THE high regard in which retiring Home Hill doctor, Narelle Martin has been held in the Home Hill community was evident as many of her patients from the 42 years she has served the residents of the region came together for a farewell function at the Home Hill Hospital on Monday, May 15.
The event was beautifully and thoughtfully arranged by Anne Byrnes and Fiona Burke so that staff and patients would have time to wish each other well in the future.
Dr Martin came to Home Hill for what was originally to be a 12-month term as a locum in place of her brother, Peter, who held the position of Hospital Doctor with a right of private practice.
At the time, there were two fulltime doctors at the Ayr Hospital and “half a doctor” at the Home Hill Hospital (as that doctor also operated a private practice).
In thanking the well-wishers for their gifts and good wishes at her farewell function, Dr Martin said that when she arrived in town and saw the line of trees along the main street, she thought “this place looks okay”.
She said she was on call on weekends and when she had to go over to Ayr to deliver a baby, Tony (her husband) came with her and he slept in the car while he waited for her.
“Home Hill people are very welcoming and we are very blessed,” she commented. “I am very lucky.”
She said her children had all made their homes in the Burdekin and she now has three wonderful grandchildren.
Expanding on her time in Home Hill after cleaning out her surgery at the Home Hill Hospital where she has worked for the past 26 years, Dr Martin said her brother Peter was a scholarship holder and had completed his time working for Queensland Health and was in the process of selling the practice, resulting in her agreeing to take the position of locum for 12 months.
Peter had been in Ayr then Home Hill for about five years and was involved in the planning for the new Home Hill Hospital.
Narelle Martin said she came and stayed more than 12 months and things changed when she met Tony Castorina (her husband) and they were married in 1985.
At that time, she was still at the Hospital and did private practice, working out of the former doctor’s surgery at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Tenth Street.
After she sold that practice, she commenced the Women’s Health Clinic at the Hospital and she named a long list of valued staff members who had worked in the practice over the years, many of whom her patients would remember and without them, the practice would not have been able to deliver the same efficient but loving care over the years.
To ease any concerns Home Hill residents may have about the future of the Home Hill Hospital after she had moved out of the building, Dr Martin said she had spoken to Hospital authorities about what may happen and had been told that the Home Hill Hospital could be used for visits by specialist doctors because of a shortage of space at the Ayr Hospital as well as consideration for any other evolving needs of the district.
The Dialysis Unit is also playing an important part in the future of the hospital with a growing need for the service, instead of patients having to go to Townsville.
However, the biggest problem is a lack of trained staff, with more locally-based staff needed.
Dr Martin said she was still contacting her patients with results of tests that had been taken and assisting people with the change-over to another doctor.
She advised that anyone wanting to leave any message or query for her could do so by giving it to Fiona Ricca in the Hospital office.
One thing is for certain, there would not be the staff shortages in the Health Department in the state if there were more families like the Martins – Dr Narelle Martin is in the middle of five siblings, with her four brothers all working in health – two as doctors, one as a dentist and one as an anaesthetist.
Along with all her patients, we wish Dr Martin all the best for her future in Home Hill as she devotes more time to being a grandmother.