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      Longtime RGA Employee Reflects on 40th Anniversary


      While working at RGA in various roles since 1976, Marshia Hunter witnessed firsthand the growth and evolution of Rockford Gastroenterology Associates (RGA) over the past 40 years, even as the organization moved to different locations across the city.

      Marshia started working with RGA founder Dr. Roger Greenlaw in 1976 when his practice was located at SwedishAmerican Hospital. It was just the two of them, two nurses, a head nurse and a receptionist at the time (Dr. Greenlaw started a solo gastroenterology practice at the hospital in 1975).

      Marshia called herself a "transporter," meaning she did some receptionist work and would help wherever she was needed. In 1980, Dr. Greenlaw, Dr. William Baskin, and Dr. James Frakes established RGA as an independent group practice, moving to a building across the street from Swedes at 1345 Charles St. It became one of the first office-based diagnostic endoscopy centers in the U.S.

      "We grew really fast over there," Marshia recalled. "It was only the top floor at the time, but we grew very quickly. Every new doctor who joined RGA had an expertise of doing bigger and better things."

      RGA doctors have performed diagnostic procedures such as colonoscopies and endoscopies since the beginning, and Marshia remembered other common specialty tests at the time like esophageal manometry and pH studies.

      "I was kind of an assistant because I had not gotten (my nursing degree). I would help develop films in a dark room, getting right in the nitty-gritty, which I loved."

      RGA is still recognized today for its collaborative and respectful culture, and Marshia said good culture was a priority from the beginning.

      "We were just so close," she said. "We had our own parties and we just knew that good things were happening. I still don't think there's any other place like RGA even today."

      To meet the growing demand for GI care in the community, in 1990 RGA moved to its current location at 401 Roxbury Road in 1990. Marshia remembered it being another pivotal moment for the organization.

      Marshia wore many hats during her career at RGA and eventually transitioned to RGA's research department, which she said was "fascinating." While she was working in research, she earned her certified nursing assistant (CNA) degree. She retired from being full time at RGA in 2016 but still fills in – working one day a week or so – as needed in various departments.

      She remains close with current and former RGA doctors and staff.

      "The employee benefits and culture at RGA, those are things you always talked about with other people. You assumed everybody had the same, but you learned very early on that RGA was unique," she said.