Dr. Gerald Yukevich is telling his patients that he’s hanging up his stethoscope.
In a letter to patients dated April 25, Yukevich, 72, wrote that as of September he will no longer be serving as a physician with Vineyard Medical Care. “Please know that I have always considered my medical experiences a profound privilege, and I have cherished working closely with you all,” he wrote.
Yukevich told The Times he plans to work exclusively with Hope Hospice patients after September.
“I’ve found that to be very rewarding,” he said. Yukevich became the director at Hope Hospice about eight years ago. End-of-life care became a passion of his after his sister died about 30 years ago when hospice was just emerging, but not yet established like it is today.
Yukevich said he began cutting back his clinical hours at Vineyard Medical Care in January.
Yukevich moved to the Island 23 years ago, and spent three of those years commuting off-Island. He’s been working with patients on Island for 20 years.
“I feel lucky that my wife Martha and my daughter Anna and I settled here,” Yukevich wrote. “We have been nourished and comforted and constantly inspired by this dynamic and closely knit Island.”
Michael Loberg, owner of Vineyard Medical Care, said the office will have a full staff for summer season, and is working on recruiting a replacement.
“We’ll greatly miss him, but we’re happy for him,” Loberg said. “He speaks to the best in all of us. His brand is our brand — the quality and compassion of his health care.”
Yukevich will have plenty to keep him occupied. He plays the violin, and is a pianist and a playwright, Loberg said. “It’s not as if he’s going to ask himself what to do with all his free time,” he said.
After a lengthy career that started with his medical internship 45 years ago in Boston, Yukevich said he is looking forward to having time to work on other things, including a fictional novel based on stories told to him by his father about his “hardscrabble” life in the ’20s and ’30s. “I have plenty of stuff to do,” he said.
In his letter to patients, Yukevich said insurance companies will be notified, and he urged patients to contact the providers to make sure their health insurance is not affected by the move.
Between 1,500 and 2,000 patients will be affected by his retirement, though some are seasonal patients, he said.
“Thank you again for allowing me to be a part of your life,” Yukevich wrote. “Some of us have shared some joyous, some painful, and even tragic experiences, but as partners I feel we have tried to sustain dignity and hope through life’s challenges. Many times you have inspired and amazed me. Thanks.”
Working with patients on an Island has given him a close connection to them. “It’s a very rich experience to get so close to people,” he said.