One hundred years of care

One hundred years of care

Garden City Optometrists celebrates 100 years in practice. Back row, from left, Dawn Williams, O.D., Matthew Gerstberger, O.D, Toan A. Nguyen, O.D. Front row, from left, Brandon Dahl, O.D., and Michael Hausmann, O.D.

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was president, a first-class stamp cost just 2 cents and Garden City Optometrists, in Garden City, Kansas, opened its doors for the first time.

"When a patient travels 200 to 300 miles for an appointment, it is important to have the product ready to use when they leave town."

The original one-doctor practice, called Modern Optical Service and operated by its founder William Howard, O.D., for 42 years, has grown to five doctors plus 17 employees. There also is a satellite office in nearby Leoti, Kansas.

To celebrate its 100 years, Garden City Optometrists unveiled a new logo at the end of 2015 and hosted a trunk show in February. The highlight of the year-long celebration was a "birthday party" on April 16.  Former physicians, patients, families and the community were invited to share in the celebration.

"The doctors before us worked hard to get us to this point," says Dawn Williams, O.D., Garden City Optometrists' senior partner. "You feel a responsibility to fill those shoes and be the best we can be for the next 100 years."

David Torrey, O.D., who joined the practice in 1979 and retired after 33 years, adds, "I am proud to have been a member of the group of 15 different doctors over the years who have come and gone or who are practicing currently.  Several things need to fall into place for that success to happen. Patient service is at the top of the list. If you don't have that, you just as well hang it up. "

Secrets to success
Current and former doctors cite a number of factors for their success, including a collaborative atmosphere and associates' stability. But geography and service matter most.

With a population of about 27,000, Garden City is a hub for southwest Kansas. It's common for patients to make a day of their trip to the practice—Garden City Optometrists draws from Kansas and Colorado and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles.

Generations of rural families keep coming back. The practice—whose youngest patient is under a year old and oldest is 103—sees about 13,000 patients annually.

"We've always tried to put patient care No. 1," says Dr. Williams, noting the amount of time the doctors spend individually with patients during visits.

"People in Garden City feel a sense of pride when they talk about how they go to an eye doctor who their parents went to and their grandparents went to," says Michael A. Hausmann, O.D., the newest associate at Garden City Optometrists.

Modern matters, too, after 100 years.

 "We have a significant investment in our laboratory and have the ability to produce nearly any prescription on the same day as the appointment," partner Matthew Gerstberger, O.D., says. "When a patient travels 200 to 300 miles for an appointment, it is important to have the product ready to use when they leave town at the end of the day."

Dr. Gerstberger grew up on a farm north of Leoti, Kansas. "I got my first pair of glasses at Garden City Optometrists in 1981. It was especially good for our family to come to Garden City. It was only an hour-long drive, and my parents could do some bulk shopping, get parts for the machinery, and we could leave with our eyewear. I am the third generation of Gerstbergers to rely on this clinic for our eye care needs."

Click here to read more doctors' secrets to a long, successful career.

April 18, 2016

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