Home' The Great Southern Star : August 2nd 2016 Contents PAGE 14 - “THE STAR” Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Date: 24 August 2016
Time: 12.00pm - 2.00pm
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Date: 16 August 2016
Time: ρ͘ϯϬƉŵ ƚŽ ϳ͘ϬϬƉŵ
>ŽĐĂƟŽŶ͗ Coal Creek Community Park &
Museum, 12 Silkstone Road, Korumburra
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WHAT MAKES US
BUY AND BUY IN
with Dan Gregory
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ǁŚLJ ŽŶĞ ƐŝnjĞ
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By Tony Giles
LEONGATHA Health Care, formerly
Leongatha Medical Group, this week
reached a milestone of 50 years of pro-
viding medical services to the district.
On Sunday, July 31 doctors, nurses, staff, friends
and family gathered at the current site which has
stood the test of time to celebrate with afternoon tea
and the cutting of a cake for the occasion.
Current partners of Leongatha Health Care are
Drs Hugh and Lesley Chisholm and Dr Graham
The clinic, originally called Leongatha Medi-
cal Group, was formed by an amalgamation of two
clinics into one in 1966.
The first practice, operated by Dr Mario Croatto
and Dr Michael Bourke joined with the late Dr Ron
Eagger and the late Dr Alec Bennett to form the one
Prior to the amalgamation, on August 1, 1966,
the first thing the doctors set out to do in 1965 was
to buy some land on which to construct a purpose
built medical clinic, as one practice operated in
makeshift offices on the corner of Smith and Peart
Streets (Drs Croatto and Bourke) with the other
equally inadequate facility on the corner of Long
and Ogilvy Streets (Drs Bennett and Eagger).
The land was purchased in Greenwood Parade/
Koonwarra Road and a permit to build was sought.
Despite some objections about provision of parking
and with the help of Woorayl Shire councillor Jim
Haw the permit was granted.
Leongatha’s Bill Tilson built the practice and for
Solar battery storage
A FREE Solar Battery Storage Information
Session is being jointly organised by Coun-
cil’s Sustainability team, the Energy Inno-
vation Cooperative and the Mirboo North
Community Energy Hub to provide partici-
pants with expert advice about solar battery
systems, affordability and accessibility.
Sustainability Officer, Heidi Hamm, said a solar pow-
ered system coupled with battery storage could provide
electricity to homes or businesses 24 hours a day.
“But this system won’t suit everyone’s situation”, she
added. “That’s why an information session like this is so
valuable.” Industry experts have predicted battery storage
technology would be installed at a rate four times quicker
than Australia’s incumbent energy industry expects, with
the market for battery storage to grow from about 2,000
Australian homes to one million by 2020.
“The solar market will remain strong, electricity tar-
iffs will remain high and consumers will be attracted to the
battery storage technology, with battery storage installation
costs expected to fall by 40 per cent within two years,” Ms
As well as offering more flexible, reliable and efficient
energy use for consumers, storage is also an effective way
to smooth out the supply of variable forms of renewable
energy such as solar and wind power.
“It gives consumers greater control of their power use
and enables them to take full advantage of the solar energy
they generate themselves,” Ms Hamm said.
The information session will be held on Tuesday, Au-
gust 23 from 7.00 – 9 .00pm at the Dakers Centre, 23 Smith
St, Leongatha. Supper will be provided.
Participants must RSVP before August 18 via the
Sustainability Gippsland website at www.sustainability-
sion-leongatha or by phoning Heidi Hamm on 5662 9815.
Return: Dr Tim Lowe, second from left, with partner Jenny, catch up with Dr Chris Webster
and Dr Michael Bourke.
Welcome faces: former practice manager Lin-
da Tiernan and husband Brian, chat with cur-
rent practice principal, Dr Graham Toohill.
Here’s to 50 years of good health
Supported always: the doctors in the early
days relied heavily on their partners, and in
this case, wives to handle a lot of the domes-
tic duties as well as answer late and weekend
phonecalls. Two of the living partners out
of the four who started Leongatha Medical
Group, Dr Mario Croatto with wife Leonie
and Dr Michael Bourke with wife Therese
with the 50th
Party time: back row Dr Sinead De Gooyer,
clinical nurse manager Robyn Butler, prac-
tice partner Dr Lesley Chisholm and front
Lydia Giles and Cecily De Gooyer.
Happy birthday: celebrating 50 years of Leongatha Health Care are, back row from left,
Dr Sinead De Gooyer, Dr Roz Giles, Dr Chris Perry, Chris Chiam, Dr Hugh Chisholm, Dr
Graham Toohill, Dr Chris Webster, Dr Chris Ford, middle row from left, Linda Tiernan, Dr
Kee Chiam, Leonie Croatto, Dr Lesley Chisholm, Dr Raghav Nara Venkata, Dr Tim Mulher-
in, Dr Karen Liang front row, Dr Mario Croatto, Dr Michael Bourke and Therese Bourke.
“When we joined up it made an immediate differ-
ence as we could get some time off.”
Dr Croatto too said he was hardly ever home and
would just turn up once the work load was finished.
“Leonie used to say I was never home and she was
right.” Dr Croatto said.
Dr Croatto was born in the area and returned to
work as a doctor after completing his studies at the
University of Melbourne. He assisted Dr Frank
Donohue for six months before being made a partner
of the Peart Street practice.
“Not long after we joined forces it was still very
busy. It was nothing for us to each see 60 patients a
day; sometimes you even saw 25 before lunch.”
Dr Kee Chiam came in as the fifth partner in 1977,
moving from Scotland with his wife Chris.
“We had a phone hook up to Scotland for an
interview and he accepted the job over the phone.
Kee had been a registrar in Scotland for a number
of years and his cardiology experience was most
welcome,” Dr Bourke said.
The next partner was Tim Lowe who answered
an advertisement and he was largely responsible for
bringing Drs Hugh and Lesley Chisholm to town as
they are friends.
The Chisholms had a hand in recruiting Dr Gra-
ham Toohill and Sue Toohill from Nepal and soon
after Drs Tim and Joy Linton also came in from Ne-
Dr Croatto ceased with the partnership in March
1995 but worked another nine years part time.
Dr Bourke left the partnership in 2002 but has con-
tinued to work up until recent days.
“The staff has been tremendous over the years;
one former practice manager Linda Tiernan revolu-
tionized the clinic. For a start she got us starting at
the clinic at 9am sharp which meant we had to get
to the hospital at about 8am to see patients. Before
we drifted into the clinic at varying times and just
started seeing patients when we left the hospital.”
Dr Bourke also mentioned Dr Bob Birrell who
came to live in the area, around Stony Creek, in the
“He provided pediatric services over many years
and was very much appreciated; nothing was too
much trouble,” Dr Bourke said.
Associates include Dr Roz Giles who joined the
practice in 1995 and Dr Chris Perry who has been
with the clinic for a number of years apart from a
short stint in Western Australia with the Royal Flying
In more recent days the clinic has been lucky to
have attracted several more doctors with the total of
principals, associates and GP registrars now num-
bering 20 doctors, a far cry from the number in the
some years the medical clinic paid Mr Tilson rent be-
fore it was finally bought outright. That building re-
mains today as the current facility although there have
been a couple of extensions.
Leongatha Health Care has another location in Jef-
frey Street, Leongatha as well as having a practice in
The increased demands, growing population and
the need to train new and overseas doctors coming
into the area have required more doctors, nurses and
staff to manage the business to support the three loca-
In the past the practice has also had outlets in Mir-
boo North and Meeniyan although the clinic still re-
ceives patients from these towns.
Dr Bourke recalled to The Star back in the early
days there were only four GP’s and no specialists with
most people being referred to Melbourne for surgery.
“The amalgamation was a necessity as basically
we were all working seven days a week; provid-
ing first and second on calls over the weekends.”Dr
“We basically had to stay at home in case we
needed to assist and our home phones were ringing
day and night. We couldn’t have done it without our
wives as we had growing families as well to take care
of,” he said.
Friendships developed whilst the four doctors
were in “opposition”. Ties were strengthened when
one of the four doctors dreamt up a new partnership
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