Thank you, Dr. Cormier! Richmond’s last doctor retires

By Nick Fonda

At the end of March, after a third of a century of curing the aches and pains of the people of Richmond and vicinity, Dr. Charles Cormier officially closed his office and took down his shingle. What began as a three-month internship at the CLSC on Barlow Street during his second year of medical school unexpectedly blossomed into a career spent almost entirely in the small town of Richmond.
“It wasn’t a plan,” the recently-retired doctor said. “It just happened that way. The CLSC invited me to join their staff. I liked it here, in part because a significant percentage of the population is English speaking. ­Richmond was a place I felt I could be useful.”
Charles Cormier spent ten years at the CLSC before the desire for a change led him to start sharing an office with Dr. Claude Gilbert.
“For Dr. Gilbert, it represented a bit of respite from being on call 24 hours a day, in addition to his office hours, house calls, and rounds at the Wales Home. With two doctors in the office, each of us had at least some time off.”
The arrangement lasted little more than a year. The two doctors got along well, but when, in an effort to trim health care budgets, the Parti Québecois government offered very attractive retirement packages to doctors over the age of 55, Dr. Gilbert opted for the golden parachute, quit the practice, and returned to his native Victoriaville.
Dr. Cormier ran his practice alone for half a year before he was joined at the Clinique Médicale Richmond by Dr. Serge Ethier and later Dr. Anne-Marie Cusson. Both retired some two years ago.
Now, with the retirement of Dr. Charles Cormier, Richmond and the surrounding area will be without a medical doctor in private practice for the first time in almost 200 years.
Dr. Cormier worked actively to find a doctor to replace him and take over his practice. Unfortunately, given the provincial government’s rules and manpower restrictions, no new family physician was interested in moving to Richmond.
For his part, Charles Cormier ended up travelling quite a ways to become a doctor in the Eastern Townships.
“I’m from Moncton,” he said, “and I grew up with both languages. I went to school in French but played neighbourhood street hockey in English. I started my studies at the University of Moncton but I opted to do my medical studies elsewhere. I could have gone to Memorial University in St. John’s, to Dartmouth in Halifax, to the Université de Montreal, or to the Université de Sherbrooke.”
“When the time came to make a decision,” he continued, “I opted for Sherbrooke for two reasons. One was that I wanted to improve my French. The Acadian accent is quite pronounced, and the language uses a lot of English. By studying in Quebec I’d be able to improve my spoken French at the same time that I learned medicine. Sherbrooke was more appealing than Montreal because its program could be completed in four years instead of five.”

See full story in the Monday, April 27 edition of The Record.

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