Dr. Richard Ball, pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics (ACHP) Green office, grew up in a family of educators. His dad was a school principal and his mom was a teacher. People assumed he would get into education, too. But when it came time to pick a career, Dr. Ball selected medicine. The decision suited him.
“Being a pediatrician has similarities to being a teacher,” Dr. Ball said. “In my career, I’ve mentored younger associates and guided them along. I’ve also educated my patients and their families. As a lifelong learner, I feel good that I’ve shared what I know. I’m going to miss being a pediatrician when I retire on Sept. 30.”
Even though Dr. Ball says he feels bittersweet about leaving his 38-year career, the last 22 of those years spent at Children’s, he’s excited about what the future holds. He plans to enjoy family time, reading, traveling, helping his wife with crafts and exercising. His daughter, who instituted a “Dad’s Book of the Month Club,” is introducing Dr. Ball to her favorite authors, while his son, who lives in Switzerland, is helping him to explore Europe.
What brought you to Children’s?
I started my pediatric residency after graduating from West Virginia University School of Medicine. Dr. John Kramer, retired pediatric cardiologist, chaired Children’s pediatric residency program and was the single most important reason I came here. Not only was he an impressive physician, but he was welcoming and made me feel like he really wanted me here. Dr. Joseph Kastelic, retired pediatric hematologist-oncologist, and Dr. Rajeev Kishore, pediatric allergist and immunologist, were also early mentors.
What was going on in your life then?
I was recently married to Jody, my wife. Jody’s aunt lived in North Canton and only showed us housing options south of Akron. We ended up in Green, a sleepy quiet township then. Now it’s a thriving city.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
After completing my residency, I joined a private practice in Barberton. There were only 2 of us. Our practice expanded to 4 doctors and a second office in Wadsworth. The business of medicine was changing rapidly, so when Akron Children’s approached us about joining forces, we agreed. The Barberton and Wadsworth offices became ACHP’s third and fourth locations. Later, I was able to join ACHP’s Green location, which is closer to my home. It was a good decision for me professionally and personally.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
My partners and I built a thriving private practice, which became instrumental in ACHP’s growth. ACHP now has 29 offices.
How has Akron Children’s changed since you started here?
The number, breadth of services and expertise of Children’s medical staff has increased under Bill Considine’s (Akron Children’s CEO Emeritus) leadership. It’s improved our quality of care. The addition of electronic medical records has also improved our care, but, for me, it will be great not interacting with EPIC anymore. EPIC and I have a strained relationship!
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
As a general pediatrician, I’ve gotten to know many patients and families, and am now caring for some former patients’ grandkids. I’ve always had frequent contact with the people who trained me at Children’s. I could call any of them and they were very helpful to me. The support I got at Children’s helped me, and it helped my patients.
What’s your most memorable moment at Akron Children’s?
I’m honored to have worked with Dr. Nick Libertin, a wonderful pediatrician and friend, prior to his early death. Though I was older, I learned as much from him as he did from me. His wife is now a nurse practitioner and works with me at the ACHP Green office.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Embrace the idea of Akron Children’s as a family. We care tremendously for our patients and for each other. I will sorely miss my daily interactions with my ACHP Green family. Fortunately, I live close, and plan to visit regularly with my golden retriever puppy. They may not even notice I retired!
What music do you like?
My 2 favorite groups are The Moody Blues and Barenaked Ladies.
What’s the last book your read?
“Beneath a Scarlet Sky” by Mark Sullivan
What’s the last movie you saw?
“Captain America.” I’m also addicted to Hallmark movies on TV.