Dr. Ron Clark of the Elk Valley Hospital is retiring after 42 years of service, and hopes to spend more time in the great outdoors. (Contributed by Ron Clark)

Dr. Ron Clark of the Elk Valley Hospital is retiring after 42 years of service, and hopes to spend more time in the great outdoors. (Contributed by Ron Clark)

Fernie’s top doc calls it a day, retires after 42 years at Elk Valley Hospital

Dr. Ron Clark started work in the valley in 1979

After 42 years, Dr. Ron Clark is hanging up his stethoscope.

The Fernie doctor has been a staple at the Elk Valley Hospital since he arrived in 1979 from Moose Jaw where he worked for two years as a doctor, and over those years, he’s seen a lot.

“I’m a family doctor in rural Canada which means that we do everything. I started out looking after children, delivering babies, looking after geriatrics, sports medicine, ski injuries … and I did anesthetics at the hospital for operations.”

Dr. Clark has been chief of staff at the hospital for the last 12 years, and filled the role before then. He’s had a hand in hiring, training, and mentoring medical staff – many of whom still live and work in Fernie and call the Elk Valley home.

He’s seen a lot of changes as well, and through his position as chief of staff, fought a lot of battles.

“One of the things I really worked hard at over the time I have been here is to keep our hospital functioning as a place where women can come in and have babies, where people can be sick and know that they’re going to be looked after.

“It’s hard to keep a small hospital like ours operating, doing surgery, delivering babies, keeping the sub-specialties … trying to keep a group in a small rural site and convince the administrators in Kelowna that we need to keep doing what we’re doing.

“It was a rare year I didn’t have to fight some battle to retain service in the Elk Valley. (It was )probably the single biggest useful thing I’ve done,” he said.

When asked if he thought his efforts over the years had been successful, Dr. Clark said the state of the hospital today spoke for itself.

“The lights are still on.”

In the 42 years he’s been serving the Elk Valley, Dr. Clark said he has enjoyed and appreciated the role he’d played in so many people’s lives.

“It’s always something different, and that’s the joy of family medicine in a small town.

“You wake up every day and you know you’re going to be challenged, you’re generally going to see something you’ve never seen before and you’re going to have to figure it out and decide how to make it better.

“There’s two things I really cherish – the first is looking after people from the second that they’re born until they grow up and grow old, and everything in between.

“There’s nothing like the magic of being present when a new life is being born, and the gratitude of being able to help somebody gradually ease away into the next life.”

While he’s stepping away from work, he’s not stepping away from the lifestyle of the valley. Like many of the doctors who have come to Fernie and the Elk Valley, he’s staying put – and said he’d set himself the goal of learning how to play golf over the coming summer.

Until then, it was a fond farewell to the many who he worked with, as well as to the many patients who had spent time in his care.

“Thank you for the trust that you’ve shown me over the years. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to look after each and every one of you.”

READ MORE: Fernie Meat Market up for sale



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CommunityHealthcare

Just Posted

The ‘official’ opening of 2nd Edition Coworking in downtown Fernie, a project five years in the making by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce. Left to right: Executive Director of the Fernie Chamber Brad Parsell, incoming President of the Fernie Chamber Norm Fraser, outgoing President of the Fernie Chamber Anita Palmer, and Mayor of Fernie Ange Qualizza. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Fernie Chamber cuts the ribbon on 2nd Edition

The new coworking space in Fernie is now ‘officially’ open, but has been operating since early 2021

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks with the new AED SaveStation installed at the Sparwood Leisure Centre. (Contributed by District of Sparwood)
Sparwood installs public AED

The SaveStation was installed thanks to a grant from CP Rail

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

(File)
“Gift card scam,” and “grandparent scam” are on the rise, Cranbrook RCMP say

Folks are falling for these scams: “No Government agency or reputable company will ever ask anyone to pay with gift cards in lieu of their fines”

t
How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 13 to 19

Flag Day, Garbage Man Day, International Panic Day all coming up this week

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Most Read