News

Paediatrician ‘with the health of Tamariki at heart’ retires

23 December 2020

Draped in a korowai and wearing a precious taonga gifted from Te Kaha Medical Centre, Dr John Malcolm was honoured for his outstanding career by staff at Whakatāne Hospital earlier this week (Monday).

Paediatrician ‘with the health of Tamariki at heart’ retires
Dr John Malcolm (centre) with his whānau, including hospital teams, who gathered to honour him on his retirement from clinical practice.

The Paediatrician is retiring from clinical practice and many people turned out to honour the incredible contribution he’s made to rural health, Māori health, the health of Tamariki across Hauora a Toi, the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and beyond.

It was the second large gathering of people to honour the wealth of experience, commitment and compassion Dr Malcolm displayed over a long and distinguished career. At the weekend, Hauora community providers gathered in Tāneatua. 

Starship Paediatric Cardiologist Associate Professor Nigel Wilson, along with Otago University Public Health researcher Keri Lawson-Te Aho, travelled to the Eastern Bay for the occasion paying tribute to Dr Malcolm’s rheumatic fever prevention work.

Dr Malcolm has been at Whakatāne Hospital for 13 years. During his career he’s had many research papers published and received many accolades for his work including, in 2015, the prestigious Royal Australasian College of Physicians Rural and Remote Medal for 25 years’ of service in the Bay of Plenty region.

Humbled and honoured by the award Dr Malcolm was quick to point out at the time, that the success is one of teamwork. “You go to Tāneatua and in a crowded room you're working with the EBPHA, public health, six iwi-based Hauora and other health providers helping improve the health of school kids, that's very gratifying,” he said.

At his farewell function at Whakatāne Hospital on Monday, many people spoke of John’s traits of humility, generosity, compassion and commitment. 

His colleague, Paediatrician Richard Forster, described him as “an extraordinary fellow.” “This year he’s written seven papers which is amazing.” He added, “Rheumatic fever has had a devastating effect on this community and John’s done more than his fair share to try to fix it.”

These sentiments were echoed by Toi Te Ora Medical Officer of Health Phil Shoemack, who first worked with John in Rotorua in the 1990s.

“The big challenge through the 90s was Meningococcal disease. I’d often get calls from John saying I think we’ve got another child with this disease, he was always right.” 

Te Kaha GP Rachel Thomson, who first worked with Dr Malcolm when she was a junior doctor at Rotorua Hospital, recalled many stories from this time right to the present. She said his compassion and working manner with the Te Kaha Team and their patients was always truly appreciated.

Dr Thomson highlighted his ability to kōrero Māori in a way that put whānau at ease. On behalf of the Te Kaha Team she presented Dr Malcolm with a precious taonga carved from ōnewa from the Raukokore River.

Dr Malcolm was also presented with a korowai and other gifts from Whakatāne Hospital.

Although he has retired from clinical practice, Dr Malcolm has been appointed BOPDHB Clinician Emeritus enabling him to continue his research work and be available to pass on his knowledge to junior doctors and other health professionals in the region.