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‘Gentleman’ surgeon hangs up his hat

Mair Moorcock, charge nurse manager, and Dr Evan Jamieson, retiring orthopaedic surgeon. PHOTO/ARTHUR HAWKES

‘Evan has been an absolute pleasure to have here’

Arthur Hawkes

Chances are, if you’ve had a knee or hip replacement, or broken a bone in the past four decades, Dr Evan Jamieson will have played a part in your recovery. Jamieson is an orthopaedic surgeon from Palmerston North Hospital, who has operated on Wairarapa people for 40 years – and he’s just announced his retirement.

Orthopaedic surgeons travelling to smaller hospitals like Masterton were essential due to their wide knowledge and range of skills, and their contact with specialised units in larger hospitals. While Jamieson was based at Palmerston North, he travelled to Wairarapa each month, and noted how important it was for the larger hospital to provide staff for its neighbour over the Tararuas.

John MacCormick had been performing surgery since the late 1960s in Wairarapa, who Jamieson joined at Wairarapa Hospital on his visits. There are now orthopaedic surgeons at Wairarapa Hospital, but it’s still in need of staff.

“There were no orthopaedic surgeons when I started to come down here, none,” Jamieson said.

Jamieson also remembered surgeon superintendent Owen Prior in the 1980s as “a truly general surgeon, old school, capable of dealing with almost any surgical problem”.

Jamieson also recalled steel hinged joints and other antiquated methods of joint replacement. Nowadays there’s 3D printing so the new piece will fit perfectly, along with computer-assisted surgery.

“Surgeons can now take the X-rays and get computer assistance so they know exactly where to make the cuts.”

Something that has troubled the Wairarapa region for several years has been attracting quality staff to the relatively underpopulated area. Jamieson said orthopaedics was
no different.

“In recent times there haven’t been enough surgeons for the workload, so that’s why I’ve carried on. I’ll be here until January just to help out.”

When January rolls around, Jamieson will be sorely missed for his quality, his cheer, and his professionalism. At his leaving lunch last Thursday, staff were jostling around the door of the meeting room to have a quick yarn before they had to dive back to work, spilling out into the corridor.

Mair Moorcock, charge nurse manager at Wairarapa Hospital, described the pleasure she’d had working with Jamieson for so many years.

“He’s been an absolute gentleman, he’s been coming so long that there are generations of people in Wairarapa who Evan has cared for, thousands of people, lots of children.

“Evan has been an absolute pleasure to have here.”

Moorcock described how Jamieson had gone above and beyond for his patients in Wairarapa, despite doing surgery in Palmerston North for the majority of his working month.

“When we were very short of orthopaedic surgeons, and we didn’t have any based here, Evan came from Palmerston.

“Over the years we had Ian. Then when Ian was sick, Evan would be our back-up and come whenever I asked him.

He’d fit in an extra clinic and fill in for people that were sick.”

In a moment of reflection, Jamieson thought about why he got into surgery in the first place, and why he kept on in the same field for over four decades – and he had only good things to say about the many thousands of residents he’d helped with orthopaedic problems.

“If you ask me why I do it, or rather why I did it, it’s because I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the people – Wairarapa people are very good people.”

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