After dedicating 43 years to the Mackay region’s oral health, dental assistant Christine Bayliss has seen her last patient and called it a day to enjoy a well-earned retirement.
Christine began her career at Mackay’s first school dental clinic in 1978 at Victoria Park State School before moving Mackay Base Hospital’s Dental Unit in 1996.
“My earliest memories of working with Queensland Health are training at the Gregory Street clinic for a week and then being placed at the Vic Park clinic just after it was built,” she said.
“It was a brand new facility and I remember unpacking many boxes ready for the clinic to be set up and start seeing children.”
For nearly 20 years Christine saw thousands of primary school children, providing comfort and care as they attended their yearly dental check-up.
Coincidentally, one of those children would become a colleague.
Dental therapist Arlene Belzer watched the Victoria Park School Dental Clinic construction from her year six classroom and attended as a patient the following year.
Years later Arlene returned as the clinic’s dental therapist with Christine by her side.
Many changes have occurred over Christine’s 43 years in the industry, including innovative dental technology, advances in dental practices and the conversion to digital records but the one thing she said hadn’t changed was ensuring children and adults alike were made to feel safe and welcome.
“People can come to their first appointment with compromised teeth which may have resulted from not seeing a dentist for some time or due to ill health,” Christine said.
“I have always strived to help patients feel comfortable and informed every step of the way.”
Over the years she has trained many dental assistants, made life-long friendships and gained immense job satisfaction.
“It has been the most enjoyable place to work and I will miss everyone but will definitely drop in from time to time for a catch up.”
Colleagues gathered for a farewell afternoon tea to celebrate Christine’s retirement, recounting memories and her contributions over the years.
Christine is looking forward to playing more sport and devoting more time to her love of animals.