Dr. Modesto S. Gometz has spent most of his adult life seeing to it that children get a healthy start in life. 

Dr. Modesto S. Gometz has spent most of his adult life seeing to it that children get a healthy start in life.  

“I have over 150 people who were patients of mine who brought back their children to me to take care of them,” said the longtime Pittsburg pediatrician. “I have a great satisfaction with that.”

He dedicated his practice to children from birth to age 19, but sometimes stretched that rule a few years.

“We had some patients who didn’t want to go, so we took care of them until they moved,” Gometz said.

That came to an end Sept. 30, when Gometz officially retired from his practice at the Children and Teenagers Clinic. His associate, Dr. Jim McDaniel, will continue in the practice.

A native of Ipacarari, Paraguay, he first earned a degree of public accountant at the National School of Commerce, then a bachelor of Science at the National College, both in Paraguay. He received his medical degree in 1963 from the National University in Paraguay, and did his residency from 1964 to 1967 at the Pediatric National University in Paraguay.

“When I was a medical student, I went to the pediatric department and found that I loved to work with children,” Gometz said. “Nothing else came to my mind but to take care of children.”

He came to the United States in 1968 and did an internship from 1968 to 1969 at Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk, Conn.,  a Yale-New Haven Affiliate Program. Following this, Gometz did a residency in pediatrics at the University of Kansas Medical Center from 1969 to 1971 and took a postgraduate course on mental retardation in 1972 at Harvard University.

He worked several years at the Parsons State Hospital and Training Center, serving first as staff physician, then director of child development services and clinical director.

Gometz began his full-time private practice in Pittsburg in 1975.

“I worked alone for 10 years, then Dr. McDaniel joined me,” he said.

The treatment of children has changed over the years, along some of the diseases they faced. Measles, mumps, chicken pox and polio are now rarely seen because children are vaccinated against them.

“Immunization is much more advanced than we used to have,” Gometz said. “In the past it was more difficult to get parents to bring children in for immunizations.”

Rheumatic fever,  which can follow strep throat or other strep infections, is also much less common.

“I used to see rheumatic fever cases every week during my first residency in pediatrics in Paraguay, but I haven’t seen it for years,” Gometz said.
“The last time I saw it was when I was a resident at KU. But there’s still quite a bit of strep, and I saw a case of scarlet fever a few weeks ago.”
He has been very happy at the strides made against childhood leukemia.

“When I was at KU, I took care of many leukemia patients, and most of them didn’t do very well,” Gometz said. “Many died from it. Now a leukemia patient I had is cured, he’s married and brings his children to see me.”

He has a particular interest in Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological condition marked by facial and sometimes vocal tics such as blinking and throat clearing. It’s estimated that between one and 10 children in 1,000 have the condition in some degree, but many cases are so mild that the remain undetected.

“When I came there were few neurologists around, so I began treating these children,” Gometz said. “At one time I had about 50 Tourette’s patients from around the four-state area. Many of them are now grown and college graduates. Tourette’s has nothing to do with intellect, and many people with it are highly intelligent.”

He has shared his wide medical knowledge as an adjunct professor of psychology and counselor of education at Pittsburg State University from 1972 to 1975, and was a clinical instructor at the KU Medical Center from 1975 to 2000 and a clinical assistant professor in pediatrics at the University of Kansas Medical School, Wichita, from 1980 to 1990.

He served on the Governor’s Coordinating Council on Early Childhood Developmental Services from 1989 to 2005, was president of Mt. Carmel Hospital Medical Staff in 1987-88, and chairman of the Health Advisory Committee of the National Foundation March of Dimes from 1975 to 1980. Gometz is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a Fellow of the International College of Pediatrics. He holds memberships in the Kansas Medical Association, Crawford County Medical Association and the Tourette’s Syndrome Association.

Though he cherishes his homeland’s rich cultural heritage, Gometz is a proud naturalized American citizen. He and his wife, Milda, have two sons. One is a computer programmer in Kansas City, and the younger is in his third year of residency in internal medicine at the University of Chicago.

Gometz intends to remain active.

“I’m going to help out at the Community Health Center two days a week,” he said.

He also hopes to visit area classrooms to visit with teachers and children to educate them about their students and classmates who have Tourette’s.

“I want to do this for the community,” Gometz said.

He can also look back with satisfaction and joy over all the years that he cared for children, easing their pains and fears,  helping them grow to become healthy adults.

“If I had it to do over again, I would,” Gometz said.