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By Carissa Sitki
Once a week since 1987 Veterinarian Dr. Patrick Graham has been paying Calhoun County a visit to care for residents’ pets, however, he will soon be retiring, leaving a hole in the area that is yet to be filled.
Graham operates Ghrist Veterinary Clinic in Pittsfield, but every Wednesday evening for the past 35 years, he has been in Calhoun providing his services to the community.
He runs his operation out of the Duck Shed in Batchtown, giving checkups, issuing preventative care, neutering cats, and occasionally sewing up a laceration. Over the years, he has operated out of three other locations in Calhoun.
After this month, however, Graham will be closing up shop and parting ways with his decades-long endeavor to begin his retirement.
At this time, no one has come forward to fill Graham’s shoes in Calhoun. He cited rising education costs and young vets being more attracted to metropolitan areas for the chance at higher paying jobs, as reasons why fewer people are wanting to practice in smaller areas. Graham said that things are a lot different now than they were in the past. “When I started, my salary was equal to my student loans,” he said. “Now, students are graduating one or two hundred thousand dollars in debt.”
Graham studied veterinary medicine at Ohio State University, and prior to that, he received his master’s degree in nutrition, studying swine.
Veterinary medicine was always a field that Graham was drawn to. Growing up on a livestock farm, he had a lot of exposure to animals. “We had several veterinarians that worked with our animals when I was a kid,” he said. “It just kinda seemed like an easy thing for me back then. When we had a sick animal, I would have an idea of what the issue was, it just kind of clicked.”
June 1 will mark Graham’s 38th year practicing veterinary medicine. “Some people go further, I know, but I’ve given up a lot, working six days a week every other week, or every third week on emergency,” he said.
Graham’s practice was opened by Dr. Ronald Ghrist in 1984. Graham worked for Ghrist from 1987 until Ghrist’s passing, at which time Graham took over. There is not anyone who will be taking over the Pittsfield Clinic, so it will be sold. “It’s going to all be liquidated,” said Graham.
The other Ghrist Clinic, located in Carrollton, was formerly owned by Graham, but he previously sold it and it is now run by Dr. Matt Saxe. That clinic will remain operational, but Saxe will not be making Graham’s Calhoun visits.
Over the years, Graham has watched the numbers of patients he sees in Calhoun grow, starting out with just a few farm calls to now seeing upwards of 30 patients in a single visit. Graham said the thing he will miss most is interacting with his patient’s owners. “I’m going to miss talking to all the different people,” he said.
Graham’s last day to see patients at his Pittsfield Clinic will be Friday, May 27, and his last trip out to Batchtown will be Wednesday, May 25.