The Nambucca Valley has been suffering through a shortage in doctors for some time now, and last month things were about to get much worse.
In early September Primary Health Corporation informed Peachtree doctors and staff the medical centre would close on October 13.
As serendipity would have it, the centre was saved at the eleventh hour through the intervention of local GP Dr Mark Smith, who has been practising out of spare rooms for the past 15 months.
Peachtree will now evolve into a locally-owned and managed GP clinic, and currently boasts four doctors on its books.
Dr Smith, who established the Nambucca Healthcare Centre, will join established and highly regarded Peachtree doctors Fiona McGovern, Toni North and Denny Howard.
Dr Smith came to the Valley from Victoria 20 years ago and opened Nambucca Family Medical in 1998.
“Basically, I just fell in love with the Nambucca,” Dr Smith said.
While a city-based GP will see, on average, a few hundred patients, Dr Smith cares for just over 2000 Nambucca Valley residents.
102-year-old Alice Hall, Dr Smith’s first ever Nambucca patient, is very pleased to have her doctor permanently practising in Nambucca Heads again.
“Dr Smith kept her alive five years ago—if it wasn’t for him, she wouldn’t have seen her 100th birthday,” Alice’s daughter said.
Dr Smith is also understandably excited about finding a new home for his services, but will not forget those who have helped him through this transitionary phase in his career.
“Firstly, I wish to again express my enormous gratitude to Dr Edwina Guard at Bowraville Medical and Dr Vince Edgehill at Macksville Medical, and Hibiscus Medical and their lovely staff, who warmly welcomed me at a moment’s notice in 2016, so enabling me to continue to service my Nambucca Valley patients,” Dr Smith said.
“It’s been a wonderful experience to work in practices managed with skill and integrity, and to be so well-supported by all our local doctors and medical practices.
“Knowing Fi, Toni and Denny over the years as I have, I am understandably excited to join their team.
“I fully expect that rather than close, we will grow Peachtree Medical and expand our services for the local community.”