The Clinic Roots

By Renee Riordan Olmstead

The Riordan Clinic began as the incredibly fortunate intersection of a dream and a vision. The dream was that of Dr. Hugh D. Riordan, a curious, gifted physician. The vision was that of Olive W. Garvey, a bold, insightful philanthropist.

Hugh Riordan, a medical doctor, practiced psychiatry in Wichita, Kansas, since his arrival in 1958. One of the first things that Dr. Riordan learned as a resident under Dr. Fowler Border Poling was that a good way to keep mental patients out of the state hospital was to give the intravenous vitamin B complex. It was quite effective. Witnessing positive changes in those patients inspired Hugh Riordan to begin investigating the brain/body connection. In those years it took enormous courage to support the notion that health and disease were linked to nutrient status, but because Dr. Riordan was known as the doctor who would take the most difficult psychiatric patients and produce surprisingly positive outcomes with them, his ideas slowly gained respect in the medical community.

In 1975 during a meeting with visiting colleagues, Carl Pfeiffer, M.D., Ph.D., and Bill Schul, Ph.D., Dr. Schul suggested that Dr. Riordan be introduced to the Garvey Foundation. Olive Garvey, the widowed head of the Garvey Enterprises, had a keen interest in nutrition and health. There was an instant meeting of the minds.

Two weeks later Olive agreed to provide funds to found the Clinic based on Hugh’s one-page hand-written proposal, which said in essence: “You don’t know what I am going to do, and I don’t know how I am going to do it, but if you fund it, I will devote three years of my life to making it work.” Olive Garvey, the dowager head of Garvey interests, noted some years later that after having given millions to hospitals and related organizations, she was pleased to report that the money she had given to start the Riordan Clinic was the best philanthropic spending she had ever done.

The laboratory at the Riordan Clinic was especially important because other laboratories were not testing for nutritional levels. Vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, amino acids, hormones, lipids, proteins, fatty acids, heavy metals and special assays collected from blood, hair, urine, and skin swabs are the foundation for finding the cause of diseases. Charles Hinshaw, M.D. was the first medical director of the laboratory and is back with us today leading the laboratory once again.

Research programs in the Riordan Clinic Research Institute attracted medical doctors from around the world. RECNAC (cancer spelled backwards) started in 1985 with a goal of finding orthomolecular (natural) means to cure cancers. This research was designed to be of benefit to the patients as directly and as quickly as possible. High dose IV vitamin C research was the cornerstone of RECNAC. As a result of the Riordan Clinic’s preeminence in the use of high-dose vitamin C, physicians from many foreign countries came thousands of miles to learn more, and today many follow the Riordan IVC protocol.

Education, locally and internationally, was also a role of the Clinic. In the early days, a children’s show was produced and aired on public television called “One of a Kind.” The Health Hunters Newsletter provides monthly updates on the latest health issues. For decades doctors interacted with groups during the Lunch and Lecture series while participants enjoyed a healthy organic lunch made with vegetables grown in our organic garden. Lectures are open to the public, as well as on streaming video via the Internet around the world. The Clinic has sponsored 17 International Conferences, which spawned numerous books published under the Clinic’s Bio-Communications Press. A series of books written by Hugh Riordan called “Medical Mavericks” is a part of our publication.

On the cold and wintry morning of Friday, January 7, 2005, Dr. Riordan was at work in his office at his beloved Clinic. Shortly before noon, he penned what would later be discovered to be his final thoughts, finishing the last volume of his “Medical Mavericks” trilogy with the words: “What we learn from these superb observers and orthomolecular doers can literally change our lives for the better. That is why “Medical Mavericks Three” has been written.” Minutes later Dr. Riordan passed away in his office.

The core of the Riordan Clinic is our outpatient services provided in the Olive W. Garvey Center for Healing Arts, led by Ron Hunninghake, M.D., who arrived at the Clinic in 1988 and trained with Dr. Riordan for 17 years. Dr. Ron and his team of caring professionals offer hope and relief to thousands of patients each year.

Olive’s vision and Hugh’s dream are eloquently summed up by a comment Mrs. Garvey made in the 1980’s: “The Center [Riordan Clinic] represents the growing philosophy of keeping well and not just curing sickness or treating symptoms, but finding the cause behind the symptoms and eliminating it.”