Surgeon Kevin Chambers will be forever enshrined in Mildura’s memory and the image that now adorns the wall in Mildura Base Public Hospital’s (MBPH) courtyard is symbolic of the man who for 37 years walked the corridors of the hospital, teaching, helping and comforting everyone who came into contact with him.
Mr Chambers arrived in Mildura in 1983 after completing his training at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.
He was lured to the region by long-time friend Dr Terry Cook, who he had met and worked with during a medical posting in New Guinea in 1976. When Mr Chambers returned from a stint working in London, he no longer had a position at the hospital in Sydney, and Dr Cook suggested he follow his lead and move to the isolated town in the north-west of Victoria. In many respects, it was a life-changing moment for the growing town.
Not only did Mildura retain the services of a brilliant surgeon, but also a man who was determined to improve the long-term health care of the community.
Mr Chambers’ dedication in training the next generation of doctors will go down in medical folklore, not just in Mildura, but across the country, where his reputation was well known.
In the storytelling of his life, registrars who had learnt under his guidance described how his kind and approachable manner made for a dynamic teaching environment, where any question was welcomed. He introduced the “grand round” at Mildura Base Public Hospital, where surgeons would walk the wards to talk to their patients, followed by the team of junior doctors.
He was also a man not afraid to stand up for causes that he believed in. Part of his legacy will be linked to the hospital management in Mildura reverting to public hands after a long fight. Mr Chambers’ contributions also extended to the arts community in Mildura, as well as serving on hospital boards and the Mildura Hospital Fund.
There are a lot of adjectives to describe him and all of them would be true.
He was a big man with a big heart who did a lot of good things for a lot of people.
And he never counted favours. He just did them and moved on.
During his long and distinguished medical career Mr Chambers was honoured with many awards including:
• The Victorian Rural Health Award for outstanding contribution to the community 2010,
• Recipient of the General Surgeons of Australia Excellence in Surgical Teaching Award for Victoria/Tasmania in 2017, and
• Recipient of the Order of Australia Medal in 2018 for service to medicine and the community of Mildura.
As the Director of Surgery at MBPH, Mr Chambers combined his strong leadership, extensive knowledge and experience and love of teaching to mentor and guide his peers and the junior surgical registrars in training.
His legacy is immeasurable and will live on forever.