9 Nov 2009

Long-serving Ohakune family doctor retires

9:11 am on 9 November 2009

Ohakune's sole family doctor for the past 38 years is retiring next month.

Residents of the central North Island town will farewell Dr Gratien Perera on Sunday and his clinic will shut for the last time on 11 December.

Dr Perera, 67, says he went to Ohakune in the early 1970s intending to stay six months but enjoyed the challenge.

He dealt with broken bones, delivered babies, and tended to his own patients and many visitors to the town.

Dr Perera says he enjoyed looking after six generations of some families although the paperwork that went with the job became onerous.

Local groups are working with the Whanganui Regional Primary Health Organisation on how to replace him.

The organisation's chief executive Judith MacDonald says the community may not get the same type of family doctor service.

Many doctors are not prepared to put in the hours Dr Perera worked, she says.

The PHO is exploring options including getting locum cover for the short term and eventually setting up an integrated family health centre.