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College history - Practice histories

Lutwyche, Queensland

The first practice in the area was first established in Wooloowin around 1932 by Dr John Leslie Dart. Dart, who graduated with a MB CHM from the University of Sydney in 1925, sold the Practice in 1938 to Dr Max Berg, a Jewish refugee from Berlin. Born in Berlin, Berg had graduated from the University of Berlin in the late 1920s or early 1930s, and had practised in the city for some time before escaping from Nazi Germany. He then proceeded to Scotland, where he obtained a licentiate, which enabled him to register as a medical practitioner in Queensland. He worked alone in Wooloowin throughout the war years, during which time he was said to be the only doctor between Wooloowin and Sandgate. Patients used to start lining up outside his surgery – which was also his home – at 6 each morning, and he would keep seeing them well into the night.

In 1947, Berg was joined by Dr Walter Peretz, who was also a Jewish refugee, having fled from Nazi occupied Austria. Peretz, who had graduated with an MD from the University of Vienna in 1936, was not granted registration to practice medicine when he arrived in Queensland, forcing him to accept a job as a builder's labourer. He was later accepted by the University of Queensland into the medical faculty, and was granted credits for the first 3 years of the undergraduate course. He graduated with a MB BS in 1942, and was then sent to the Rockhampton General Hospital as an RMO, where he spent 1 year, before being appointed the medical superintendent of the Charters Towers Hospital, where he spent 3 years. Peretz returned to Brisbane in 1947, joining the Brisbane office of the staff of the old Repatriation Department (now the Department of Veteran Affairs), where he remained for a few months before joining Berg.

Peretz, along with his wife and two children, David and Diane, lived in the back half of a weatherboard house on stilts for several years. Berg had also lived in this house initially, before he bought a house in Stopford Street , about half a mile from the surgery. The medical practice was conducted in the front half of the house, which was set back from Lutwyche Road at number 612. Interestingly, the property was named 'Merton', which was probably the name of the house before it became the site of a medical practice. Peretz eventually bought a small block of land in Ascot Street, Ascot, about two miles from the surgery, and built a brick home.

In December 1959, Berg met with Dr John Comerford about arrangements for Comerford to do a 3 week locum while Berg took his annual leave, with Comerford sitting through an evening surgery session with the older doctor. Sadly, later that month, Berg died suddenly after arriving home for lunch on Christmas Eve. Comerford began practicing at Lutwyche at the beginning of January 1960 as a locum for Dr Peretz, who was on holiday. After his locum was completed, Comerford stayed on, eventually taking up a half partnership share.

Neither Peretz nor Comerford performed any major surgery, aside from curettage for miscarriages, and a few tonsillectomies Comerford did on children. Both doctors performed obstetrics (though not caesarean sections). They confined women in three hospitals: Boothville, the Salvation Army hospital at Windsor, which mainly cared for unmarried girls, but also had a few private beds as well; the Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital; and the Mater Mothers' Hospital. Comerford also began performing minor operations at the practice.

Peretz had a particular interest in psychiatry, and when the Royal Brisbane Hospital created several outpatient posts for GPs with special interest or training in psychiatry in the late 1960s, he applied and was accepted as a clinical assistant. He would continue in this role for several years.

Comerford had obtained considerable experience in administering anaesthetics during his residency at the Royal Brisbane and the Royal Brisbane Women's hospitals. With the severe shortage of anaesthetic specialists in Brisbane at that time, Comerford set up a part time anaesthetic practice, and was granted anaesthetic privileges at all the private hospitals as well as the Brisbane Hospital complex (general, women's and children's). He continued practising anaesthetics for around 25 years, until such a time as Brisbane had enough specialist anaesthetics, at which point he considered it wise to retire from the discipline.

After the inception of the Family Medical Program, the Dr W Peretz & Dr J A Comerford practice became a training practice, training many young doctors over the years. Comerford also took students, both in groups and singly in fortnight attachments, from his early years in general practice.

In 1969, Dr Peretz decided to retire from general practice, and finished up on 31 July 1969. On 1 August 1969, Comerford began the conversion of the records from the 6 by 3 cards, which was the standard at the time, to the 8 by 5 cards; some years later, a further conversion to the College record system was made.

The practice remained a solo one, with the employment of several assistants for 12 month periods, until Dr Desmond Dann joined the practice. Dann took up a half share of the practice on 1 August 1970.

In the mid 1970s, Dr Vicki Robinson was employed as a full time assistant. Robinson had done her student attachment during her undergraduate years. She remained until 1999, when she left to start her own practice in Taringa.

In the early 1970s, the lease on the practice premises came up for renewal. The practice found the new rent being asked totally unreasonable, and decided to move to a relatively new medical clinic building, Wilmar House, two doors to the north of 612. The practice remained there for about 3 years until a shop in the Lutwyche shopping centre was leased and fitted out. After moving to the new clinic, which is about five kilometres north of the GPO, the practice became known as the Lutwyche Medical Centre. The practice remains in the same location, with the same name, today.

The premises provided rooms for a number of visiting specialists, including a general surgeon, Dr Labeeb McGuire; an ophthalmologist, Dr Frank English; and a podiatrist, Naomi Farrell. Space was also provided for QML and pathologists to set up facilities for collecting and taking specimens such as blood and urine samples.

After Comerford's retirement at the end of 1999, the Lutwyche Medical Centre reverted to a one man practice, with a series of female assistants being employed. Since retiring, Comerford has served on the panel of medical practitioners for the Health Practitioners Tribunal.

General practices near Lutwyche

The immediate neighbour to the north of 612 was another solo practitioner, Dr Lex Isles, who lived with his wife on the premises, and operated his practice out of the front of the weatherboard house. On his northern side was Wilmar House, in which two independent GPs, Dr Charlie Catsoulis and Dr Barry Ryan, practised. Several specialists also did sessions in the building.

Wilmar House had replaced a large old weatherboard house in which Dr Catsoulis had previously conducted a practice in association with Dr James Ryan (the father of Dr Barry Ryan) who had trained as a surgeon, and was formerly a VMO at the Mater Hospital. Dr Jim Ryan claimed that he could cure cancer by treating sufferers with cadmium, and developed a large following as a result.

Half a dozen doors to the south of 612 was another solo practice, which was originally established by Dr Ken Fraser, who was later to be knighted. Fraser was one of Brisbane 's early paediatric surgeons, and became the senior VMO in the surgical department of the Brisbane Children's Hospital (later the RBCH). He may have been succeeded by Dr Robin Charlton. Charlton, a gynaecologist, became the senior VMO to the gynaecology department of the Brisbane Hospital (later the RBH) and the Brisbane Women's Hospital (later the RBWH). This solo practice was later in the hands of Dr Ian Urquhart, who would leave general practice in the early 1960s and take up anaesthetics. The practice was sold to Dr Michael Westcott around 1960. Westcott remained in the practice – which, like so many others of this time, was conducted from the front of a weatherboard house, with the living quarters in the rear – until he retired around 2000. Westcott would go on to do locums for several years following his retirement.

The area in which all these practices existed has since been redeveloped, and none of these practices have survived.

A couple of kilometres to the north, on Gympie Road, was the Kedron Medical Centre, with Dr George Corones as the principal. Dr Ernst Guthaner, a refugee from Nazi Germany who studied at both Freiberg and Adelaide universities, practised in association with Corones. They were later joined by Dr Jeff Sparkes. Both Guthaner and Sparkes are now deceased; at the time of writing, Corones, long since retired, is hale and hearty, and the most enthusiastic of lawn bowlers at the Clayfield Bowls Club.

At the old Chermside tram terminus was a group practice established by Dr Tony Parer, one of the founding fathers of the college in Queensland, and one of the earliest provosts. Parer took in Dr Gerry Scanlan, Dr John Pozzi, and later Pozzi's brother, Dr Stephen Pozzi, who had first qualified as a veterinary surgeon. Parer and John Pozzi are now deceased; Scanlan and Stephen Pozzi have both retired, but Stephen Pozzi still serves on the panel for the Health Practitioners Tribunal.

There were several solo practices in the Chermside area. One was run by Dr Lucius Allen, who, before studying medicine, was a former classics scholar and teacher. Allen died a few years ago, and his practice was taken over by Dr Judith Tucker, a former FMP trainee of Comerford's.

There was another group practice on Stafford Road , not far from where the Stafford tram terminus used to be. This practice was established by Dr Ross McGregor, who had previously been the medical superintendent with the right of private practice at Sarina in central Queensland. McGregor was also active in college affairs in Brisbane as a member of the Faculty Board. McGregor's practice became known as the Stafford Family Medical Practice, and was built up to include several partners, including Dr Terry Darwin, who was eventually forced to retire because of ill health, and Dr Ken Dalgleish, who also active in college activities and a member of the Faculty Board. The premises also provided accommodation for specialists to do sessions.

Dr David Pincus, Dr David Backstrom and Dr Ron Richardsson practiced in Stafford Heights until they retired around 2000. Backstrom was on the college's Faculty Board and the AMAQ Branch Council for many years. He is also an accomplished musician, and played in the Medical Orchestra.

Dr Tom Macey had a solo practice along Stafford, about halfway between Stafford Village and Everton Park Village. This practice closed many years ago when Macey was forced to retire because of ill health. He is now deceased.

Between 1950 and 1990, there were many one man practices throughout north Brisbane. There were a number along Sandgate Road from Albion to Clayfield, including the practice of Dr Noel Ure. Ure had trained as a paediatrician, but decided to set up a general practice. Across the road from Ure was Dr Chris Donoghue, who was also active in college affairs in Brisbane , as well as being a member of the Queensland Medical Board for a number of years. Dr Margaret Yelland later joined him. Donoghue's daughter, Dr Julie Heiser, now runs the practice.

Further out along Sandgate Road were Dr Malcolm Carseldine, who held a Fellowship in surgery, and Dr Vaughan Lansdowne, both of whom are long since deceased. Dr Chris Brown also has a solo practice at Clayfield.

All of the practices mentioned in the Albion/Clayfield area were in old weatherboard houses, and operated like others of their time, with the surgeries in the front of the house and the living quarters at the back.

Along Maygar and Days roads in Grange were several solo practices, including the practices of Dr Brian McCrossin and Dr David Cilento, among others. The two Vincent brothers conducted a joint practice in the small Grange Village before one left to practise on Bribie Island.

Most of the solo practices have now disappeared. Solo practices did not generally attract buyers; many of these practices were forced to close when the practitioner retired. Brian McCrossin and David Cilento are two practitioners who retired in the last 10 years or so, and had to walk away from their practices. There are many others whose names I have long since forgotten who long ago retired and disappeared, many of whom are no doubt deceased.

John Comerford

The views expressed by the authors of these articles are their own and not necessarily those of the publisher or the editorial staff and must not be quoted as such. Every care is taken to reproduce articles accurately, but the publisher accepts no responsibility for errors, omissions or inaccuracies contained therein or for the consequences of any action taken by any person as a result of anything contained in this publication.

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