The gynecologist Professor Dr. Joachim L. Gnirs moved to Mallorca in 2007. His greatest joy is bringing babies into the world, and his limited leisure time is dedicated to his young daughter Olivia, an animal rescue team, a classic car, a motorcycle and sailing.
Dr. Joachim Gnirs – for simplicity’s sake, we’ll use only one of his several academic titles – dreams of buying a small sailing boat again. The man who was born in the southern German region of Baden adores the sea and the interaction of wind and waves. But he also knows he mostly has to resist this passion: “Friends of mine often invite me for a one-week or a one-day sailing trip around the Balearic islands. But I must not go too far away from the coastline because, at any moment, I could receive an important call from the hospital and I have to be available. “Babies in the womb don’t give advance notice of exactly when they’ll be ready to be born. Dr. Gnirs knows they depend on him. He´s a gynecologist – not an average women´s doctor, but a high-profile specialist in high-risk pregnancies and complex surgery on the female body. There are not many physicians like him in Mallorca.
Greater than any science, though, is love. When Joachim Gnirs is talking in his sophisticated medical idiom about cancer treatments on the female lower abdomen and lecturing at the Technical University of Munich. The German doctor, with his outstanding qualifications and his understated conduct, got to know his wife, the lovely and warm-hearted surgical assistant from Slovakia, where it was bound to happen: in the operating theatre of a German hospital. Since that day, eight years ago, they have been inseparable. Every time Dr. Gnirs´ mobile phone rings and he´s called to the clinic for an emergency, Elena goes with him. When he makes an incision, it is Elena who hands him the scalpel – no matter if it´s a Caesarean section, a premature delivery or gynecological surgery on an ovarian or cervical uterine carcinoma.
Elena is the perfect complement in the life of Joachim Gnirs. She is the physician´s partner, colleague, friend, confidante and emotional rock. On the job, she´s stress-resistant. Elena: “I know the crazy hours this work entails and I understand exactly the kind of requirements and type of pressure my husband has to deal with.” For the past three years, the most beautiful gift has united the couple even more: a little daughter, born on her mother´s birthday. The little family – Elena has a second, 19 year-old, daughter from her first marriage – is currently looking for a new home in Mallorca. It needs to be rural, cosy and originally Mallorcan, but not vastly luxurious. “We are not millionaires,” Dr. Gnirs remarks with a smile. The new house will provide at least a huge garden, to give the “rescue team” – the family includes three doggies and a cat – space to move around outdoors.
The relocation to Mallorca was well planned and the island was well-known to them. Joachim Gnirs had been coming here for sailing since the early 1980s; the place reminds him of his youth. It was while practicing this leisure sport and through one of his best friends, an oral surgeon working in Mallorca, that the first contacts with local doctors and clinic management were made: “Why don´t you come here and work for us?” they asked him. Gnirs felt tempted, but gave himself ten years to strengthen his contacts with hospitals. Nothing was left to chance and, in advance, he set in motion the process for his German qualifications to be recognised. “It took me three years to have all my titles approved by Madrilenian and Balearic medical authorities.” Finally, the surgery in Palma de Mallorca was able to open its doors on September 1st, 2007.
Joachim Gnirs (49) started at point zero, he gave out business cards and waited for patients. The clients dropped in sporadically at first and within a few months they were coming in greater numbers. Gnirs: “Usually it takes a foreign doctor 3 to 5 years to establish a surgery in Mallorca. Thank God we managed it much faster.” Besides the treatment of patients with private insurances, at his consultancy, Gnirs operates as an external specialist at Juaneda Clinic, Miramar and Palma-Planas hospitals. He frequently works until 10 p.m. on Friday nights – weekend births added. “We’re trying to ease our work timetable, in order to have more time for the family,” the physician explains.
Some free time is also dedicated to the Classic Car Club Mallorca (CCC). Since his years at university, Joachim Gnirs possesses a beautiful Triumph TR 6, which will soon be registered with Spanish number plates. Sometimes Elena and Joachim Gnirs go out for a ride on their motorcycle, a BMW sports tourer, “but only on Sundays and using less busy roads,” Gnirs remarks. The rather vague style of driving on the island frightens the family man.
In spite of some stereotype “Southern chaos” and different mentalities – Gnirs has had some bad experiences with local workmen – the family is happier than in Germany:
“Within the last 15 years the society there has become more and more frosty and harsh. The Spanish are more affectionate towards children, the country has a warm, life-enhancing atmosphere. Family and public courage here are still values to defend. Among physicians, envy and bullying are quite normal in Germany; in Spain the team spirit is better and even a foreigner´s work is widely acknowledged, if one proves to be humble and to have excellent skills.”
However, the change of location was “a huge effort,” says Gnirs. He is still improving his Spanish skills day-by-day and confirms that “one has to accept living with a lower income” in Mallorca. It’s normal “to work more and earn a lot less”. But happiness lies for him in the harmony of social relationships, in his marriage and in the family – and not in wealth.
The move to the island is meant to be forever, but the private and professional contact with Germany remains. Many friends visit. And Prof. Dr. Gnirs doesn´t want to leave his chair at Technical University of Munich: “The professorship is an intellectual challenge for me, which urges me to keep up-to-date with the new innovations in medicine.” The gynecologist travels to Bavaria at least twice a month, in order to deliver lectures and to train young doctors on his own special subject. He has written scientific articles and books about obstetrics and gynecological surgery.
The most important motivation behind all this is the love for life. The couple´s work is a true calling. Gnirs: “In Germany I´ve done treatments and operations without charge, if the patients couldn´t afford it and I considered it necessary. I believe that medicine contains an ethical responsibility.” The couple often talks at home about patients and difficult cases. “Always when a new child is born, I start to cry,” Elena tells us joyfully. Even on the day of their interview they brought one baby into the world. And the mobile of Dr. Gnirs – he calls himself “lawyer and safety fanatic of the child” – rings constantly. On the other end of the line are unborn clients – meeting point is the hospital – and the sailing boat must continue its long wait for him.
Prof. Dr. med. Dr. med. habil. Joachim L. Gnirs
Gynecologist & Obstetrician
17, L, Calle Arquitecto Francisco Casas
Tel. +34 971 767 530