By Victoria Stone-Meadows
Doctor Guenter Oechsle has been a longstanding medical practitioner in Cranbourne, and has decided to hang up his stethoscope.
The good doctor started working in Cranbourne 30 years ago, and has seen not just the medical field but also the community he has treated change drastically over the years.
“It has been an amazing experience,” he said.
“Many techniques didn’t exist when I first started; keyhole surgery didn’t exist for example and there have been so many advances in a short time.”
“It has been amazing to see and be part of these developments.”
After completing his medical degree at Monash University, Dr Oechsle went on to do his training at Dandenong Hospital before specialising as a GP and working in Cranbourne.
He has earned many honours in his long career including being able to train other doctors both at Dandenong Hospital and at the clinic in Cranbourne.
“Education has always been an interest of mine, so Cranbourne is also a training practice where I have been training GPs for 30 years,” he said.
“It has always been good; teaching keeps you on your toes.”
Dr Oechsle has seen Cranbourne itself transform from a small country town to a bustling metropolis it is today.
“When I first started working here, I didn’t have one traffic light to go through on my way to the office, and now there are about 10 sets on the main road.”
While the doctor’s main interest was obstetrics, he has had the privilege of treating entire families.
“This was the first big clinic in Cranbourne and the only one open after hours and with weekend service,” he said.
“We provide a comprehensive service from cradle to grave, and I have found where I used to be on the birth notices, now I’m appearing in people’s eulogies.”
The team at the Casey Medical Centre under the stewardship of Dr Oechsle and the other partners has seen epidemics go by and have treated all manner of ailments and illnesses.
“It has been a very fulfilling and rewarding career, and I think the change of population has been unbelievable and has presented a challenge to keep up with,” Dr Oechsle said.
“The biggest challenge is that you never know what’s going to walk in the door, and over the years I could have seen everything in the book.”
“We have had a few meningococcal outbreaks that were pretty scary and when the big swine flu epidemic swept through we triaged people in a separate area with dedicated flu services.”
Dr Oechsle was also instrumental in setting up the treatment rooms at the Casey Medical Centre that act as a mini emergency room and is one of the first in the state to do so.
“We’ve had a lot of doctors come in and see how it all works,” he said.
“It is the ideal set up because we already provide long hours, so there is always someone there with the facility to deal with emergencies; including a couple of successful resuscitations.”
Dr Oechsle said he had seen the best and worst that the medical field had to offer, and he felt he was ready to start the next chapter of his life.
“I am planning to pretty much try stepping back from everything,” he said.
“I have been slowing down due to a hip replacement a few years ago, so it’s time to wind down and transition into retirement.”
While he has been overwhelmed with letters and words of support from the community, he says it feels a little strange to be honoured in such a way.
Dr Oechsle said he was looking forward to spending time with his wife and his two sons and getting out and playing a bit of golf and tennis.
“There are too many facets to it, and it has been overwhelming all the gifts and cards and letters, it’s like I’m having my wake before my death which is not a bad thing.”
“It has been incredibly rewarding for me, and hopefully I have helped some people along the way.”