Dr. Andrew Edelson has been serving the community of Mission for more than 45 years. During his long career, Edelson has been a family practitioner, hospital administrator and a trend setter in the field of obstetrics, helping to change the way hospitals deal with child birth. He has also raised a family, and developed a love for snowboarding. Now retired, he plans to stay involved in organized medicine. / Submitted Photo

MEDICAL MOMENTS: Dr. Andrew Edelson has served Mission for more than 45 years

Why Mission? ‘Mostly because it’s such a wonderful community,’ he says

It’s been more than 45 years since Dr. Andrew Edelson first arrived in Mission and over the past four-and-a-half decades, the general practitioner has left his mark on the community – and the community has left its mark on him too!

Edelson started his career as a physician in Mission in January of 1974 and on May 1, 2020, he decided it was time to retire.

Edelson said after finishing his medical training i the 1970s, he decided to come to Mission and open his practice

“Mostly because it’s such a wonderful community. The staff and people here, that’s what attracted me. The friendliness, openness and cooperation, particularly among the group of doctors who were here at the time.”

At the time, he described Mission as having 10,000 to 12,000 people and one traffic light. He had a family practice and worked at the hospital.

“At that time, every doctor did everything … I chose family practice, because that’s what I always wanted to do and I wanted to do it in a relatively rural setting where I can make use of all the skills I was trained to do,” he explained.

From surgical procedures and anesthesia to obstetrics as well as in patient and out patient medicine.

‘When I moved here, I was the seventh doctor in practice.”

Back then, they all took turns doing administrative work at the hospital.

Edelson began a practice with his long-term associate Dr. Arnold Shoichet.

“The two of us developed a cooperative way to share a practice so we could raise young families in a rural-ish small town and yet practice medicine. We were interchangeable and it was a relationship that worked extremely well.”

To this day, Edelson still promotes the idea that doctors should cooperate and work with each other.

Looking back on his medical career, Edelson said one of the biggest things that stand out to him was the fact that from about 1975, to the 1990s, Mission was noted for its obstetric services.

“Arnold and I basically endorsed, promoted and supported, family-centred obstetric care,” he explained adding they ensured father’s could be in the delivery room freely, and doing humane births,

It promoted healthy childbirth in a more holistic rather than technical sense. Doctors did it safely, of course, but with a respect for the process and the people involved.

Edelson said it got to a point that women from many other areas wold travel to Mission to deliver their babies.

A lot of what the doctors were doing was influenced by the book Birth Without Violence by Dr. Frédérick Leboyer, which came out in the 1970s.

“At the time, the idea was groundbreaking.”

Edelson said the way Mission was handling childbirth was the predecessor of what is happening in many places now.

“Prior to that it was sterile – masks, gowns gloves, well you still need gloves – but a sterile environment.”

He said in the past some doctors didn’t look at the babies as a person when they are feeling human beings.

“You don’t pick them up, hold them by their toes and smack them on the bum to make them breathe,” he said.

While he said Mission wasn’t the first place to make these changes, it was still a rare practice.

“We would do those things – give the baby right to mother, assuming the baby was fine, rather than scoop up the baby and take it to the infant resuscitation table, make sure it’s alive and well, you can kind of see that once the baby is halfway out. It was humane.

He said it made childbirth more like the way nature intended it to be.

“Medicine can do it’s best to interfere with nature.”

While Mission was known for it obstetric care, that began to change in the late 1990s.

“It was 2002 when they took the operating rooms and pediatrics away and centralized obstetric care to Abbotsford,” he said.

They continued delivering babies in Mission for awhile but Edelson said it was no longer viable.

The topic of the hospital is another story in itself, but overall, Edelson says that today, in 2020, the quality of family practitioners in this community is excellent.

“I think the newly trained doctors are really good, I think the older doctors are really good and I know they talk to each other and benefit from each other. That spirit is still here.”

When asked why he stayed in Mission for so many years, Edelson said it is a combination of so many things.

“Family, friends the community, learning to snowboard at Hemlock or Sasquatch, I’m addicted to that,” he said with a laugh.

He has lived in the same house for more than 30 years and now that he’s retired, he plans to keep fit and keep his brain active.

He also plans to keep involved and stay interested in organized medicine.

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