Photo es­say

go! Platteland - - CONTENTS -

The life of a coun­try doc­tor who still makes house calls

When you’re a GP prac­tis­ing in the plat­te­land, your life is quite dif­fer­ent to that of your peers in the city. Pho­tog­ra­pher Sam Rein­ders doc­u­mented the life of Prince Al­bert’s doc­tor.

Like so many other pro­fes­sion­als his age, Pete Rein­ders dreamt – for years – of mov­ing to a small town, of opt­ing out, of breath­ing out. It took some years (mostly wait­ing pa­tiently for his chil­dren to fly the coop) but in 2004 the dream fi­nally be­came a re­al­ity and he moved to Prince Al­bert in the Ka­roo. Life in the fast-paced city is now firmly in his rear-view mir­ror. And he’s not turn­ing around.

Pete is not just any plat­te­lander, though. He is also my fa­ther. Th­ese pho­tos are a re­sult of years of watch­ing proudly as he and my mother Megan have ad­justed to a new life in the Ka­roo.

Mov­ing to Prince Al­bert was never a re­tire­ment plan. It can be ar­gued that he’s busier now than he ever was at his city prac­tice. But it’s a dif­fer­ent kind of busy. There is a hap­pi­ness that em­anates from him as he goes about his work and life.

When I asked him to an­swer a few ques­tions about th­ese photographs, he chat­ted so long my phone bat­tery even­tu­ally died.

Re­grets? “Not a sin­gle one.”

The dust never set­tles If pa­tients need to be evac­u­ated in a hurry, the mede­vac he­li­copter flies in from Ge­orge. With a swirl of dust it lands on the small gravel patch out­side the even smaller govern­ment hos­pi­tal as cu­ri­ous on­look­ers gather. It can...

Is that MacGyver in the mir­ror? “Mak­ing the move to a small town will al­ways be an ad­just­ment. But you do ad­just. You roll with it. I like to say I have a bloudraad phi­los­o­phy. When some­thing goes wrong you have to find a way to fix it. And if you put...

The life of a coun­try doc­tor Pete’s surgery has, and con­tin­ues to see, a vast ar­ray of pa­tients, not all of the hu­man va­ri­ety. He has patched up a black ea­gle, vac­ci­nated a meerkat, and set the legs of goats, sheep and even a chicken in plaster of...

‘Can you hear me now?’ “The sense of com­mu­nity in a small dorp is its heart­beat. I find it hard to go on hol­i­day; I worry about my pa­tients.” Here, Pete climbs a wind­mill in the Kala­hari while on hol­i­day to get a strong enough sig­nal to check in with...

Time to breathe Stress re­lease takes dif­fer­ent forms in a small town. Pete has a farm­yard di­rectly be­hind his surgery and nips out, in-be­tween ap­point­ments, to feed his ev­er­grow­ing flock or to wa­ter his beloved veg­eta­bles, all grown from seed. (He’s...

‘I’m on my way, Tan­nie’ Mak­ing house calls, an an­ti­quated prac­tice in the city, is a reg­u­lar part of Pete’s day. Some pa­tients live within walk­ing dis­tance (that’s the beauty of a small town), whereas oth­ers are fur­ther afield… like 100km away. You’ll...

‘ To­gether we’ll make it bet­ter’ Gone are the days of hav­ing to squeeze as many con­sul­ta­tions as pos­si­ble into a day. You have more time to fol­low up with pa­tients. You have a cup of cof­fee (or some­thing a lit­tle stronger), you catch up on their news,...

Pete Rein­ders has a small surgery on his prop­erty (100m from his house, mak­ing com­mut­ing a breeze), but you’ll of­ten see him at the homes of his pa­tients. “I won’t lie. As a doc­tor, mov­ing to a small town, far from spe­cial­ists and life-sav­ing...

All in the fam­ily As a reg­is­trar many years ago at Eden­dale Hos­pi­tal in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, Pete trained as a gy­nae­col­o­gist. Al­though he never spe­cialised, it seems this train­ing has turned out to be valu­able, es­pe­cially when his sheep and goats give...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.