Barrhead welcomes new family physician from South Africa
Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 06:00 am
The Barrhead Clinic recently welcomed a friendly new face to their staff, one who could not be happier with his decision to move to rural Alberta.
Doctor Len Krantz was born, raised, and went to medical school in Bloemfontein, capital city of Free State, South Africa. After moving to work in Cape Town, South Africa for three years, he felt it was time for a change.
Although several clinics originally contacted him to see if he was interested in joining their community as a family physician, Krantz said he really connected with Dr. Frederik Wepener at the Barrhead Clinic.
“I clicked with Dr. Wepener. Out of nothing I said let’s go with Barrhead,” said Krantz. “They said, ‘you will enjoy it here.’”
Only after he made his decision to come to Barrhead did Krantz realize how closely connected to Wepener he was. As they continued to get to know one another, they discovered they had more in common than they thought.
“It’s actually really funny,” said Krantz. “We found out we went to the same med school in South Africa a few years apart.”
The world gets even smaller. Not only did the two doctors attend the same medical school, they discovered they lived two streets over from one another in as well.
Krantz’s desire to go to medical school came from the admiration he had, and still has, for his father. Not only was he also a doctor, but one of Krantz’s heroes.
“The funny thing is, he never told me to go be a doctor, or to follow in his footsteps at all,” he said. “I was interested in what he was doing. How he treated patients was something I looked up to.”
However becoming a doctor was not his only aspiration. Krantz also played rugby, and when he was accepted into med school he was also selected to play rugby provincially.
Krantz tried to juggle both school and the sport he loved, but eventually realized he had to make a choice.
Though he misses rugby, his injured shoulders and three operations were enough for Krantz to realize he made the right decision giving up the sport.
“I definitely miss it. In the end, it was good that I stopped,” he said. “It was the right thing for the future, and I’m loving what I’m doing. Now I’m happy.”
As a doctor, Krantz said building relationships with his patients is both important, and his favourite part of the job.
“I love being a family physician because you get to know your patients,” he said. “I like to work with people and see progress. To be able to follow someone up, that’s what I love.”
Building relationships is a goal of his as well. Coming into such a welcoming community has been nothing short of wonderful, he said, and for now the young doctor just wants to give back.
“I want to get to a point where the community will think, ‘It’s good having him here,’” said Krantz. “There’s nothing spectacular I want to achieve, I just want my patients to feel it was worthwhile meeting me.”
When Krantz made the 28 hour flight from South Africa to Alberta at the end of April, this was the first time the doctor had ever been to Canada.
The day after he landed was also the first time seeing something else: snow.
In South Africa, Krantz said it was considered extremely cold when the temperature dropped to eight below zero. Although he had seen frost before, snow that stayed on the ground was something foreign.
“I was running around taking pictures and Dr. Wepener told me, ‘please don’t let anyone see you taking pictures of the snow,’” laughed Krantz. “I was very excited.”
Besides the snow, being in a rural area is a big change for Krantz and his family. Barrhead is isolated in a way, he said, but he likes the peace and quiet that comes with living in the countryside.
“It’s much slower here, which is nice for a change,” he said. “I’m definitely not one for the rush of life.”
He, his wife and his 17-month-old daughter are settling in quite nicely. Barrhead is a warm and welcome community, said Krantz, and the young family has been nothing but blessed since they arrived.
“We’re thankful towards the community for being so open and accommodating to me, my wife and the little one,” said Krantz. “ We love the farming community and the rural area. It’s beautiful for us and we’re enjoying it, definitely.”