When asked what’s kept him practicing in Sylvan Lake for so long, “people” is the one-word response from Dr. Fred Janke, who earlier this month celebrated 30 of years working in town.
He and his colleagues at Sylvan Family Health Centre celebrated the milestone with cake, decorations and a colourful sidewalk display earlier this month.
“Part of what I think distinguishes family medicine from much of the rest of medicine is that we develop long-term relationships with our patients,” he said. “That is what I get the most fulfillment out of.”
Janke began forming those relationships in 1984, when he joined Sylvan Lake Medical Clinic. After spending four years there, he decided to form Sylvan Family Health Centre where he’s been ever since, and where he now works alongside eight other physicians.
Since relocating from Calgary, where he completed his master’s and medical degrees and his residency, his love for Sylvan Lake has always remained strong.
That, he assures, is because of its people.
“The people of the town have always been very welcoming and very open-armed to me, and always very supportive,” he said, also acknowledging the role his colleagues have played in the clinic’s success.
“I think we form an extremely good team, and a very well-functioning team that is constantly looking ahead and looking at how we can improve. Being in that kind of environment is very positive, and very affirming.”
With time comes plenty of change, however, and that’s something Janke has seen no shortage of while here.
When he first arrived, Sylvan Lake’s population was around 3,000. Today, that number sits closer to 13,000, and with that growth has come a loss of sorts.
“When I first came here, I came to know pretty much everyone in town,” he said. “Now it’s a town of 13,000, with a much broader population around the town as well, I don’t feel like I nearly know as many people as I did before.”
Janke doesn’t see himself leaving Sylvan Lake any time in the near future.
Although his position as Director of Rural and Regional Health with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry sees him divide his time today almost evenly between Edmonton and Sylvan Lake, he’s still very much a ‘Laker’.
“Part of my negotiation with the university was, in fact, that I could continue with my practice in Sylvan Lake, and the university graciously agreed to that,” he said. “As far as I can see, I’m going to say I’m here for the duration.”