Respected GP to leave after 25 years' service to Wanganui

By Anne-Marie McDonald

After 25 years as a GP at Wicksteed Medical Centre, Brigette Meehan is retiring.

Dr Meehan made a "fairly random choice" to come to Wanganui in 1983, and is now leaving for family reasons.

She is moving to Auckland to be with her husband, after a long time travelling between Wanganui and Auckland, but said she would continue her connection with Wanganui through friends.

Dr Meehan and her family came to Wanganui so she could study obstetrics here.

"Wanganui Hospital was one of the hospitals in New Zealand offering the training. I still remember flying into Wanganui for the first time, thinking we were going to land on the beach."

After a year's training at Wanganui Hospital Dr Meehan decided to stay for another year. She did some GP locum work in the central North Island and Australia before returning to Wanganui to do her GP training under the guidance of Dr John McMenamin.

In 1988 Dr Meehan combined her work in obstetrics with general practice when she took over from Dr Clarrie Wong at Wicksteed Medical Centre.

"I clearly remember the challenge of replacing a man of many years' experience who was respected and loved by his patients. Some fled at the prospect of having to see a 'girl doctor'."

But many others stayed and Dr Meehan said it had been a privilege to be part of her patients' lives.

She brought up her family in Wanganui and, in her early days, combined her work as a doctor with motherhood.

"The children have grown now and left home, but they acknowledge the advantages of growing up in Wanganui."

Dr Meehan has had a variety of medical interests during her time in Wanganui, including obstetrics, sports medicine and skin cancer.

She also spent a few years working on the Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care roster for the police.

Dr Meehan said she did not want to leave Wanganui until a suitable replacement for her had been found. That replacement had been found, with Neil Hughes joining Wicksteed Medical Centre this month.

"Dr Hughes has all the personal and professional attributes I would want in someone caring for the health of myself and my family, so I am confident that he will take my place and more," she said.

Dr Meehan said she had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to the people of Wanganui for their "friendship, support and loyalty" over the years.


- Wanganui Chronicle

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