Popular local GP Dr Gerome Vander Linden was farewelled at a dinner at the Kingscote Golf Club on Friday, October 15.
GPs, practice nurses, current and former staff from the KI Medical Clinic attended.
Dr Jeremy Wells spoke firstly about Gerome’s early years in the practice and the commitment and dedication he had shown to the community during the last 21 years.
Gerome’s first experience of KI was crossing backstairs passage on very rough seas with wife Trish, son Rory and 10-day-old Oliver.
They went to their home at the mouth of the Cygnet River, where they were advised that the ferry with their moving van and all of their furniture and personal effects had been cancelled and would not arrive until the following day.
Dianne Hoffmann, who was the manager at the KI Medical Clinic, rallied doctors and staff, and delivered a home cooked meal and bedding to Gerome and Trish, enabling them to stay their first night in their own home.
Gerome commenced working at the surgery shortly after this and it was a bit of a slow start, including a visitation by the local Catholic priest “just to check the new doctor out”.
But his medical knowledge, friendly manner and attention to detail became legendary and his appointment books were soon overflowing.
Dr Jeremy Wells himself took the position at the KI Medical Clinic based on a recommendation from other doctors, who had knowledge of Gerome’s skills.
The word was “that he wouldn’t find a better, more skilled mentor for his registrar year”, and Jeremy confirmed that this statement was absolutely correct.
Jeremy recounted all the famous sayings by Gerome that everyone all know and love, and commented on his story telling ability, which always began with “Tell me if I’ve already told you this story” - and many had, but all listened intently again!
Apart from his skills as a medico, Gerome has been involved in the local community, playing squash at a high level and serving on KICE school council, being a staunch supporter of the music program in the schools.
He masterfully played at a fundraising recorder concert, and he plays sax and piano and was a member of the men’s choir.
Several years ago, Gerome with his late friend and fellow GP, Dr Alf Rombout took on the hospital system, and refused to allow ageing KI residents to be transferred to Adelaide for long-term care.
Gerome is currently a skilled GP/anaesthetist/emergency care doctor, and formerly practiced obstetric care as well.
He is happy to share his skills and has seen the advent of practice nurses, medical students and practicing registrars to the current practice.
Gerome replied to Jeremy’s comments, by stating that it was the “sense of community” that had kept him with the practice so long.
And also all the wonderful people and families that he had encountered along the way, and the friendships formed with doctors and staff both at the clinic and the hospital.
He paid special tribute to his wife Trish, for the countless hours that she had put in nurturing his three sons, when practicing medicine had kept him away, and for always being there throughout the difficult times, to provide support to him.
In closing, Gerome recounted a story of a KI family that summed up what he loved about “Islanders” and the Island lifestyle.
At this point, Gerome and Trish called Mary and Lucy, the oldest and youngest current receptionists, to open a large present that they had decided to give to the clinic as a parting gesture.
The stunning photograph of a KI dolphin, is one of the “Wild and Free” works by local photographer Peter Fuller and will be installed in the clinic in the near future.
Gerome and Trish will leave KI shortly to begin their travels.
They hope to find plenty of surf, sun and social times and catch up with their boys.
Gerome is keen to experience some emergency and anaesthetic locum work elsewhere.
They will return to KI from time to time, and Trish who is a diabetes educator, will still be providing services at the Cook Centre.
They will keep their house on the Island and hope to spend more time fishing or donning a wetsuit and catching a few good waves.
Thank-you for providing the KI community with excellent care for the last 21 years!