Dr. Basilon Cole always told his colleagues he was never going to retire.
As staff at the Aberdeen Hospital mourn the surgeon’s sudden passing last week at the age of 71, Dr. Andrew Hayward, department head of surgery for the Aberdeen Hospital, can’t help but think he got his wish.
“This is the way he would have wanted to go,” he said.
Cole, who had worked a full day on Tuesday, passed away in the Halifax Infirmary on Friday surrounded by family. Cole had been a physician at the Aberdeen Hospital for his entire medical career of 37 years.
Dr. Chris Elliott has worked in Pictou County since 1974 and knew Cole throughout his tenure in town. He considered him not only a colleague, but a friend and a fixture in the local health care community.
“He was almost like the heart of the hospital,” Elliott said.
Cole had a big laugh and a big smile and was generally in a good mood.
“When he wasn’t, there was a good reason,” Elliott said.
As a family physician, Elliott often referred patients for surgery with Cole. He always told them that he would trust Cole to perform surgery on him or any of his family.
“His professional loss is astronomical for Pictou County and the Nova Scotia Health Authority,” he said.
Hayward first met Cole when he came to work at the Aberdeen Hospital four years ago. In the years that followed, he knew if he ever had a question or wanted a second opinion, Cole or “Basi,” as he was referred to by those around the hospital, would be happy to help.
“He was the type of guy that always made time for you,” Hayward said. “He was one of those people in the hospital that you could go to for advice in any situation…. He was like a father figure for everyone.”
Alana Toole worked with him as a scrub nurse for many years and later as health services manager for the Aberdeen Hospital’s OR.
“He was absolutely at his happiest when he was in the OR doing surgery,” she said.
As a professional he remained calm and collected. He had a plan and he knew how to follow it.
“He was a really valued member of the team and he was held in high regard by all.”
As she thinks back to his last day at work, she remembers him leaving with a smile on his face.
“He was so very happy when he was operating.”