After over three decades, Dr. Glen Ricca is preparing for retirement this month.
He’s ready, for the most part, but the same can’t be said of his patients and co-workers at the OSF Center for Health who have come to appreciate his kind presence and helpful attitude.
“He is one of the old doctors and I don’t mean by his age but the way he practices,” said Advanced Practice Nurse Joni Luckey. “He practices like they used to practice. He does house calls and knows all his patients from birth to death.”
Luckey has worked with Ricca since he started his first residency with Dr. Moore’s Family Medicine Practice in Streator in 1982.
She said it was clear from early on that he was a great fit for the area.
“Oh, we liked him,” Luckey said of their first meeting. “He was sweet and I told him, ‘I hope you never, ever become one of those grouchy old doctors.’ ”
“He never did,” she added with a smile.
Luckey said he rarely referred patients as he had an immense knowledge of medicine and was available to patients.
Ricca admitted at the start there was a learning curve to overcome, but he adds that one should never “stop” learning.
“There’s always a learning curve and you can always learn more. You’re never too old to learn,” Ricca said. “Even now, I don’t know that I’ve seen it all.”
It was not unusual for a patient to run into Ricca out and about in town and he was always ready to help.
“You’re a doctor all the time,” Ricca said. “It’s like being a priest. You’re not a priest from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.”
Ricca, originally from Peoria, found Streator as it was close to both Peoria as well as his wife’s roots in the suburbs, but together they grew new roots in Streator.
Ricca said between the supportive community and staff it became a great location to grow a family.
“Streator was a nice town to raise our kids,” Ricca said. “They had everything we wanted as far as offerings for our kids.”
Ricca said he got into medicine in part because of the doctor and patient relationship and it allowed him to meet a number of unique individuals. He considers most of his patients friends and it seems the feeling is mutual. Patients have been leaving “knick-knacks” for Ricca upon learning of his retirement, including one patient’s painting.
Lori Snell, manager of physician offices for the OSF Medical Group offices in Streator and Wenona, said Ricca has a “servant’s heart” and OSF looks for similar physicians and providers who want to be active participants in a community.
“That’s the best of both worlds,” Snell said. “Living in the community and serving the people that we are next to in church and the grocery store. It’s a higher level of accountability.”
Snell said he’ll be difficult to replace.
“He’s our healthcare rockstar,” Snell said with a laugh.
Still, while OSF doesn’t have a replacement lined up to continue offering a sixth provider they are interviewing nurse practitioner candidates.
Ricca continues to say goodbye to his patients as he prepares for his retirement at the end of the month.
He and his wife plan to visit their kids who are spread across the country.
A celebration is prepared Friday for the departing doctor, but locals can still expect to see him around.
He’ll be around to lend an ear, but he knows his patients will be in good hands at the center.
“Sure, I’ll talk to them,” Ricca said with a smile. “But I’ll probably say, ‘See your doctor.’”