“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”.... Martin Luther King Jr.
Last week on March 30th, we celebrated 'Doctor's Appreciation Day' in Warman!
National Doctor's Day is an internationally recognized event that is held annually around the world. The purpose behind this day is to recognize and show appreciation to our physicians for their dedication and work in our community.
The Physician Recruitment Retention Committee, with representation from the City of Warman, and the Warman Chamber of Commerce, dropped by Gama Clinic with gift bags for the physicians and support staff. It was our way to show appreciation for all that they do in our community. Thank you to Warman businesses, the Legends Golf Course, and the City of Warman for donating these tokens of appreciation for “Doctor’s Appreciation Day.”
As I made my way to the Gama Clinic, I began to reflect on Warman’s health care services and how much they have evolved in our community since the early days.
Over the years Warman has had some exceptional doctors serve the community, through the difficult times and the prosperous times. The first recorded doctor was Dr. Kniphel who came to our community in 1906. Over the next couple decades Warman had doctors coming and going. As we are all aware, we find our community in this same situation today.
Dr. W. I. Wilkin moved to Warman from Ontario in 1929 and set up his practice on 6th Avenue South. He was a total stranger to the community, and spent many days and months getting to know the people of Warman. In those days, the Mennonite people of the area had their own midwives, chiropractors, and different remedies for whatever ailed them. Dr. Wilkin was seldom called upon. He persevered and eventually the residents started to see the skill Dr. Wilkin had, and the services he could offer the residents.
A house across the street from the Wilkin residence was used as Warman's hospital. Yes, Warman had a hospital in the early days. In 1947 Dr. Wilkin moved the house off the property and built a better hospital in its place. I sure wonder how this hospital was funded back then! The hospital served its purpose until 1956 when it closed and Dr. Wilkin moved to Waldheim.
In 1960 Dr. Wilkin moved back to a Warman, and had the hospital renovated with his office and living quarters in it. He served as Warman's doctor until 1966 until he died at the age of 73.
Wilken Crescent, here in Warman, was named after Dr. Wilkin. I don't know why the spelling was changed, but I am sure there is another story behind that.
Dr. Datta was the community doctor for approximately twenty years, retiring in early 2000. Serving a community of approximately 3,500, with scarce other health services, at that time. He was friendly and thorough, with a flair for a good visit all at the same time. He was never in a hurry to get you out of his office. The one memory I had was the astray in his office, always heaping with cigarettes, one habit he couldn't shake. It wasn't uncommon back then to enter a smoke filled doctor’s office.
Dr. Datta had a couple different locations for his clinic, but most of his time was spent in the location on Central and 5th Ave., now the parking lot for Gama Clinic.
A couple doctors followed Dr. Datta, but didn't stay long. Soon after Dr. Anika moved to Warman with his family and served as Warman's doctor in the Central Ave. location until Gama clinic opened. A very caring, knowledgeable, and kind man, Dr. Anika moved to Fort McMurray to continue practicing medicine.
During this time Warman also began to see other health care providers coming to town. With dentistry, chiropractic medicine, physiology therapy, optical, naturopathic medicine, ultra sound etc. Warman was starting to become a health hub, this was just what Warman needed to attract young families to the community and to also keep our seniors here.
Gama opened with a bang bringing six doctors on to serve the growing community. Although Warman had never had more than one doctor, all the physicians at the clinic were busy. The community was very disheartened when doctor after doctor left for other opportunities.
Gama continues to work hard trying to recruit and retain physicians to serve the health needs of the community.
With the residents alarmed with the lack of physicians in the community, a great deal of work has taken place to address these concerns. We are now beginning to see some new health care options beginning to emerge. The City of Warman is confident, that by years end, we will have new options to choose from around health care.
Stay tuned for some exciting announcements!
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.”
Thank you to the many vested community members and health providers who are working tirelessly on solutions.