As Dr Peter J Spafford closed the doors to his clinic for the last time, it was a sigh of relief after years of being stretched thin, but the reality of an isolated town left without a doctor would burden his mind for months to come.
"It was a really disheartening time at the end of the day," he said.
"I was totally burnt out last year for many reasons... I needed a break but there was no way I could take one with just two GPs."
For years, more than 8000 people relied heavily on one private clinic operating with two GPs.
Like most regional towns in Australia these days, residents came to expect wait lists of up to three weeks, and three hour drives to the NT capital when an appointment was needed sooner.
The shortage is chronic and widespread despite great efforts by the government and splashes of cash.
But Dr Spafford says he was pushed into a corner after numerous attempts to speak out about Katherine's crisis fell on the deaf ears of government officials.
For almost three months Katherine was left in limbo. An interim clinic was set up by the NT PHN. The hospital began to overflow. President of the Northern Territory Australian Medical Association Dr Robert Parker labeled it a "big crisis for Katherine".
Angst took over until the awaited announcement of a solution came this month, but Dr Spafford says it could all have been avoided.
"We tried desperately to sell the clinic," he said, claiming there were three interested parties willing to take over the lease.
He says the building's owners blocked any attempts for a smooth transition.
"We had another interested purchaser, a local, not-for-profit organisation, which would have been absolutely fantastic, and again they said they would not lease the building. In fact they said they would not lease the building to any of our purchasers," Dr Spafford said.
"It basically made the clinic unsellable."
"Even while we were trying to negotiate a sale right until the very last day that we had to move out of the premises we were hoping that we could still provide continuity of care, continuity of a general practice in this town," Dr Spafford said.
He said the unusual obstruction by the owners put Katherine residents in a difficult situation. "It left them quite nervous about the fact there was going to be no GP. I mean some people left town because of it."
"It could have absolutely been avoided."
Mr Spafford claims that even attempts to continue the lease on a month by month basis were declined. "They basically said you've got to vacate the premises."
The owners of the building declined an interview with the Katherine Times, but Dr Spafford said he wrote a letter requesting a response over their actions.
"We said 'why have you done this', 'what have the people of Katherine done to you to deserve this treatment' and we never got a response to that letter."
"They were very well aware of how upset we were that they had pulled the plug on any option of continuity of care," he said.
"They put an absolute kibosh on the ability for us to sell."
Since the closure of the clinic, Dr Spafford has been relishing in free time, a foreign concept for over a decade.
But he has no plans of not returning to work. "I am not going to be a non-doctor. Not retired yet."
Especially as he sees the issue of attracting doctors as an ongoing problem.
"We've tried very hard over the past couple of years, and that problem isn't going away," he says.
"There are people out there that may come. I have had people get in contact with me saying they want to relocate to Katherine and I have passed on their names to the new clinic owners.
"But this is a problem not unique to Katherine. It is widespread across Australia.
"It's pretty dark."
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