Halswell Domain

Halswell Domain
View from the Model Engineers' site in the Halswell Domain

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Familiar Face: Dr Sandra Hicks

Dr Sandra Hicks is very familiar face to the people of Halswell because she has been a  GP here for twenty years. The popular doctor has just retired from  her position at Halswellhealth.

Originating from Timaru, Sandra had a doctor for a dad and a nurse for a mum. Undeterred from the clear message from society at the time that "girls are nurses, boys are doctors,"  Sandra had her heart set on being a doctor, from the age of five or six.

Fairly practical reasons motivated Sandra towards becoming a general practitioner. Sandra and her husband Murray had their two daughters early in their marriage and  GP work provided a more flexible work option.   Sandra began her career working at Christchurch Hospital, then spent four years in California, followed by some time with Family Planning, some GP locums and eight years in general practice in Hei Hei.  After that, Sandra came to work in Halswell and has been here ever since.

Sandra has loved general practitioner work because of the great variety and the long term relationships.  "There are times when you really do make a difference in people's lives, sometimes by making the right diagnosis, sometimes by just affirming the person before you and how they are making their own health choices or life choices," explains Sandra. "I have also loved working with the people that I  have worked with," and the feeling is mutual; the staff at Halswellhealth warmly describe Sandra as "passionate, intelligent, and caring."

As well as a demanding  daily work schedule, Dr Sandra found the time to be  very involved with the political aspects of medicine. Sandra found the work to be "fascinating" after initially being shoulder tapped to join the local branch of the College of GPs (RNZCGP). She became chair of the local faculty and then was a delegate to the national RNZCGP council. She followed that with 10 years of service to Pegasus in a number of committees and was also on the Board. During that time, she was a member of the IPAC council and on committees charged with giving health sector advice to ACC and the Ministry of Health. Later she served  on the board of the New Zealand Medical Association for many years.

Another huge achievement for this busy doctor was being an integral part of the establishment of  Longhurst Health.  The building of this health centre was initially driven by Dr Hicks and her colleagues Dr Sarah Marr and Dr Phil Jacobs.  With the population expansion here, more facilities were clearly needed. The doctors thought it would be a good idea to build a centre with adjacent health services  from the beginning, rather than waiting for the services to grow up gradually around the medical centre, as had happened in Ensign Street. Sandra, Sarah, and Phil were joined by pharmacists Doug Stanton and Karen Frater and dentist Vivienne Levy as co-owners of the building. They met together every week for a very long time to bring it to fruition.  The building has allowed our medical services to continue to have a sense of community, by bringing  in many local, established health care providers in on the project.

When not working, Sandra has enjoyed entering some multi sports, running, kayaking and a little bit of cycling.  She also enjoys reading and the arrival of grandchildren has rekindled an interest in knitting. For the last eighteen months, Sandra has spent Fridays looking after her grand-daughter and hopes to spend more time with her and her young brother in the future. Sandra and her husband often visit California where their other daughter lives with her family. They have also travelled to Canada, Mexico, the UK, France, Italy and  Switzerland.

Retirement is presenting  Sandra with new opportunities.  She is learning Italian in anticipation of a planned trip. After a long and busy career, she is looking forward to having time to "just  sit" but also to "get fitter again, to do some two to three day tramps, and to travel some more," and then you realise Sandra won't be " sitting" for long, as her energy and enthusiasm are so evident. Other doctors tell Sandra that "she will be bored and that she needs to keep her registration up in order to do locum work." Sandra is still pondering that decision.

Sandra has been a very hard-working GP who has delivered professional excellence in her practice, been committed to medical politics  and   been a large contributor to the Longhurst Health project, which is a huge asset for the people of Halswell. Sandra will be missed by her clients and by those who have worked with her.  We wish her all the best for her retirement and her well-deserved break.

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