A pillar of the local medical community has passed away. Dr. Patricia Arenas, who practiced medicine in Casselman for 44 years, died on July 16 at age 70.
Dr. Arenas graduated from medical school the University of Ottawa in 1973 as just one of two women in the class.
“I would say she was a dedicated practitioner,” said her daughter Julia, who added that her mother was providing palliative care to patients dying at home at a time when it was not common, and that her commitment was “I never abandon my patients.” Julia explained that her mother could have practiced in Ottawa and received offers to practice in the United States at considerable salaries but chose to locate in Casselman and remain there.
While most physicians were reducing the number of house calls they made or ending that practice altogether, Dr. Arenas continued to visit patients in their homes. Most of the population in and around Casselman is Francophone, and Dr. Arenas, who was born in England and mostly raised in Ottawa, taught herself French so she could better serve her patients. In 2007, the previous owner of the Casselman Medical Clinic left the facility and it was facing closure. Dr. Arenas stepped in and took ownership of the clinic, so it could stay open.
“She was an asset to the community. If she hadn’t have stepped up, the clinic would have closed. They don’t make them like her anymore,” said Julia.
Those comments were echoed by Casselman Mayor Conrad Lamadeleine. “She was good, there was no question about it,” he said about the long-time doctor, adding he was surprised to hear of her passing.
“A lot of people said good things about her,” said the Mayor. Condolences on the website of Hillcrest Funeral Home in Vankleek Hill, which is handling Dr. Arenas’ funeral arrangements, contain numerous tributes, some from patients who had her as their doctor for her entire career in Casselman.
“She always had time to listen to your concerns and you felt very confident in her presence,” said one of the patients. Another patient said she always appreciated Dr. Arenas’ “frankness, good sense of humour, and great knowledge.”
Dr. Patricia Arenas is survived by her daughters Julia and Jennifer, and by six grandchildren. A private, family ceremony will be held at Hillcrest Funeral Home in Vankleek Hill. A celebration of life event for friends, colleagues, and patients is being held on Thursday, July 26, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Vankleek Hill Curling Club.