Family Practitioner John Opilka, DO, knows his patients as more than just patients. They are like extended family.
“The people of Altamont are some of the best. They are salt-of-the-earth people who you want to be friends with,” Dr. Opilka said. “You can’t help but talk to them when you’re at the grocery store!”
After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Opilka has joined Sarah Bush Lincoln. He and his team of four advanced nurse practitioners are now caring for patients at the SBL Altamont Medical Center. He is excited to unite his flourishing practice with an organization that is focused on excellence, so he can provide his patients with an even higher level of care.
As a family practitioner, Dr. Opilka said listening to patients is the most vital part of practicing medicine. Family practitioners often know more about their patients’ backgrounds and lifestyles than other physicians, since they treat patients across many years. He added that getting to know his patients in Altamont is especially easy because of the great community.
Dr. Opilka grew up in Chicago Heights, a southern suburb of Chicago. His father was a dentist, which motivated him to pursue medicine. “I saw his interactions with his patients, and I knew I wanted to be a part of providing care to others in some fashion,” Dr. Opilka said. A deep love of family and caring about people provided further inspiration.
In 1996, Dr. Opilka graduated from medical school at Des Moines University. He then completed a residency in family practice at Carle Foundation Hospital in Champaign. Following residency in 1999, Dr. Opilka moved to the Effingham area to work at a clinic. He saw that a need for family practice care was not being met in Altamont, so he opened a private practice with a partner a year later. Since 2000, Dr. Opilka’s medical practice has grown from one advanced nurse practitioner to four, to accommodate an increasing volume of patients.
“It’s a great community, and I am fortunate to be here,” Dr. Opilka said. “Being a part of people’s lives and helping them through transitions is very rewarding.”
Dr. Opilka said he feels a tremendous responsibility to soothe patients’ fears and educate them, in an effort to provide the best care possible. The highs and lows of patient care have trained him to be the provider he is today. “Watching a patient’s life improve dramatically because of our treatment plans is the most rewarding part of medicine,” Dr. Opilka said.
“I know I am better physician now than I was 20 years ago. You are always learning in medicine. Every day brings something new. With that comes a certain excitement,” Dr. Opilka said.
When asked about his greatest achievement, Dr. Opilka cites marrying his wife, Lisa, a testament to his commitment to family. He and his wife have five children – Tyler, Luke, Alexis, Elizabeth, and John, Jr. The Opilka family members enjoy playing sports-- from hockey to soccer to gymnastics. All three Opilka boys have played hockey at different levels, ranging from collegiate to professional. Above all, the Opilka family loves the traveling and time spent together that athletics offers.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Opilka and his team, call the SBL Altamont Medical Center at 618 483-6151. It is located at 8 North Third Street in Altamont.