WILKIE-- After five decades of serving as general practitioner, Dr. David Kemp of Wilkie has given his retirement notice.
Dr. Kemp began his career as a family physician in 1971, starting out in Bristol, England where he worked until 1977. He moved to Canada and began his career in Unity, where he served as a family doctor for six months. Kemp then took on the role as Macklin’s GP for seven years followed by a move to Wilkie in 1986, where he has been ever since.
Dr. Kemp tells the Press-Herald, the biggest change he has seen in his career was modifications to rural hospitals, alterations he noted that really took hold in the new millennium, when powers that be began shutting rural hospitals down.
“Prior to that, there were babies being delivered until we became a little four-bed unit and the hope was to have patients no more than an overnight stay.”
He doesn’t recall the first baby he delivered but he certainly recalled the last baby delivered in Wilkie Hospital, saying the mother hung on until the last moment and was delivering right before obstetric services were no longer part of Wilkie Hospital and there was basically no equipment left for infant deliveries.
Asked what his biggest challenge has been as a doctor over the years Dr. Kemp says “You are only as good as your last patient.”
“I tried to do my best for everyone. Things became very complex with plenty of paperwork to compound matters doctors needed to attend to.”
Dr. Kemp says the biggest reward of his medical career is the role he played in keeping people healthy and progressing patients back to good health. Complicated patients and tricky problems resulted in referrals but he was always happy to hear of positive outcomes.
Wilkie Mayor David Ziegler adds, “Dr. Kemp will leave big shoes to fill. We hope to find a new doctor that will do what he did for our community and area. Wilkie is classed as a 1.5 doctor facility so with Dr. Matta providing the part-time role, we are needing a new full-time resident doctor.”
Ziegler says he understands the Saskatchewan Health Authority is actively aiding in the search for a new doctor for their community.
It is concerning for residents of Wilkie. Especially with reported shortages of family physicians in Warman, Martensville, Saskatoon and North Battleford, to name a few.
The problem is not new, as CBC reported in 2011 that loss of rural doctors would affect 22 communities. In fact, when researching the struggle for rural doctors, recruitment news stories come up since 2013. The pandemic has intensified the tsunami, adding to ongoing pressures on Saskatchewan’s health care and those who work in it, and it doesn’t seem to be subsiding any time soon.
“I was sad to hear that Dr. Kemp had decided to retire but understand that it was time for him to take time for himself and his lovely wife, their children and grandchildren. Being our family doctor for many years, he has gone the “extra mile” for my late husband Don and myself. Upon our referrals, the specialists would say, ‘You are very fortunate to have Dr. Kemp as your family doctor, his expertise in medicine is amazing,” said Kathy Heilman.
Dr. Kemp says his plans for retirement include, “I’m going to put my feet up. Our house is for sale and we will go to our daughter’s in Canmore over Christmas and New Years and the plan is to eventually relocate there, but I’m in no rush.”