Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Longtime area rheumatologist Louis Ricca dies at 76

ST. PETERSBURG — Cold weather and illness drove a young Louis Ricca to St. Petersburg some 66 years ago.

An expertise in rheumatic illnesses kept him here, turning his office near Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue S into a fixture for 32 years. Dr. Louis Ricca, one of the area's first rheumatologists, died Nov. 12 at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, of heart failure. He was 76.

St. Petersburg provided Dr. Ricca with a steady stream of seniors whose medical mysteries he enjoyed solving.

"It might have been a lingering injury that popped back in. Old war injuries coming back," said Lou Ricca III, Dr. Ricca's son. "Or something as simple as stepping out of a car at a shopping center."

Rheumatologists treat arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones; but also sometimes organs such as the kidneys, lungs and brain. In 1974 there were only 2,000 rheumatologists in the United States. Dr. Ricca was one of five practicing in the St. Petersburg area.

Because many illnesses he treated were chronic rather than acute, reimbursement often lagged behind medical need. Dr. Ricca was a strong advocate for patients, battling providers and insurance companies.

"Dad did not shy away from the spotlight, and he liked to call a spade a spade," said Louis Ricca III, 38.

Louis Ralph Ricca was born in 1937 in Staten Island, N.Y. His father, a truck driver, died of leukemia when Dr. Ricca was 7. Before that death and after, he suffered bouts of rheumatic fever, combined influences that pushed him to medicine as a career, his family said.

At age 10, his mother moved him to Florida to escape the cold. Dr. Ricca graduated from the University of Miami and its medical school. He opened his St. Petersburg practice around 1966, a lifeline for hundreds of patients with aches and pains they hadn't found words to identify.

An instant attraction and bond with Mary Ann Monisky in 1973 resulted in a marriage that had lasted 39 years at the time of his death.

In 1992, Dr. Ricca became outraged when one of his patients, a retired nurse, was billed $1,292 for some blood work he had requested.

When his protests to University General Hospital of Seminole went unanswered, Dr. Ricca found an outpatient testing lab that charged $278 for the same tests. The hospital eventually reduced the bill by $500, citing a computer coding error.

He spent three years at Suncoast Medical Clinic, leaving in 1998 after the clinic was bought by the Nashville-based PhyCor Inc. He worked part-time as a rheumatologist and professor at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, and as a researcher for Radiant Research.

Away from work, he enjoyed gardening around his Allendale home. He celebrated spontaneously, calling family members to go out to a restaurant to "have cake," his all-inclusive term for a good time.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.

Comments

A 30-year-old demanded notice for eviction from his parents’ house. ‘Outrageous,’ a judge said.

Michael Rotondo refuses to move out of his parents’ house.So much so that the 30-year-old argued for a half-hour with a judge in Upstate New York on Tuesday, saying that while he knew his parents wanted him out of their split-level ranch, he was enti...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Rays morning after: Faria frustrated after latest letdown

Rays morning after: Faria frustrated after latest letdown

Whatever pain RHP Jake Faria was feeling as a result of the oblique muscle on the left side he strained throwing a fourth-inning slider to Boston's Hanley Ramirez couldn't compare to the hurt in his heart.Forced to leave Tuesday's game and likely hea...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Words of wisdom from Class of 2018 on how school shootings have transformed them

Words of wisdom from Class of 2018 on how school shootings have transformed them

TAMPA — The pain of the Parkland shootings Feb. 14 was fresh on the minds of Hillsborough County’s graduating seniors when about 300 of them received an assignment. Write a 250-word essay on how decades of school shootings have touched y...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: Relative calm before Invest 90L threatens to deluge Tampa Bay this weekend

Forecast: Relative calm before Invest 90L threatens to deluge Tampa Bay this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — While rain chances will decrease over the next two days, it is only a relative calm before a broad low pressure system moves into the Gulf of Mexico, producing strong storms across an already drenched Tampa Bay for Memorial Day weeke...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Now that we’ve got Gators-Bulls, what about the Willie Bowl?

Now that we’ve got Gators-Bulls, what about the Willie Bowl?

Now that USF has added another proverbial prime cut (Florida) to its non-conference football slate, one can only ponder how much beefier it can get.We know you've tossed around a few tantalizing matchups in your head, and truth be told, so have we.Re...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

It's hard to miss new Bucs center Ryan Jensen at OTA workouts this week, with his long red hair visible from across the field even when he's wearing a helmet."Any recommendations for anti frizz shampoo and conditioner?" Jensen wrote on Twitter with a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Woman, 87, killed in collision while driving wrong way near Brooksville, FHP says

Woman, 87, killed in collision while driving wrong way near Brooksville, FHP says

BROOKSVILLE— An 87-year-old motorist died Tuesday night after she collided with a pickup truck while driving on the wrong side of the road, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash occurred about 8:50 p.m. as Patricia Green Marlette of Brook...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Stat to watch in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Stat to watch in Game 7

We asked the Times' Lightning coverage team what's the statistic to watch in tonight's Game 7 of the Lightning-Capitals series (8 p.m., NBC Sports Network). Here's their answers. Share yours in the comments section below:Martin Fennelly, columnist:&#...
Updated: 3 hours ago
At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

TAMPA — The name of the new Bay 3 co-working space at the Armature Works goes back to World War I, when the red-brick warehouse overlooking the Hillsborough River was the maintenance barn for Tampa Electric’s streetcar system.As the name suggests, it...
Updated: 3 hours ago