Dr. Paul Coolican, veteran physician who has been with the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic for 28 years is retiring.
Last week Coolican spoke with The Leader about his pending retirement, and introduced two new doctors who have joined the local practice.
Coolican plans to stay in this community for the near future, but says it is time he retired, explaining that his wife has been retired for eight years.
“I am giving up my practice, having found an excellent replacement,” said Coolican.
He is handing over his St. Lawrence Medical Clinic practice to Dr. Mélanie Waite, who has been working at the clinic through this transition (on locum) since June.
Dr. Coolican will keep his privileges at Winchester District Memorial Hospital, and plans, after about a year of retirement, to be available to help out at SLMC when other physicians take holidays.
Coolican has plenty of kind words about his 28 years here.
“The staff here at the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic are great. They are all caring and hard-working. We have an excellent hospital.”
“The patients here are wonderful. They are really appreciative of the care they receive,” he said. That makes this area very special and appealing to the medical students and residents who spend time here, he explained.
“They all mention it. It makes this a great place to work.”
He says what he will miss most about the practice is his day to day contact with his patients.
“You really get the chance to know people in a practice like this. I will miss that contact and I will miss my colleagues. They are all hard-working, fine people. We have been fortunate to live here and raise our family here and I am grateful to the community.”
Dr. Waite is originally from Ottawa and sees joining the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic as a move home.
She graduated medical school from Ottawa University.
As a student she participated in the ‘week in the country’ program offered regularly at WDMH.
“I really enjoyed that,” she said. So, when she was looking to come back to the area, she reached out to the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic to see if they were looking for doctors.
She explained that she really likes that in rural medicine, doctors see their patients both in clinic and in hospital. “You don’t get that in a city practice. It’s very different.”
In her few months with the SLMC, Dr. Waite can’t say enough about the SLMC group. “Everyone is so supportive, and tight knit. We all work well together. All the doctors are keen on learning and helping each other. I am looking forward to continuing my work with this group.”
Her plans are to be here for the long term.
In taking over Dr. Coolican’s practice, she is taking on a fairly large patient load. She will work out of the Morrisburg and Ingleside clinics and is not taking on new patients at this time.
Also practising at the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic’s Morrisburg and Ingleside locations is Dr. Herve Weka.
Dr. Weka is brand new to SLMC having just started last week.
Weka grew up in Montreal and New Brunswick. He completed all of his medical training in New Brunswick. “I’m a Maritime boy,” he said.
Although he’s a Maritime boy, he loves city life and wanted to live in the city as he embarked on his medical career.
As a medical student he did a rotation at the Ottawa General and fell in love with the city.
He joined the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic and plans to live in Ottawa and commute here.
He said he is committed to making the daily commute and that he would love to stay with this practice long term. “The people here are awesome. It’s like family. It’s that family atmosphere that drew me here,” he said.
Weka is taking over the patients of Dr. Lois Furtado, who has moved on.
Weka says his is a medium sized practice. He is not currently taking patients, but expects over time he will take on more.
“It’s a pleasure to be here. I love this small community. The people here have been amazing. I know it’s not easy to switch doctors, and I appreciate people’s trust in helping me take care of them.”
Dr. Coolican, who has long been part of the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic’s recruiting efforts, says that this clinic still needs to recruit at least two more doctors to the area to handle patient load, and that recruiting efforts are always ongoing.