May 20, 2024

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Olean natives return home to begin specialized medical practices | News

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(This is the first of a two-part story on two Olean natives who returned home to practice medicine in their communities. Part two will be printed in Wednesday’s edition of the Times Herald.)

OLEAN — Matthew and Jessica Witte have called Olean home nearly their entire lives.

The only times they didn’t live in their hometown was during medical school when they trained in Binghamton, Syracuse and Latrobe, Pa. But during their residencies, the married couple already knew where they wanted to set up a practice — back where it all began.

“I think that was always the plan. Both of our families are here,” said Dr. Jess Witte, who opened her family practice in Olean in August 2022. “It was important to us to be able to spend time with them, especially after being away for college.”

Dr. Matthew Witte then joined her earlier this year with his practice in sports medicine, both at Olean Medical Group and even in the same office suite. He said they both realized they weren’t quite big city people and felt more comfortable in a small-town setting.

“It felt like for about 10 years we were constantly three hours away from family,” he said. “We got used to that distance, but it’s been nice to finally be back in our hometown.”

For Matt, becoming a doctor always seemed like a foregone conclusion — his father is Dr. Gilbert Witte, a pulmonologist in Olean, and his mother is former mayor Linda Witte, a retired nurse.

“Medical stuff is just what I knew growing up so that was always what I thought I wanted to do,” he said. “The harder part is deciding what in medicine you want to do, and that took me a while.

For Jess, although her grandmother was a nurse, her interest in medicine came during high school when she had a complicated knee injury. With a great experience with her doctor in Buffalo, both before and after the knee surgery, she said her interest was piqued.

“We both were interested in health care at that point and did the New Visions program through BOCES, which helped us both see what some of the different fields were,” she said.

WASHINGTON WEST BEGINNINGThe two first met when Jess was in fifth grade and Matt was in fourth grade at Washington West Elementary. They began dating in their teens and have been together ever since.

After high school, Jess went to Binghamton University and Matt joined her a year later. They worked out their schedules to finish their undergrad work at the same time and go to SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse in the same class.

As part of their medical rotations, the pair joined the Rural Medical Scholars Program, which helps students gain experience in rural areas of the state, something they were both interested in since they wanted to practice in Olean.

“There were chunks of time where we could come back,” Jess said. “My extended family is super close with my grandparents, so I think being around and being with family was really important.”

“We did a lot of our rotations actually here in Olean during our third and fourth years of medical school,” Matt said. “We rotated with a lot of the local doctors here when we were still med students.”

After finishing at SUNY Upstate, the Wittes served their residencies in family medicine in Latrobe, outside Pittsburgh, Pa. At the end of their residencies, Jess took the first leap and started the family medicine practice back home, offering general primary care for ages 12 and up with a specialization in obesity medicine.

“In residency, one of our attendings started a weight management clinic in our residency office and I was really interested in that,” she said. “I split some elective time with her and was able to see a lot of her patients and help her because she’s only one person and it grew very quickly.”

When Jess’s attending physician went on maternity leave, she took on a bigger role in seeing the clinic’s patients and keeping it going during those months. At the end of her residency, she said she had gained enough experience to qualify for the exam to be a diplomat of obediency medicine.

ESTABLISHED IN OLEANNow set up in Olean, Jess said the obesity medicine portion of her practice includes lifestyle intervention with diet and exercise programs as well as medication management and seeing patients in the office.

“I had a lot of the building blocks ready to go since I watched somebody just a couple of years before me start it on their own,” she said. “I knew a lot of pieces that I needed to build it so it made it a lot easier than just starting from scratch.”

Meanwhile, Matt did one more year of sports medicine fellowship training at the University at Buffalo. But he said it was his rotation with Dr. Mohaned Al-Humadi in Olean that most helped guide him in that direction.

“I knew in med school I really liked ortho and musculoskeletal stuff and that really resonated with me,” he said. “When I realized primary care sports medicine is a specialty, which is basically non-operative orthopedics, that’s what I ended up doing.”

Still trained primarily in family medicine, Matt said he also sees patients with minor or acute problems for other primary care providers to help with availability to get more patients in. However, his main focus is sports medicine, which he described as orthopedics without surgery as well as concussion patients.

“So things like treating fractures non-operatively — putting splints or casts on people and monitoring their X-rays to make sure they’re healing properly,” he explained. He also treats muscle, ligament and tendon tears as well as more chronic muscle or skeletal pain, arthritis and ultrasonic-guided injections and procedures.

“If they need surgery, I know these guys pretty well and I know who to get them to,” Matt added. “I also know a lot of the specialists in Buffalo since that’s where I did my training, so if they ever need to see somebody out of town, I know pretty well who to send them to up there.”

Matt also trained with concussion specialists in Buffalo who have done a lot of recent research into more active treatments. He said it’s a multi-faceted approach that includes treating everything from mood swings to migraines to ADHD symptoms.

Now that the Wittes are seeing patients from several different healthcare areas in their hometown community, the two can’t wait to continue growing their practices through collaborations with established practitioners and upcoming students.

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