Doctors are in the house
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.