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Thommo hangs up his stethoscope after 50 years at Bridge Clinic
Perhaps the longest-serving GP in Murray Bridge's history, Dr Robert Thompson, has retired.
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After 50 years of general practice in Murray Bridge, Thommo has hung up his stethoscope.
Dr Robert Thompson – as he is less often known – retired on Friday, ending a career which made him the longest-serving GP in Bridge Clinic’s hundred-year history, as far as anyone knows.
He had been the perfect example of a country doctor, long-time colleague David Butler said: unflappable, never unkind, ever the gentleman, with a life-long love of learning more about medicine.
“We’ll be sorry to see him go, but after 50 years he deserves a break,” he said.
“In his younger years ... he was on call every night because he was the only one in town who could do caesarian sections.
“Even his holidays were all somewhere like the Adelaide Hills, so he was available and he could be called back.”
Dr Thompson did it all in his early years in Murray Bridge: helping deliver babies, performing surgery at all hours, responding to emergencies and repairing broken-down footballers and basketballers.
He had always been likely to end up in medicine – after all, his father also reached 50 years in general practice, up in Port Augusta.
Bridge Clinic was a much smaller practice when the young doctor arrived in the 1970s.
There were just six consulting rooms then, the others being for doctors Fred Heddle, Frank Altmann, David Haines, Bob Cowham and Victor Springett.
Dr Thompson said he was proud, elated, to have spent his entire career there.
“I’ll remember the friendships, both with patients and staff; the joy of being able to help people; and the pleasure of seeing some fantastic results in health development,” he said.
“My goal was always to practise good medicine.
“Because of the partners, I’ve been able to do that.”
He was reluctant to talk about himself for too long, humbled by all the attention.
Still, his colleagues made sure to hang balloons all around the clinic on Friday, and held a celebratory morning tea.
Outside his professional life, Dr Thompson played many years with the Rambler Football Club, contributed much to local basketball, and was a founding member of the Nature Foundation of South Australia.
He became the first non-Rotarian to be awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by the Rotary Club of Mobilong in 2015.
He did not know what retirement held in store for him – he said he planned simply to enjoy life.