Wheeling Medical Pioneer To Hang Up Stethoscope

Forty years after he brought invasive cardiology to the Ohio Valley, Dr. Richard F. Terry is retiring.

“It’s hard to believe it has been 40 years, but now it’s time for the next phase of my life,” Terry said. “I have had the honor and privilege of caring for thousands upon thousands of patients who trusted me with their lives. And I must thank my amazing staff and the incredible people who have worked with me over these four decades.

“Medicine is not a job, it’s a mission and a passion,” he said. “While I hate to hang up my stethoscope, this is the right time for me to retire.”

At 71, Terry has seen medicine and the entire health care delivery system transform both scientifically and operationally. He was the Wheeling area’s first invasive cardiologist, opening the first heart catheterization lab at Wheeling Hospital shortly after starting his private practice June 25, 1978. He performed the region’s first heart catheterization, or cath, procedure about two months later on Aug. 22, 1978. Ever the pioneer, he later trained to perform angioplasty procedures and brought that expertise to Wheeling in 1994, which paved the way for local hospitals to start providing full-scale heart surgery.

“Cardiology in Wheeling has grown by leaps and bounds in these 40 years,” Terry said. “Patients in this area are able to stay in their own community and receive top-quality interventional cardiology care and surgery on a daily basis.

“Retirement is always a bittersweet concept, because I’ve loved every second of being a doctor in this community, and I love my patients,” he said. “But I have a great deal of comfort in knowing that my patients will be well cared for by the other excellent providers here.”

Terry’s practice always has been the family business. His wife, Jo, has managed the cardiology practice since they opened their doors in 1978, so this actually is a dual retirement. The decision, while timely, also was influenced by the economic realities facing solo practitioners in the United States.

“Operating a medical practice isn’t what it used to be when we started,” Jo said. “The pressures brought on by the complexities inherent in the economics of health care delivery today have increased every year. We decided a long time ago that if we could make it to 40 years, that would be an amazing success story both personally and professionally. And we did.”

She said the practice will be closing by the end of summer. Patients are being notified and educated about their care options for the future.

As the Terrys look ahead, they are excited for more time with family to celebrate life’s milestones. Dr. Terry said he credits his wife for his success both at home and in medicine.

“I would not have been the husband, father and physician that I am today without my wife,” he said. “She is my best friend and always has been my true partner in life.”

They are just two years away from their 50th wedding anniversary.

The Terrys are parents to four children, have eight grandchildren and are longtime members of the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Wheeling.

For questions about patient care transitions, call Dr. Terry’s office at 304-242-4700.

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