WINCHESTER — Dr. Suru Chande remembers his first day at Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH), back in November 1971. He had been recruited to work with the team of doctors at the Morrisburg Clinic and was just waiting for the results of his surgical exams. “I was coming back from the American College of Surgeons meeting in the U.S., and I got a message that a patient at WDMH with possible acute appendicitis required my attention. There were no cell phones back then, so I can’t even remember how they found me,” he recalls. “I had found out that I had passed my Surgery Fellowship exams and that I would be credentialed at WDMH, so off I went to the Operating Room and got to work. I’m not sure I looked very qualified to the patient!”
Fifty years later, Dr. Chande remains a fixture at the local healthcare institution, receiving his 50-year pin as part of WDMH’s recent annual Long-Term Service Awards. Sixty staff members and physicians were honoured, as well as 15 retirees.
Back in 1971, there were only two surgeons at WDMH. Dr. Chande worked alongside Dr. Duane Justus in those early years, doing all kinds of surgeries included pediatric care before CHEO opened in Ottawa. He also remembers his work at the clinics in Iroquois, Morrisburg, and Ingleside. “The Ingleside clinic was close to a local school, so I got occasional calls from the playground or basketball court to deal with a dislocated finger or laceration.”
“We always had terrific support from the CEO and the Board, the Operating Room team, everyone at WDMH, and my partners at the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic,” he remembers. “And I can’t say enough about the Auxiliary and how they raised funds for equipment.” In fact, Dr. Chande was one of the first surgeons in the region to perform minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery in the early nineties – using equipment funded by the volunteers.
Today, Dr. Chande can still be found in the OR almost every Friday assisting with surgeries. He also spends two to three days a month in Morrisburg doing consultations and minor procedures. He says he still enjoys the work: “At WDMH, once people know you, you’re part of the family. People want to help you.”
It’s been observed that people say the same thing about Dr. Chande himself.
“Congratulations and thank you for 50 years of service!” declares a WDMH press release about the recipient.