Rural doctor and flood hero honoured for outstanding work
RURAL doctors are renowned for their hard work and links with the community and Theodore's Dr Bruce Chater is no exception.
Dr Chater was recognised by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and the Rural Doctors Association of Autralia last week with the Peter Graham "Cohuna" award.
The award, named after the legendary doctor who gave 50 years of care inrural Victoria, distinguishes other outstanding doctors.
Dr Chater, who was unable to attend the ceremony because of surgery for prostate cancer, was recognised for his long-term dedication to the Theodore community, plus his work during the 2011 floods.
"(My wife and I) jokingly say that we're 31 years into our two-year plan to live in Theodore," Dr Chater said.
The Theodore community, consisting of about 500 in the township and 1000 out in the district, is the first town ever in Queensland to be completely evacuated.
"Theodore was completely inundated except for strip of about 200m of land, which in great Queensland tradition included the pub," Dr Chater said.
The most lovely thing about working in rural towns is the partnerships.
"We took a bit of a hit for a while with things. We actually bulk billed everyone for nearly nine months, just basically to share the pain with everyone.
"Everyone was suffering and we didn't want to add to that suffering over that time.
"It was a community member that approached me after nine months and said, 'Okay Bruce, you've done enough, you should probably go back and run your business as it should be run'."
For Dr Chater, seeing the fruits of his labour is what keeps him at his job.
"The most lovely thing about working in rural towns is the partnerships," he said.
"Between you and the community. Between you and the patients. It's that ability to work with people about their condition to understand them and hopefully make a difference."
Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine president, Professor Richard Murray, said the word "legendary" was not used lightly to describe Dr Chater and his dedication, both in providing care in his community of Theodore and to his advocacy for generalist rural medicine at the state, national and international level.
"He is extraordinarily effective in both worlds and is an inspiration to many others," Prof Murray said.
"Bruce is a most deserving recipient of this award."