EGHS obstetricians to retire after 60+ years of dedicated service

East Grampians Health Service acknowledges the long and dedicated service of three of its GP Obstetricians from the Ararat Medical Centre.

Dr Michael Connellan, who has worked at EGHS for 29 years and Dr Pieter Pretorius almost 20 years, advised EGHS in 2022 of their intent to retire from obstetrics, giving the health service an opportunity to find an alternative service model. Dr C S Wong had already retired from Obstetric practice at the end of 2022. Now Dr Connellan and Dr Pretorius have indicated their wish to retire their roles as GP Obstetricians at EGHS effective from June 2023.

“Being involved in obstetric care is truly one of the greatest privileges of being a rural GP, and I will miss it enormously,” Dr Connellan said.

“It has been a great 29 years of helping to deliver the next generations of Grampians children. It has been a bit confronting but also delightful to deliver the children of children I delivered in the 90s.

“It has always been much more than just a job.”

Dr Connellan paid tribute to the many midwives he has worked with during these years and said he would miss working with such a team of dedicated skilled midwives.

“They have been the true backbone of the maternity service at EGHS. They have looked after me so well over the years, and obstetric care at EGHS has truly been a team effort in every sense of the word. I will greatly miss working with you all,” he said.

“I hope EGHS continues to have a team of dedicated doctors and midwives to deliver babies within this community for many, many years to come.”

Dr Connellan and Dr Pretorius have assured of their continued availability to assist the new obstetric team at EGHS at any time, day or night, during this crucial transition period.

East Grampians Health Service chief executive Nick Bush said the 60 plus years of combined commitment of Dr Connellan, Dr Pretorius and Dr Wong to the community is phenomenal and was unlikely to ever be replicated.

“Your continued availability to support the new team of EGHS GP obstetricians and the midwives at EGHS is something I am deeply appreciative of,” Mr Bush said.

EGHS Director of Obstetrics Dr Michael Bardsley said their years of service to the hospital and patients was inspiring.

“EGHS has a real debt to yourselves, and the other previous GPOs, who had maintained the service for so long, and frequently in difficult circumstances,” Dr Bardsley said.

Mr Bush said the loss of these experienced clinicians from the obstetric service presented significant challenges, however EGHS is taking a proactive approach to ensure long-term sustainability of birthing services.

A new GP obstetric care model has been developed and currently employs two GP obstetricians onsite at EGHS in a team-based model, Dr Megan Helper and Dr Winnie Yum, and a third GP obstetrician, currently being recruited, will provide obstetric cover in a rotating roster.

Patients will continue to have their initial pregnancy care and obtain a referral from their GP before booking an appointment with the midwife and GP obstetrician at EGHS. Shared antenatal care with other GPs will also be supported.

Antenatal clinic bookings at EGHS can be made after obtaining a GP referral by calling and speaking to a ward clerk on 5352 9321.

A celebration to acknowledge the dedicated service of the GP obstetricians will be organised by EGHS at a later date, with health service staff and community members invited.