Paediatrician changes role after 37 years
Veteran paediatrician Peter Perinchief has been in the front line of children’s medicine in Bermuda for 37 years — and now he’s taking a step back into a consultant’s role.
Dr Perinchief, owner and physician at Edgewood Pediatric Services, on Richmond Road, finds his work fulfilling and has enjoyed seeing the huge medical and technological strides forward in medicine over recent decades.
Scores of Bermudians have been his patients in the practice that he set up in 1981 and which has had three different homes.
“The most satisfying part of paediatrics is that we are in a position to really do something, to intervene and change things,” he said.
Much has changed since the beginning. “When I first arrived back in Bermuda and opened my practice in 1981, I put my first baby on a respirator, and you should have seen the chaos.”
Thanks to a genetic revolution, doctors can now understand the biology of diseases that they could not 37 years ago, he added.
“The medical technology is moving even faster, it’s almost impossible to keep up, there’s too much information out there to absorb,” he added.
Although Dr Perinchief will work fewer hours after taking on a consulting role at the practice, he plans to continue doing research and providing new information to the two new hires, Kristen Woodward and Stephen Kenny.
“I have two paediatricians starting at the practice and I couldn’t be happier,” Dr Perinchief said. “I have known them all their lives. They were both my patients as children and they are coming back home to Bermuda. I plan to stay around because after doing this for all these years you do not just retire.”
When asked what makes a successful business he replied: “I don’t know how you measure success, the public perception of you is one thing, but it is actually what you accomplish that the public doesn’t know.”
Dr Perinchief stressed that his job has brought with it hard work and long hours.
“The hours are brutal, you can get a call all hours of the night to come in to work and take care of a disaster. But you get used to it after a while,” he added.
He recalled a time when he went 72 hours without sleep, having to care for three premature babies that were born one day after the other. “All the babies were 700 grammes, each one was very unstable.”
When asked about his thoughts on baby immunisation, he expressed strong views.
“In 2,500 years of medicine there have been a few big advancements,” Dr Perinchief said. “The first was the discovery of anaesthesia, which enables operations to be done, the second was the discovery that bacteria caused diseases and infection, the third big one was the development of immunisation to prevent contagious diseases which kill babies by the thousands.
“Of all the developments of modern medicine, immunisation is the least expensive and the most effective that medicine has produced. The problem nowadays is the internet enables every quack and nutcase to put information out there as to what they believe is true, and gullible people seem to be willing to accept this.
“The other thing is that people have become complacent. Because they don’t see these diseases any more they believe they’re not there.
“The reason for this is because immunisation prevents them. There is a relaxation in the sense of people needing to vaccinate because they have not seen this disease. All those bugs are still out there. Bacteria are equal-opportunity killers and so this movement that immunisations are bad is not true.
“I consider refusal to immunise a person’s child is basically wilful child endangerment, in the presence of the evidence about how immunisations work.
“The nonsense about it is says immunisations inject aluminium into the baby. Well, the baby gets more aluminium from a mother’s breast milk than immunisations.”
Over the years Dr Perinchief has came across many interesting cases and a few stand out, including a five-year-old girl who was in the Intensive Care Unit for diabetes.
“I remember her brain swelling in front of me due to the diabetes and I treated her. When she woke up out of the five-day coma, I asked her how many fingers I was holding up. She said ‘five’ and I said ‘I think we are going to be OK’.”
He also remembers his very first patient. “His mother came with him and was concerned because he was not growing. He had delayed bone age and I remember examining him and I assured his mother he will grow fine — he ended up growing to six feet!”
Edgewood has been in various locations including Woodbourne Avenue, Point Finger Road and now Richmond Road.
Practice manager Rio Tomaz said: “Everyone here is truly like family, and we all have been a patient of Dr Perinchief as children.
“The two new paediatricians are Bermudian and they were also patients of his, so it is like they are coming back home and joining our family.”
They strive to create a family-orientated environment. Dr Perinchief said: “We do not want it to look like an office. It looks like a house, it’s bright and there are toys in the waiting area.”
• For more information call Edgewood Pediatric Services on 295-8000