Victoria physician celebrates 92nd birthday

Larry Riedel, MD, a physician at the DeTar Hospital celebrates his 92nd birthday
Dr. Larry Riedel and Bernard Leger, DeTar Healthcare System, CEO

Dr. Larry Riedel and Bernard Leger, DeTar Healthcare System, CEO

VICTORIA, Texas – DeTar Medical Group physician Larry Riedel, MD, celebrates his 92 birthday this week. Dr. Riedel joined the DeTar Healthcare System medical staff in September 1963 and has witnessed the growth of the medical community in Victoria and the advancement of medicine as a whole.

Riedel was born and reared in Yorktown, Texas into a family of pharmacists. While his first venture into the world of medicine was down that same career path, he quickly discovered that he was more interested in providing medical care.

“I thought I’d feel better about what I was doing to help people if I was treating them rather than filling their prescriptions,” said Riedel. “So I returned to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to pursue my medical degree.”

While in Galveston, Riedel saw the rollout of the polio vaccine, a medical breakthrough that ended the polio epidemic in the United States. “I remember waiting in line outside of school with my children for us to get the vaccine. There was none of this business that you see now–everyone wanted the vaccine; we anxiously waited for it to be available since there was no treatment for the disease.”

Riedel has witnessed many advances in his 65 years as a physician.

“There have been so many medical breakthroughs since I began my career,” said Riedel. “It’s hard to say if one stood out more than others, but I believe the CT scan was one of the most important to general medicine.”

In the 50s and 60s, physicians did their best to treat patients with limited diagnostic tools. “We’d admit patients to the hospital on a Sunday evening and then begin blood tests and radiology procedures, such as barium enemas to look for GI issues. There were days of tests and treatments, followed by waiting to see if the patients’ conditions improved.”

Another game-changer Riedel mentioned was in cardiac care. “Before medical treatments and cardiac interventions, like heart caths, were available, a patient experiencing a heart attack would be given oxygen, nitroglycerine, and morphine while we waited and hoped he or she would recover. There were no ICUs – that was all we had.”

When Riedel returned to Victoria as a practicing internist, DeTar was a single-story, stucco building on San Antonio Street, Citizens Medical Center had only been open a few years and the cost of a doctor’s office visit was between three and five dollars. He has experienced the evolution of medicine that few other physicians can describe with first-hand knowledge, and he continues to hold office hours five days a week.

“If anyone is considering a career in medicine, I’d like them to know that this is a most rewarding profession. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to care for so many patients, and I look forward to continuing to provide that care for as long as I am able.”

At a surprise birthday celebration held in his honor, DeTar Healthcare System CEO Bernard Leger said, “We wish Dr. Riedel a very happy birthday, and we know that as long as he feels well, he will continue providing his patients with the high-quality medical care they deserve.”