Dr. Richard Johnson brings decades of experience in patient care to Susquehanna Wellness Clinic
Updated: May 1
Dr. Richard Johnson, left, and Mature Resources Chief Operating Officer Ethen Tarner set up access for the doctor’s accounts at Susquehanna Wellness Clinic. Johnson will begin to see patients at the clinic in December.
CLEARFIELD, Pa. – Beginning in December, the Susquehanna Wellness Clinic (SWC) will become the new home of one of the Clearfield area’s most experienced and renowned physicians. Dr. Richard A. Johnson will join the talented staff there, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge gained from nearly five decades practicing in the medical field.
“It’s a passion. It’s a passion to see patients, listen to their problems, develop a treatment plan, and find out just what’s going on,” Johnson said of his continued motivation to keep practicing medicine while others with his breadth of experience may seek out retirement. Following a battle with his own health issues, he explained that his recent downtime convinced him that retirement, for him, would never remain permanent.
“I retired from Clearfield Professional Group after 35 years on September 30. And I knew from the previous year, when I had multiple medical problems, some parts of me don’t work well anymore, except for my brain. I’ve talked to several other physicians who have tried to retire, and they said you can only do so much gardening, you can only do so much of this or that. You’ve got to do more for your brain. I decided that I needed to put my brain to work again,” Johnson said. “It’s always been a passion. And I feel better when my mind is working.”
Kathleen Gillespie, CEO of the clinic’s parent company, Mature Resources, said, “It is a true pleasure to welcome Dr. Johnson to the Susquehanna Wellness Clinic. His years of experience will add unlimited value to the services already offered by our outstanding staff there. We know he is well trusted and loved by his current patients, and I’m confident new, incoming patients will share those feelings immediately.”
Johnson completed undergraduate work at Thiel College in Greenville, PA, before enrolling in medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he also worked nights in the hospitals there – drawing blood, starting IV’s, and absorbing as much as he could as a medical student. From there, he went to Art Center Hospital in Detroit where he completed an internship and stayed on there for a three-year residency.
“I would get together with my friends from medical school on a Friday night, there might be eight of us there, and we’d put our money together and buy one pizza and one sub, and cut it up and share it between the eight of us because none of us had any money,” Johnson laughed. “My wife and I went to a supermarket in the middle of February once, and when we came out, we realized we had $15 to last us to the end of the month.”
But those hard times would prove to be worth it in the end. “The internist who trained me offered me a job and I worked there another 10 years with them,” Johnson recalled of his time in Detroit. “One of the physicians who taught me when I was an intern and resident was one of the first internists to practice in the city of Detroit. He started practicing in the 1930’s. And if you think back to the 1930’s, that was pre-antibiotics. That was before many types of treatments we were using by the time I started my internship in the mid 1970’s.”
Johnson credits his early education and practice in Detroit with giving him a unique skillset that’s rarely seen in patient care today. He said, “When I started in medicine, there was no ultrasound. Nuclear medicine was just in its infancy. No CAT Scans, no MRIs, none of the modern technology we have today. So, when I started, we had to do a history and a physical exam using our eyes, our ears, our nose, talking, using our hands. And that’s about what you had for diagnostics. And that’s been lost. That’s a lost art. And I still practice that, as well as use all the modern technology. I just finished a 50-hour course on fascinating modern changes and technology in medicine. So, I’ve always kept up with those things. What I use is a combination of old school medicine where you needed to use all your senses to evaluate patients, and fusing that with all the modern new technology. That’s what I think is important. Every day I’m at work I learn something new. After 45 years, that’s saying something.”
During his years in Detroit, Johnson said he had the opportunity to see almost anything that can pop up in the medical profession. Including the chance to treat some famous patients.
“I had the opportunity, for several months, to take care of Rosa Parks in Detroit,” Johnson revealed. “She had some issues that she needed to be in the hospital for and to have doctors seeing her. So, I saw her in the hospital and followed her for a period of time in the office. I had the chance to be with her, talk to her, and get to know her.”
A recruiter approached Johnson about practicing in Clearfield in the 1980’s at just the right time. He and his wife, Ginny, originally from Bradford, PA, were starting a family and longed for a more rural setting in which to raise their children.
Johnson was born in Port Vue, Pennsylvania, “15 miles up the Monongahela River from Pittsburgh,” as he described it. His father began working in a steel mill at the age of 12. His father, along with his mother, a homemaker, provided the foundation for he and his brothers to be successful. Johnson shared, “There’s nobody I respect more than my parents for what they developed for me and my three brothers. They taught us right and wrong, honesty, integrity. We had to work – I started working at six years old delivering the morning Pittsburgh Post Gazzette newspaper. I got up at 5:15 every morning, walked for two hours delivering the newspaper, went home, had breakfast, walked to school. But, my father used to sit there at the dinner table and shake his fist at us and say ‘none of you boys are going to work in a steel mill.’”
If learning to be self-sufficient at a young age instilled a work ethic, his boyhood environment also provided career inspiration. All four of the Johnson boys would end up becoming doctors. The oldest, a family physician in Michigan, another a doctor of chiropractic medicine in Reno, Nevada, and the youngest, after Richard, an internist in the Northern suburbs of Detroit. Johnson offered an explanation for why medicine became the family business. He explained, “When I was very young, my father’s father lived with us. My grandmother had passed away around the time I was born, so he came to live with us. He got very sick. I didn’t know back then, but I look back now and know that he was in congestive heart failure. And he would not go to the hospital. But the doctor would come to the house and taught my mother how to give him medications, so I saw that. And after he passed away, both of my mother’s parents lived with us for a while. Then my maternal grandfather passed away, and my maternal grandmother lived with us for years, until I left for college. The Dr. would come out and see her – my mother was a fantastic cook and fantastic baker. So, the doctor would come out, have a cup of coffee, enjoy something to eat and talk to us. So, I developed a lot of respect for physicians at an early age. I think, for my brothers and I, it got us interested.”
Johnson welcomes all of his existing patients to continue seeing him at the Susquehanna Wellness Clinic.
“Many patients I’ve been seeing, I’ve seen for over 30 years. We’ve developed a relationship where I know them, I know their families. It’s a holistic approach – not looking at disease process – I get to know them. Their kids, grand kids, their extended families. And I get attached to them. I hope I’ve influenced lives in a positive way.”
New patients are also welcomed to schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnson. Call 814-765-2695. The SWC has locations at 1924 Daisy Street Extension in Clearfield, in the former PennDOT building, as well as 28944 Frenchville Karthaus Highway in Frenchville. For more information, visit http://www.susqwell.com/
Johnson married Ginny in 1970. The couple have three children, Kyle, Courtney, and Eric, and 10 grandchildren. Courtney followed family tradition and became a doctor of podiatry.