Dr Casey set up the practice on the 30th December 1988 on his return from the UK, where he had completed his specialist training programme in General Practice. The practice was started in the front room of a rented house known locally as Mrs Harty’s house, near the Cathedral. After two years the practice grew and transferred to Gortaspiddale, Tralee Road in 1991 to a specially built, split level dormer house/surgery. The lower part formed the practice premises and the higher part formed the family home. In 1992 the practice received an award from the UK for the design of this single handed surgery.
In 2001 the practice became a teaching practice for the Postgraduate Cork Vocational Training Programme in General Practice and Dr Adrian O’Gara, now partner, was the first Registrar to be appointed to the practice in July 2003. The second Registrar appointed to the practice was Dr Jane McCafferty, who also is now a partner. Since its inception the practice has always been involved in teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate students and has had undergraduates from as far away as Boston, USA, Perth, Australia as well as UCD and in particular University College Cork, whose students are a permanent fixture from January to May, and University of Limerick whose students attend from August to December.
As the practice grew it became very clear that a new premises was going to be necessary and in May 2005, following a lot of hard work and planning, we moved into our present location, Ionad Leighis ArdFhearta (Ardfert Medical Centre), the first purpose built primary care centre to incorporate successfully all the elements required for community health services and successfully mixing both private and health board facilities in the one campus. The centre incorporates a pharmacy which was the original village pharmacy, three GPs, a GP Registrar, two Practice Nurses, School Dental service, two Public Health nurses, Community HSE Physiotherapist, a private dental unit, Egans of Cork Hearing Aid Company, a private physiotherapy unit as well a visiting HSE Outpatient Psychiatry clinic every fortnight. The centre was developed without any state aid by Dr Casey and was officially opened on the 17th February 2006 by the then-Tánaiste and Minister for Health, Ms Mary Harney. This centre would not have been possible without the advice, assistance and support of the local community, HSE and Kerry County Council. It featured as the leading article/report in the national GP magazine Forum in March 2006.
In the twelve years since then, the practice has continued to expand and develop further services which include a Travel Vaccination Clinic, warfarin clinic, Antenatal Clinic and Childhood Immunisation Clinic in addition to the usual family practice services. A minor trauma service is also provided for suturing of lacerations and other minor injuries. The establishment of a group practice has allowed the pursuit of sub-specialisation by each of the GPs from dermatology/diabetes/women’s health/travel medicine (Dr Jane McCafferty), dermatology/cardiology/respiratory/GP Trainer (Dr Adrian O’Gara) and asthma/pre–hospital immediate care and occupational health, Assistant Programme Director for postgraduate GP training in the Institute of Technology, Tralee (Dr John Casey). The practice carries out pre-employment medicals and advises for a number of factories and businesses in the region as well as the HSE and the Bon Secours Hospital. A research ethos has been cultivated in the practice from the beginning and the practice has been and continues to be involved in a number of areas of research which have included PROSPER, DRIVE and Heartwatch studies. The centre is a real part of the local community and acts as the medical and first aid teaching support for the voluntary Banna Sea Rescue unit.
The centre is only as good as its front line staff who are very dedicated and committed to best care for all patients. The team includes Sinead Lynch, Breda Shanahan, Delia Casey, Colette Walsh and our practice nurses Caroline Sampson and Cliona Curtin, along with our counsellour/ psychotherapist Órlaith Greaney.
The logo for the centre base in this very historical village is “Ionad Leighis Ard Fhearta” which translates as the Ardfert Medical Place and draws inspiration from the legend of the local Wethers Holy Well. The legend is if you draw and drink the water from the well with a silver bucket and see the image of a salmon in it you will be cured of whatever ailment you have