ren­o­va­tions that are keep­ing the France fam­ily loyal.

The cou­ple moved to Toko­roa in 1977 and within two years they were un­der the watch­ful eye of Dr Kirkby.

‘‘ He is amaz­ing, we’ve been through our ups and downs and he’s al­ways been there,’’ Mrs France said

Her big­gest fear was that she would lose that in the new model of care that has been em­braced.

‘‘We were ap­pre­hen­sive,’’ she said.

‘‘When you’ve got your own doc­tor it’s like you don’t have to keep ex­plain­ing your­self.’’

As two of his long­est-stand­ing pa­tients, Dr Kirkby knows the cou­ple very well.

The ded­i­cated GP said the aim is to keep that con­sis­tency where pos­si­ble.

‘‘It will be dif­fer­ent . . . But at the end of the day pa­tients will walk in to the consult rooms and in­ter­act with their doc­tor, that’s not go­ing to change, it’s just how they get there. But we think it will be more ef­fi­cient.’’

He said there may be times when a pa­tient’s fam­ily doc­tor is un­avail­able.

‘‘They will have to as­sess if it’s some­thing where they can wait for their doc­tor or if they need to book in ear­lier with some­one dif­fer­ent.’’

The fa­ther of four moved to the grow­ing tim­ber town in 1977 with ev­ery in­ten­tion of stay­ing.

Af­ter a three-month locum stint he formed a part­ner­ship with Dr Ralph Wiles and Dr David Scott and in 1981 moved into the then state of the art Medi­Cen­tre.

Things have a lot changed since with the hard­est for Dr Kirkby be­ing the end of GPs’ roles in ob­stet­rics and anaes­thet­ics.

‘‘For me what I miss from gen­eral prac­tice is that I don’t do as many prac­ti­cal things with our pa­tients . . . to some ex­tent GPs have got a lot more in­volved in so­cial work.’’

Rev­erend Ngira Sim­monds blesses the newly re­fur­bished build­ing.

Hold­ing strong: Doc­tor Ian Kirkby, cen­tre, will still be see­ing his long­stand­ing pa­tients such as Lewis and Denise France de­spite the big move.

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