Dr Nick Thies stepping back

AFTER almost four decades, South West Healthcare (SWH) Director of Paediatrics Dr Nick Thies is planning for some weeknight and weekend relaxation.

Dr Thies has been on-call for paediatric emergencies and births for the past 37 years, but at the end of July, will step away from that hectic schedule.

He will not be lost to the south-west medical community as he will continue seeing patients in his rooms at SWH paediatrics centre.

During this time on-call, Dr Thies said he has been present for the birth of “thousands of babies.”

“People think I deliver babies but I don’t, the obstetricians deliver the baby,” Dr Thies said.

“As soon as that happens, the baby is given to me to look after and make sure it’s OK. Breathing is the main thing we have to check. I have looked after the babies of parents who I was also there when they were born so that is nice, it’s very rewarding.

“It’s a privilege to be allowed to look after babies, not everyone gets to interact with babies and help in those formative days.”

Originally from Melbourne, Dr Thies first came to Warrnambool as a medical student and returned for a year as a junior resident doctor in the early 1970s.

After stints in London and major children hospitals in Melbourne, Dr Thies moved to Warrnambool in 1980.

At the time, he was the only paediatrician at the Warrnambool Base Hospital.

This meant a heavy workload, with Dr Thies on-call for births and other emergencies for his first eight years in Warrnambool.

The arrival of another paediatrician eased the workload with the pair sharing the on-call duties for the next 17 years. The cavalry arrived 12 years ago with the recruitment of more paediatricians, cutting the out-of-hours workload further.

While he is looking forward to more time to pursue other interests such as his hobbies of being a magician, playing violin and spending more time with family, Dr Thies looks back fondly on those early, frantic days past.

“You had to be on your mettle to deal with all the unexpected things that happened,” Dr Thies said. 

“In those years when I was the onIy one on-call, I still managed to fit everything else in. We had a young family, I used to go running, make furniture and look after the kids, in your 30s and 40s you can do anything.”