It’s been 35 years since Dr Liliana Elberg saw her first patient in St Albans – this week she will see her last.

Dr Elberg will close the Collins Street Medical Centre on her 72nd birthday on September 13, bringing to an end a community attachment that began by accident.

After working at the Western Hospital in Williamstown in the early ’80s, Dr Elberg was asked by the former St Albans Community Health Centre to do some relief work, that eventually lead to her working full-time in the St Albans community.

“I was driving from Glen Huntly every day, but I got sucked into the community and fell in love with it,” Dr Elberg said.

“A fantastic nurse I worked with convinced me to buy this place. We had it up and running in two weeks and we’ve been here ever since.”

Dr Elberg came to Australia from Ukraine as a refugee in 1979.

It was her multi-lingual background that initially had medical centres in the west seeking her services, but it was her loyal patients who ensured she continued to work in St Albans for so long.

“I love my patients here,” she said.

“They’ve been very loyal to me over numerous generations, and it’s been a very enjoyable 35 years.

“I’m very sad to leave. A lot of people were in tears when I told them, because it’s a long time to be attached to the area, but I need a change and I think the time is right.”

Dr Elberg will continue to work at a surgery in St Kilda, and still hopes to see some familiar faces come through the doors.

“There’s been so many good times here, so it will be nice to stay in touch.”