Dr. du Plessis arrives as physician to help boost health of Stettler

Seventh physician for Stettler – Dr. Abrie du Plessis with his wife Dr. Adele Senekal

Seventh physician for Stettler – Dr. Abrie du Plessis with his wife Dr. Adele Senekal

Dr. Abrie du Plessis has arrived as the newest physician in Stettler to raise the number of medical doctors serving the community to seven.

“I saw several other communities and Stettler made a good impression,” said Dr. du Plessis, who is based at Heartland Medical Clinic, with three other doctors from South Africa.

Stettler may eventually get an eighth physician as his wife Dr. Adele Senekal also has credentials as a general practictioner.

Dr. Senekal and their daughter Adele, two-and-a-half years old, and son Jean, seven, plan to move to Stettler early in 2010 after their son finishes the school year in December.

“She wants to get back into regular practice in Stettler in the New Year,” said Dr. du Plessis, who started in Stettler on Aug. 13.

For the past six years, the two practised their profession at a medical clinic in Mokopane, South Africa, a community of about 20,000, before serving in hospitals all over South Africa for two years.

Promoting a healthy community with healthy people is the prime focus of physicians, like Dr. du Plessis.

“We want to treat all patients, to keep them healthy and better their lives,” said Dr. du Plessis.

“We want to get enough doctors so they don’t have to wait two to three weeks to see a doctor.”

Stettler has been in the hearts of the new physician since he was first notified by Dr. Phil Vogel just over a year ago that the small rural town was recruiting another physician.

“He painted a nice picture of the whole community,” said Dr. du Plessis.

“I like small towns.”

After visiting the region last November, the new physician and his wife were sold on the community and opportunity as they were hosted by the Stettler Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee under Stettler Regional Board of Trade and Community Development.

“Stettler is a nice community with friendly people,” said Dr. du Plessis.

“The community treated us very warm and was welcoming.”

“People are always open to talk and help out.”

He specially appreciated the friendly and strong support from Keith Ryder, executive director of the board of trade.

While keeping busy adjusting to his new community and work, the doctor also enjoys keeping himself healthy and happy.

“I love golf and hunting,” said Dr. du Plessis.

And he also likes to fly high.

“I’m going to get my pilot’s licence soon.”

Before starting work in Stettler, Dr. du Plessis completed a two-week practicum in Ponoka after he presented his credentials to the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons and successfully completed the interview process with the college.