NEARLY half a century, 59,000 patient files and a whole lot of “yarns” later, Invercargill clinic owner Dr Ajit Johri has hung up his stethoscope for the last time.
It has been 43 years since he and his wife Annabelle started their clinic at 69 Don St.
While Dr Johri said there was nothing more rewarding than seeing a patient recover, it was time for “the fantastic journey” to end retirement at 72 years old.
“I’ve just enjoyed every bit of it but I don’t think I could have done it without Mrs Johri by my side.
“We’re companions, what she’s thinking, I’m thinking, and we just get on with it.”
The pair, both with medical backgrounds, had worked side-by-side from the beginning, seven days a week and often into the early hours of the morning due to demand.
“We’ve never changed our focus which is to provide top-class care, we love our patients.”
From offering family medical care to sports, travel and industrial trauma services, patients from throughout the world had made their way through their doors never been refused.
Originally from New Delhi, Dr Johri started as one of the few house surgeons at Southland Hospital in 1972.
From working as a junior and then a senior house surgeon, he went on to become an orthopaedic and surgical registrar before adding to his extensive list of qualifications and acknowledgements as a seasoned academic, in New Zealand and internationally.
Since taking over the clinic in 1977, he continued to collect roles including becoming the official doctor for a myriad of government departments, almost every Southland sports team and their events, as well as several major industries in the region.
While the list of awards he had been given appeared to go on forever, including an Officer Brother Order of St Johns by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, caring for his patients in Invercargill was the highlight of his career, he said.
“We’ve often seen five generations of the same family through family medical care.
“Everyone says they’ll miss the care but the yarns were the greatest part.”
As well as the conversations, the laughs along the way had been the most memorable time a patient laughed so hard her dentures flew out and he caught them.
While his passion for sports medicine was far reaching, cycling had always held a special place in his heart.
“I’ve looked after many cyclists over the years who have gone on to be Olympic and Commonwealth athletes.
“We’ve seen cyclists fall all over the track, we fix them up and they go back on the track,” he said with a laugh.
His involvement with Cycling Southland and hundreds of events at the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome in Invercargill were a testament to his affinity to the sport.
“When you walk into the Velodrome, the adrenaline is just flowing. We just love it.”
As for what was next, the Johris would be retiring to Auckland to be closer to family.
However, there was no doubt in Dr Johri’s mind he would ever stop learning.