Delivering some 3000 babies over his 40-year career, it’s likely there wouldn’t be too many people in the region who didn’t know who Dr John Gale was.
On March 1, Dr Gale decided to call it day after working almost a quarter of a century at the Parkes Hospital.
Hospital staff threw him a small farewell party, showering him with gifts, awards and many kind words.
Dr Gale – who is orginally from Corowa on the Murray River – began his career as a general practitioner.
He soon found himself working as a visiting medical officer (VMO) and working in obstetrics, anesthetics and general admission over the years.
He spent 11 years at Young Hospital before moving to Parkes in May 1993.
As a whole it all adds up to more than 40 years on the job with NSW Health.
“You’ve seen a lot of changes, you’ve been through thick and thin with us and moved into a new hospital with us,” Parkes maternity unit manager Jo Burke said at his farewell.
“I’m not sure what we’re going to do without him, he always seems to be there when we have a dilemma.
“He’ll be able to be back with his family, back with his grandkids – it’ll be good for him and his family, I hope he has a long and happy retirement.”
Parkes Health Service manager Liz Mitchell said there was only one Dr Gale.
“You’re going to be so missed,” she told him.
“Not just in Parkes but I’ve heard it around the traps, people are saying what are we going to do without him.
“Replacing you will be impossible...thank you for all the babies you’ve delivered and all the patients you’ve cared for.”
Dr Gale was lost for words, humbly telling those who gathered he just wanted to quietly retire.
“I chose to be a rural doctor,” he said.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without you girls and guys...I’ve been very lucky to have a very supportive team.
“There’s been times where I’ve been called up to the hospital in the middle of the night, [I’d get ready to head home] and four hours later I’m still there, so Catherine (my wife) has had to get the girls up and ready for school.
“It’s not just me who should get the accolades, it’s my family...I’m just overwhelmed. “It’s been a bit of a professional buzz I suppose.”
It was also fitting that the last newborn Dr Gale delivered – now three-week-old Milton Jones – and his mum Anita Jones (who happens to be a Parkes midwife) were present at the farewell.
Dr Gale now plans to spend more time with his wife Catherine and his four daughters Elizabeth, Demelza-Rose, Rosemary and Rebecca, and their families.