His old office packed up in boxes, Dr. Robert Lampard says he has mountains to climb.
That’s no metaphor.
The longtime medical director of Michener Centre in Red Deer retired last month and on Friday came back to work for a retirement party planned for him by staff.
He’s left the centre, but the avid mountaineer and amateur historian has lots to occupy his time.
Retiring from writing books about the history of medicine in Alberta and the Rotary Club has proven much more of a challenge.
“The hard part is people keep asking me for pictures, presentations, or helping to author more books,” Lampard said on Friday morning, explaining why the habit’s been so hard to shake.
As medical director for 27 years, Lampard has experienced, and in many cases guided, some periods of significant change at Michener Centre, a residential facility for people with developmental disabilities.
There are about 250 patients left at the centre, for instance, which is about one-tenth its maximum capacity in the 1970s, he said.
As medical director, his job has been to maintain the quality of medical care provided to residents through a series of clinics on site by “exceptional” specialists and general practitioners, in what he says is an unusual system of care.
“The residents can’t always tell you what the problem is, so you have to rely on your basic medical skills of observation. We’ve had to put together a system that overcomes that challenge,” said Lampard.
He said sometimes Michener Centre was years ahead of the medical community, for instance in the monitoring of post-operative infections.
“We uncovered a significant rise in use of what are called psychotropic, or mind-altering, medications in the ’80s, and so we introduced a system to first of all reduce it where it wasn’t needed or where the doses were too high,” said Lampard.
“We were able to reduce our use of anti-psychotics by over 60 per cent.”
It was early in his career when another doctor “shepherded me back to books,” Lampard said, and he began collecting a library of historical tomes.
He noticed a big hole in the history of medicine in Canada and Alberta, and that’s where his hobby was born.
As a member and club historian of the Downtown Rotary, Lampard said he’s looking forward to continuing his work with that organization.
He said he’d also like to retrace the steps of Rotarian James Davidson, who founded chapters from Prague to Shanghai and is the subject of one of Lampard’s historical studies.