DOCTOR John Berick has been serving Batemans Bay for more than 20 years and has witnessed Batemans Bay grow and change into a thriving community.
Dr Berick has found his time as a doctor a pleasure but this year hopes to hang up his stethoscope and enjoy a happy retirement.
When he first moved to the region the Batemans Bay Hospital had 20 beds and he was one of four doctors who ran the facility.
“In the old days there just four of us and you would sometimes be the only doctor in town for the weekend,” Dr Berick said.
“You had to do the 24 hours straight and it was especially hard because I was a relatively junior doctor then.”
Dr Berick has been an advocate for better health services in the region since opening his practice in 1973.
He has been voicing his opinions and pushing for change, however, attributes the success to tremendous community support over the years.
“Being part of the community as a general practitioner has been very rewarding,” he said.
“However the push for change (which began) when I first came here has been satisfying.
“Over the years I have witnessed five different extensions, political fights and the hospital under threat of closure, but it was the community who supported the service and without them we would never have had what we had today.
“When you have a thousand people turn up to meetings about the hospital you know it’s important to the community.
“All the changes to the hospital and building it up to what it is today; I have been very fortunate.”
Since coming to Batemans Bay Dr Berick has seen the local hospitals expand from what he describes as a ‘shoe box’ to a 37-bed facility.
“When I came here the population was 4000 people and now it’s 20,000,” he said.
“I remember when we got two extra beds and the whole town went ballistic with joy.
“It’s been good to be a part of that.”
Throughout his 30-year career Dr Berick has seen advances in technology and medicines that his made his role as a community doctor very gratifying.
“When I first started we would get patients who would have ulcers bleeding out or people suffering from asthma at the hospital blue and breathless,” he said.
“Now they have devised drugs that block the receptors or stimulate the receptors making these illnesses easy to treat and it’s been a revolution of sorts for medicine.
“Witnessing that and being able to help patients has been a wonderful experience.”
Dr Berick considers himself an expert on retiring having witnessed so many of his patients do so throughout his career.
“I have a bit of a theory that you should retire when your body tells you to and while you still have time,” he said.
The 63-year-old doctor plans to spend his retirement managing his family farm with wife Helen in Crookwell and work on recording his families’ ancestry.
Dr Berick has been a well-loved doctor in Batemans Bay and said he would miss the region and his patients.
“I would really like to thank everyone in the community; it has been an absolute pleasure and joy to serve this community,” he said.
“Helen and I have been very fortunate and lucky.”