Popular GP Senthooran Balasingam (Dr Sen) leaves Guyra

Dr Senthooran Balasingam (centre), with wife Dr Vibisha Suntharamurthy and daughter Harishnee Senthooran. Photo: Nicholas Fuller
Dr Senthooran Balasingam (centre), with wife Dr Vibisha Suntharamurthy and daughter Harishnee Senthooran. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

Guyra locals filled Juneils cafe on Saturday morning to farewell popular GP Senthooran Balasingam (best-known in the community as "Dr Sen") and his family.

"This is a really sad day for us," former mayor Robyn Jackson said. "You have melded so well into our community; you've been kind and caring, and looked after the health of so many people here."

The Sri Lanka-born GP came to Guyra in 2013, working under Dr Thampapillai Jeyakumar ("Dr Jey").

He will move to Singleton, to work as a GP in a medical practice and in the hospital's emergency ward.

"Whoever gets you's going to get a gold mine," one woman said. "You've been compassionate and enthusiastic."

Dr Sen thanked Guyrans for their support and love, and urged patients to stick with the medical centre.

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Dr Sen studied medicine for eight and a half years in Sri Lanka before coming to Australia in 2011. A member of the Tamil minority, he and his brother left the island due to ethnic strife.

He worked first at Rockhampton Hospital, then as an emergency registrar at Sydney's Blacktown Hospital, studying to get Australian qualifications and advanced training.

When Dr Sen came to Guyra practice, Dr Jeyakumar was the only doctor, 360 days on call at the hospital, and running a busy medical centre to boot.

Dr Sen joined the practice as a registrar: a fully qualified doctor, able to work in any emergency, but who lacked GP experience. He gained his GP credentials in 2016.

By that time, he had become an Australian citizen (2014), and married Dr Vibisha Suntharamurthy, who later practised in Armidale. The couple have one daughter, Harishnee Senthooran.

"We had a hard time at first," Dr Sen remembered. "I didn't tell her I worked after hours!"

The first night, he had patients at 10pm, 12, and 3am. "Is this the job you're going to do for your lifetime?" his wife asked.

She accompanied Dr Sen every time he went on night shift, and became friendly with staff and locals alike.

Dr Jey and Dr Sen built up the practice, with the help of a dedicated staff and local support. They used to see 100 patients a day.

Today, the practice has three doctors. Dr Anitha Jandrasupalli joined in February from a Melbourne hospital, while Dr Sen's replacement will arrive soon.

One man thought the number of people who turned up to say farewell was a tribute and a credit to Dr Sen, while Daniel Wischer praised his work, skills, and heart.

Retired Northern Tablelands sector GM Wendy Mulligan thanked Dr Sen and his family both on behalf of Hunter New England Health and Guyra MPS, and as a friend.

Colleagues and staff wished Dr Sen well. "Wherever he goes, he will do a great job," practice manager Indrani Jeyakumar said.