10 February 2022

Closure of Byrne Surgery Clinic after 38 years.

6. Treating dependency patients … retirement of Dr Andrew Byrne.

 It has been my privilege to treat thousands of dependency patients over 35 years in our medical practice in Redfern, an inner suburb of Sydney, Australia.  Just as smokers are sometimes the most interesting people at a party, drug users have often led extraordinary lives punctuated by risk taking, harrowing stories, personal interactions and more.  Some of the most talented people in our society also suffer from drug and alcohol dependence, and many die young due to prevailing circumstances (brilliant artist Brett Whiteley was one of many local examples). 

 A majority of my opioid maintenance patients did not finish school and are lower socio-economic citizens.  They now mostly live on social services in public housing with family and friends away from poverty and crime with access to medical, mental health and vocational facilities in our relatively well served area.  Many were victims of abuse as children and many have been from the Aboriginal stolen generations.  A substantial minority, however, are school teachers, nurses, tradies, drivers, business people, etc.  A small number have been university educated professionals.  There were doctors, lawyers, academics and even one police officer in this group over the years. 

 After a difficult 2 years dealing with the Covid pandemic and all the other ‘normal’ stresses of running a business I have decided to close our clinic and seek quieter pastures in semi-retirement.  My thanks to the many local doctors, clinics, pharmacies and hospitals who have offered to take on my current opioid maintenance patients.  And apologies to these patients for the disruption caused. 

 I also propose to continue writing about comparative Abrahamic religions having been a fellow-traveller in a major Sydney synagogue as well as a mosque for over a decade.  In both places I have been accorded a substantial welcome despite being a secular outsider.  Cantorial cross-over culture (cantorialcrossoverculture.blogspot.com)

 Piano, opera, astronomy and cooking are also my regular pastimes as my regular readers will know. 

 Best regards, Andrew Byrne ..