2018 Rhoads winner understands her patients’ challenges

October 12th, 2018

The 2018 Paul S. Rhoads Humanity in Medicine Award winner walks in her patients’ shoes every day. Erica Kretchman, D.O., endocrinologist, brings a personal passion – and compassion — for treating a disease she’s dealt with herself since she was a teenager.

Erica Kretchman, D.O.

Erica Kretchman, D.O.

Dr. Kretchman’s selection for the annual recognition was announced Friday evening at an annual medical staff appreciation and new physician reception in Richmond. Nominations for the award are solicited each year from patients, physicians and health care workers in honor of the late Paul S. Rhoads, M.D., who received the first award in 1983.

“I work to empower those who I’m caring for to not necessarily hide their diabetes,” Dr. Kretchman said. “It is something I use as a tool.” Colleagues say her personal experience with Type 1 diabetes since she was diagnosed at age 15 is one of the keys to how well she relates and understands her patients.

Craig Kinyon, Reid Health President/CEO, said Dr. Kretchman’s passion and compassion are evident not just to her patients, but to her office staff and others on the Reid Health team. “Dr. Kretchman has had such a positive impact on Reid and on our community in just a few short years. She has established and grown the Reid Endocrinology Center and helped build our outreach and education to the region. She is a coach. She is a leader. She is a person who truly cares about her patients and she understands their challenges. And that is priceless.”

Rohit Bawa, M.D., who chairs the RHPA Network Operations Council, cited Dr. Kretchman’s work to establish and build the Reid Health endocrinology program. “She has been instrumental in developing best practice protocols for diabetes treatment and management. She is also very involved and engaged as a colleague and physician.”

Jennifer Bales, M.D., emergency physician, met Dr. Kretchman soon after she joined Reid, and they have become good friends. “She has a real passion for her patients and for diabetes,” Dr. Bales said. “She loves her patients – and they love her back. She knows how difficult diabetes can be,” she added. Dr. Bales sometimes will see a patient of Dr. Kretchman in emergency situations and is helpful with them. “She knows her patients by heart.”

Christie Ferriell, who has worked with the Diabetes & Nutrition Education Program at Reid Health for many years, said the program was one of the things that drew Dr. Kretchman to Richmond. She said that soon after Dr. Kretchman joined the Endocrinology Center, the doctor engaged with a patient after an annual diabetes event in Lingle Auditorium and found out she had run out of insulin. “Dr. Kretchman took her to her office and made sure she did not leave without the medicine she needed.”

A native of Michigan, Dr. Kretchman grew up in a remote suburb of Detroit. She has a bachelor’s of science in Clinical Laboratory Science from Michigan State University in East Lansing and her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Des Moines University in Des Moines, Iowa.

The first time she came to Reid Health for an interview, she only came for the experience and had no intention of coming to Indiana. However, she and her husband, Jason, fell in love with the Richmond area. with Reid Health and with what the health system had to offer. With two small children – Elise who is now nine and Cameron who is six — they found the region offered much to a young family. Jason is a stay-at-home dad who takes care of the home and getting the kids to numerous activities.

Dr. Kretchman was told when she was diagnosed by the doctor that diabetes would be cured within five years. So she wasn’t initially as committed to managing her disease. She was torn between a love for science and music. She was a drum major and plays the bassoon, flute, violin and piano.

“Erica with diabetes is why Erica is a doctor.  It gave me a passion in life,” she says. Her passion extends to motivating her patients. With so many options for treatment, she sometimes gets frustrated when she knows a patient can manage the disease and live a healthy life. “Diabetes is not a disease we can’t control. We have all these tools and medications.”

Dr. Kretchman walks the talk she gives her patients on the importance of exercise and controlling blood sugar levels. Her exercise choice is running. “I use it as a way to keep me under control and stay healthy. And if I’m asking others to do it, I need to do it.”

The Humanity in Medicine award and celebration, authorized as an annual event by Reid’s governing board in 1983, honors the memory of Dr. Rhoads for his service to patients and medicine. He was the founding director of Reid’s Medical Education Department, helped organize the hospice program and the Wayne County adult clinic for the indigent.


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