Dr Robert Favaloro looks back on his 45 years as a GP at Engadine

Dr Robert Favaloro and his wife Gail, who was the medical centre's first practice nurse. Picture: Chris Lane
Dr Robert Favaloro and his wife Gail, who was the medical centre's first practice nurse. Picture: Chris Lane

Doctor Robert Favaloro has hung up his stethoscope after 45 years caring for the health needs of residents in the Engadine area.

The popular and highly respected GP grew up in Mortdale and attended Marist Brothers Kogarah before studying medicine at the University of Sydney.

He graduated in 1972 and, after training at St George and Sutherland hospitals, took a job at Engadine in 1975 - and remained for the rest of his career.

Dr Favaloro's wife Gail was the first practice nurse at Engadine Family Medical Practice.

The couple, who lived in Engadine and were very involved in the community, have sold up and moved to their farm, named Providence, at Goulburn, where they have planted more than 3000 trees over 10 years and are involved with the local climate action group.

Dr Robert Favaloro as the farmer. Picture: supplied

Dr Robert Favaloro as the farmer. Picture: supplied

Paul Hunt, a long-time patient, said Dr Favaloro had been "a good and faithful servant to residents of Engadine and its environs from his arrival in 1975".

"At the same time, he was the father of three beautiful daughters, who followed him in professional careers," Mr Hunt said.

"His wife, Gail, a well-qualified nurse, was of considerable support as Dr Favaloro dispensed his wide variety of skills, both medical and psychological, at a time when doctors needed to be multi-skilled.

"My family and I were so fortunate to have been his patients during most of this time.

"I say without hesitation that he saved my life and that of many patients through his incredibly perceptive analysis of illnesses and his detailed prescriptions of treatment needed."

Dr Favaloro said he had loved his years in Engadine.

"They are the most wonderful people," he said.

"It's a good area in which to practice because you still have those personal relationships. You don't have people coming and going - they are pretty permanent."

COVID-19 sparked his decision to retire at 72.

He took some time off in April when the pandemic hit and realised his "passion for farm life".

"We often feel like the Green Acres couple," Dr Favaloro wrote in a farewell to residents of John Paul Village (St Vincent's Care Services), where he was a frequent visitor, often at night and on weekends.

"I always felt GP was my calling, and I was excited but apprehensive when I joined Dr Peter Schiller in 1975," he recalled.

"This was at 1009 Old Princes Highway, behind a hamburger shop. The site was well known (justifiably) as Cockroach Corner."

Dr Favaloro took over the practice in 1977 and was joined by Dr Anu Alexander in 1979.

The practice moved in 1984 to larger premises at 3 Station Street and was joined by Dr Yvonne Fernandez and later Dr Paul Schacher.

"We were 'the team' for many years," he said.

"We kept growing so we expanded into No 1 Station Street with major renovations in 1994."

Dr Favaloro said he had "many wonderful memories".

"I remember delivering a baby, at night, in the front passenger seat of a car," he said. "I wrapped the baby in dad's cardigan.

"I remember transferring very ill patients to hospital in their own car, because of the delay in getting an ambulance to Engadine.

"I thanked God when the patient arrived alive at Accident and Emergency (and they all did). We are so fortunate with ambulance support these days.

"I remember arriving at the practice one morning to hear a baby gasping with presumed epiglottis. We can be thankful for immunisations - they prevent so many diseases."

Dr Favaloro said his new "simple rustic life is certainly a step towards peace".

"There is a spirituality in the open spaces. I have learnt to depend much less on logic and more on my 'inner voice'."

Dr Favaloro said the 3000 trees they had planted on their farm, mainly bordering the paddocks, were already great windbreaks and provided wildlife habitat.

"We are active in volunteering in community gardens and in the local climate action group in Goulburn. I enjoy the RFS (even fought the recent fires)."