2011’s RPAP Award of Distinction recipient was a rural Alberta physician who dedicated a quarter century of medical service to his community.
Dr. Llewellyn Schwegmann, who had provided medical services for the community of Valleyview and the surrounding M.D. of Greenview for 25 years, was selected by the RPAP Board of Directors for the honour. According to Dr. Clayne Steed, Chairman of the RPAP Board of Directors, the decision was based on criteria such as involvement and impact on the community, as well as leadership and commitment to medicine in the community over the years.
“The board was pleased to select Dr. Schwegmann for his broad scope of clinical practice, his work with the community to develop a new clinic and his contributions in a number of areas including teaching and medical leadership,” says Dr. Steed.
Dr. Steed also remarked that the board was impressed with the breadth of support received by Dr. Schwegmann, which included recommendations from the municipal councils of Valleyview and Greenview, representatives of Alberta Health Services and administrators from the local junior / senior high school.
Like so many physicians in rural Alberta, Dr. Llewellyn Schwegmann began his career continents away in his home country of South Africa. Graduating with a medical degree in 1979, Dr. Schwegmann spent the next seven years practicing in his homeland, before pulling up stakes for Valleyview, Alberta in April 1986.
Over the ensuing quarter century, Dr. Schwegmann held the position of Chief of Staff at the Valleyview Health Centre (since 1990); and the decade that followed he recruited ten physicians to the Valleyview community, mentoring all of them. He also gave freely of his time to serve on provincial organizations, including one term on the Board of the Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan (Oct. 2006 to Feb.2009), and two terms on committees of the Alberta Medical Association.
Dr. Schwegmann’s work ethic and commitment were lauded by all who nominated him. One individual described the doctor’s rigorous daily routine as follows:
“A regular day sees Dr. Schwegmann visiting patients admitted to the Valleyview Health Center and attending the hospital's emergency clinic, prior to arriving at his clinic practice where he is booked weeks in advance. His day doesn't always end there, as with only two other doctors on staff, it is necessary that he be on call at the hospital every second or third night. This entails attending to anywhere from ten to thirty patients per night at the hospital's emergency clinic and he must also be available for any other emergency or delivery that may occur through that night. He is definitely the glue that holds our medical community together.”
While his commitment to maintaining the health of the local committee left little time for community involvement, it was also noted that Dr. Schwegmann had supported and served as physician for the local Jet's Hockey team for many years. Dr. Schwegmann was also renowned as an avid outdoorsman and hunter.
Another co-worker of Dr. Schwegmann described him as: “…passionate, dedicated and empathetic…. truly a pillar of our community.”
“At times of heartbreak he is that arm around your shoulder or that voice consoling you. At times of joy he wholeheartedly joins the celebrations. At time of crisis he maintains the calm and provides direction. We have all had the pleasure of listening to one of his many hunting stories over the years. The nursing staff takes pride in being able to pull a practical joke on him and likewise a few of us have been the recipient of a joke ourselves. He had dedicated his career to rural family medicine and we have been fortunate to have him call Valleyview home.”
Family and friends were among the 145 invited guests who attended an outdoor celebration at the Valleyview Riverside Golf Course on 22 July 2011 honouring Dr. Schwegmann. Following a barbeque featuring lamb, wild boar and prime rib roasted on spits, guests were treated to many tributes and entertainment from members of the Valleyview Health Centre. After much merriment, Dr. Schwegmann was presented with the Award of Distinction and a painting by Dr. Steed.
With the commencement of a program by RPAP a year earlier to provide funding for a legacy in the physician’s community, Dr. Schwegmann designated the funding towards an indoor swimming pool for Valleyview, a project that appears very close to commencing.
A few weeks after the highly successful ceremony, Dr. Schwegmann was also presented with a Chief Joseph Pendelton Blanket by the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, a special designation honouring the recipient as a warrior.
Dr. Schwegmann continues to practice in Valleyview to this day.
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