Gurbin marks 50 years of practising medicine in Kincardine


By Barb McKay

For half a century, Dr. Gary Gurbin has dedicated his life to caring for the health and well-being of residents in Kincardine.

Canada Day will mark the 50th anniversary of the day that Gurbin began practicing medicine in what is formerly the Town of Kincardine. After graduating from medical school at the University of Western Ontario, he and his then wife moved into the building now operated by Women’s House Serving Bruce and Grey. On July 1, 1966, Gurbin began working in the Kincardine hospital three days each week.

“I went right from high school into pre-med,” he said. “I had no thought of doing anything else.”

Gurbin has cared for patients steadily since then, only scaling back his practice between 1979 and 1988 to serve as Member of Parliament for Bruce-Grey. He continued to work in the Kincardine hospital emergency department on weekends and through the summers, when parliament was on break.

Gurbin has served as lead physician at the hospital and now the Kincardine Community Medical Clinic throughout his career. He was instrumental in establishing the Kincardine Physicians Group and bringing in the Kincardine Family Health Team, which operates out of the lower level of the medical clinic. Having the doctors, health team members and hospital staff work collaboratively has been a benefit to the patients they serve, Gurbin said.

“We have been able to develop a medical group that the community is well served by…We are developing in a way that allows us to have a solid future to provide services to the community.”

Gurbin said he expects the clinic will expand and integrate even more with the family health team and the hospital.

“That is the direction we need to go in to ensure we don’t lose services. People deserve to have the services they need in their own community.”

The clinic will welcome three new general practitioners this year and another new doctor will join the emergency department at the Kincardine hospital, whom Gurbin said will serve the community for years to come. Ontario is starting to see an increasing number of new medical graduates since the province added two new medical schools a few years ago.  That, along with family physician compensation models, has allowed the local physician recruitment committee to attract new doctors more easily.

Medicine has changed dramatically since he began practicing, Gurbin said. In his class of 50 students at medical school, only five were women. Now, he said, there is a much greater representation, and that is reflected within the Kincardine Physicians Group.

“The whole practice of medicine has changed,” Gurbin said. “There are group practices now, where it used to be individual.”

Advancements in technology have changed the way physicians are able to treat patients. When he was starting out, Gurbin said heart transplants were unheard of. Now they are common. Increasingly, people are living longer, but they are also healthier.

The newest change for Gurbin will come July 1 when he hands over the reins as lead physician at the clinic to Dr. Lisa Scott, currently associate lead physician. Gurbin will assume her role.

“I think it is time for me to give leadership to the younger generation,” he said. “She (Scott) has demonstrated excellent skills in leadership and administration and will help lead the younger physicians.”

Gurbin said it is the people he has worked with that have made his job enjoyable.

“It is the people for sure – both patients and people I have worked with over the years. We’ve been fortunate to have good physicians; terrific people to work with and learn from. Our patients here are tremendous.”

Gurbin said he continues to treat patients who have been with him since he started practising.

“I’m looking after kids of kids that I delivered.”

The Kincardine Canada Day committee will recognize Gurbin’s achievement during the Canada Day ceremony at the bottom of Harbour Street on Friday.