Enough practice

Dr. Brodie Lantz retires from family practice after 47 years

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on September 15, 2012
Dr. Brodie Lantz says he "can't imagine having done anything else'' after enjoying a 47-year family medicine practice in Charlottetown.
Guardian photo by Jim Day

Dr. Brodie Lantz was always a busy, busy doctor.

He grew his Charlottetown family medicine practice to roughly 3,500 patients, seeing on average 40 to 50 in a day. Toss in decades of delivering babies, doing rounds at nursing homes and an early stint in the emergency room, the affable physician always ensured that he had a full slate.

Being so busy, it seems, made a lengthy, well-regarded career rocket past.

"The days fly by,'' said Lantz.

"The weeks fly by. I can't believe it's been 47 years.''

The 72-year-old Lantz retired from his successful family practice last month, but is not quite ready to hang the stethoscope up just yet.

He plans to continue making the rounds at three nursing homes and two community care facilities once a week while being available for consultation calls from those five facilities seven days a week.

"I can't sit around,'' said Lantz.

"I didn't want to 'boom' suddenly do nothing. It gives me something to think about when I get up in the morning.''

He used to manage the stress of his heavy workload by mixing in pleasurable activities during the hectic workweek. Wednesday afternoons were reserved for golf. And usually two nights a week, typically around 11 p.m., he would lace up the skates for recreational hockey.

A trim and tanned Lantz who had the good fortune to be allergic to tobacco described his health today as good with only some minor issues.

In addition to curling, playing golf and tennis, Lantz hits the gym five times a week with his wife, Charlotte, who retired last year after working a dozen years in real estate.

Lantz was an athletic lad who grew up on Brighton Road across from Victoria Park, learning to skate on Dead Man's Pond. He was big into hockey.

The youngest of four children to Dorothy and Dr. Joe Lantz, he was the only one of the four to go on to pursue medicine.

His brother Rory died of Multiple Sclerosis 25 years ago. His sisters Elizabeth Abbott and Heather Smallman chose paths quite different to their father: an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist who was one of the founders in 1929 of the Polyclinic, the first medical clinic in Prince Edward Island.

Lantz says his father never nudged him to become a doctor. Thoughts of a medical profession, though, perhaps seeped into Lantz's psyche as he was growing up.

He recalls wondering what the heck all those tools of the trade were when he peeked into his father's "laundry bag of instruments'' that would be carted in the car from one hospital to the next.

Still, Lantz didn't have a clue what he wanted to do when he first attended university. He quickly discovered that it wasn't business so he left that program at UNB to enroll in pre-med at Dalhousie University the following year.

That proved a more fitting choice. At Dal, he not only picked up his medical degree but met Charlotte who would go on to get her science degree but become a stay-at-home mom to the couple's daughter Sara (now an accountant with Service Canada) and three well-known Charlottetown boys: Jeff the judge, Chris the emergency room doctor, and Rob the Charlottetown councilor.

After graduating, Lantz took over Dr. Ron Drysdale's practice at the Polyclinic one year after Lantz's father retired. Drysdale, who worked two doors down doing consulting, would serve as Lantz's mentor for a good 15 years or so.

Lantz quickly discovered a family practice offered plenty of diversity.

"You saw everything,'' he said.

"You didn't know what was coming through the door (one patient from the next).''

Lantz allowed what was initially a medium-sized practice to grow to one of the largest in the province.

He looked after several of the same patients for more than 40 years, making good acquaintances and even strong friends along the way.

"You know all their family history, where all the kids have gone,'' he said.

He also cherished his two decades in obstetrics, delivering some 300 babies. Each delivery was a special event for Lantz.

"I would come home the night after delivering a baby: I was so wound up I couldn't sleep,'' he said.

While delivering a healthy baby was always a treat, delivering a potentially fatal diagnosis to a patient was a difficult task Lantz faced on average two or three times a month.

He vividly recalls telling a patient that he had acute leukemia only to have the man tell Lantz that it must have been difficult to pass on such dreadful news.

"It never gets any easier,'' said Lantz.

"You never know what the response is going to be.''

He still marvels at how cancer can take a life within a month while others live for years and years with the disease.

He has a patient who is also a personal friend that was given three to five years to live after being diagnosed with cancer. Eleven years later, his friend is alive and cancer free.

Lantz says he has leaned on a patient, non-confrontational approach with his patients. He tries to be "diplomatic'' in advising patients that are living an unhealthy lifestyle to make necessary changes.

"I think I listen very well,' he added.

"I try not to get upset with aggressive patients.''

As for the state of health care on P.E.I., Lantz also shows diplomacy.

"There are a lot of short comings but it's surviving,'' he said.

"People are well served here. Sometimes they wait too long for consultations.''

He adds the provincial players are "doing all they can'' to recruit physicians.

Lantz is certainly pleased that he chose to practice on P.E.I. He never gave any serious consideration to moving.

"It's a great place to bring up a family,'' he said.

"It's an easy place to practice.''

And Lantz, who served as president of the P.E.I. Red Cross Society, president of the Charlottetown Minor Hockey Association and as a representative with the National Advisory Council for Fitness and Amateur Sport, notes emphatically that devoting to a career in medicine has proven to be most rewarding.

"I can't imagine having done anything else, really,'' he said.