Friends' years of practice

The launch 40 years ago was more than the start of Mosgiel Health Centre. It was the beginning of life-long friendships.

Joan Hammer, of Mosgiel, said as an ''original receptionist'' she had not known the other receptionists before the practice formed.

Happy 40th: here's to good health

They had sometimes had brief dealings with one another, but had not really known each other.

''The doctors wanted us to be a big happy family, and we just all bundled in together, and we did the job.''

And ''on the whole'' the team was very happy, becoming life-long friends.

They still meet every three months for lunch in Mosgiel.

''There's about 20 of us still around.''

The systems were manual to start with, she said, recalling the introduction of computers in the 1980s as a ''great learning curve''.

Back in 1974, the reception team had much work to set up a patient filing system.

''We all managed, and we got everybody going, and away we went.''

Her favourite part of her job was contact with patients.

In those days, receptionists did triage work that is often now performed by practice nurses.

''It was a lovely time of my life,'' she said.

Her philosophy was to treat patients the way she would want to be treated.

''It's quite an interesting and special job being a receptionist.''

She remembered the visit in 1979 of a Chinese government minister, the attention reflecting the fact the practice was ahead of its time.

''We all had that feel of the place being special and we had to treat people properly and do your very best,'' Miss Hammer said.

Another original receptionist, Gaynor Grant (82), of Mosgiel, said the situation was new for all concerned when the centre opened.

''There was a wee bit of settling down to be done.

''In the finish, it worked very well.''

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