|I first met Andrew when he was an intern, exploring rural hospitals for a place to make a difference. Emboldened by his OT wife, Katie, and the friendship of two other couples of similar mettle, his search was not for a well-functioning place, but a hospital and community which really needed a doctor. The trio of friends settled on Madwaleni Hospital, our neighbour. At the time, there was only one doctor, a Dutch TB specialist, bravely holding her own, but barely managing. Madwaleni was at its lowest ebb for a long time. Today things are vastly different. A vibrant team of doctors, including a Family Physician, registrars and allied health professionals, provide excellent quality care. How did this happen?
Of course, many people have played a part in the renaissance, but Andrew’s role has been critical. I’d like to highlight four things I think deem him worthy of the Rural Doctor of the Year award.
First, his longevity. The award is not recognition of long service, but the ability to endure the tough, lean, pioneering years is a critical success factor that requires courage and resilience. It’s a marker that he’s in it for something other than his own salary or gratification. He truly wants to improve health care in the community he serves.