Doc puts faith into healing, opens Catholic pediatric practice

Fri, Feb 23rd 2018 08:00 am
Staff Reporter
Gloria M. Roetzer, MD, owner of Trinity Pediatrics, stands in her waiting room in front of a print of Adam and Eve. Roetzer opened her practice to combine Catholic teaching and medical care. (Dan Cappellazzo/Staff Photographer)
Gloria M. Roetzer, MD, owner of Trinity Pediatrics, stands in her waiting room in front of a print of Adam and Eve. Roetzer opened her practice to combine Catholic teaching and medical care. (Dan Cappellazzo/Staff Photographer)

Trinity Pediatrics is not like any other doctor's office. Copies of Theology of the Body for children sit in the waiting room. Parents are given full information on vaccines. The doctor prays for her patients.

Sitting in Dr. Gloria Roetzer's office, among pictures of her children and grandchildren, is her motto - "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." Her office is where faith and science go hand in hand. As a Catholic pediatrician, Roetzer wants to keep kids not only physically healthy, but emotionally healthy as well. She feels spiritual health cakes that connection.

Theology of the Body is St. John Paul II's examination of the human body, love and sex, with reflections on Scripture and the value of the human person.

"To me, if kids have spirituality in their lives, they do better. Anybody, even adults; if you have faith, you can handle the highs and lows that you are going to have in your life. So, I have a lot of spiritual resources," Roetzer said in between patients. "When we have teenagers who are having problems with depression, problems with anxiety, we can give them some references as to how to deal with that and pray for them, because prayer is powerful."

Opened a year ago and now operating out of a Cheektowaga location, Trinity offers everything a standard pediatric office does, plus a little more. Roetzer maintains a practice faithful to the magisterium, allowing her patients to make fully informed decisions on issues like vaccines and birth control. Some vaccines are created using aborted fetal cells. Roetzer informs her patients of that fact and uses alternative vaccines when available. She also advises against artificial hormones in favor of natural remedies. She has heard of a 10-year-old girl being put on birth control pills to deal with menstrual cramps. Roetzer suggested magnesium, which has been shown to reduce cramps without introducing hormones into the body. It's good for the body and in line with Catholic teaching.

"To me, that is true informed consent, knowing what's there," Roetzer said.

The doctor does more than treat the ills and ouches. She often prays for her patients, and has seen positive results. Despite being a person of science, she believes in miracles.

"I had a patient at the other place. He was a troubled teenager. According to the chart, he had a history of drug abuse and dropped out of school. A lot of problems. He came in with a cold or some sickness. I said, 'Lord, I don't know what you want me to do for this poor kid. I'm not going to change him with just a 15-minute visit.' While I was listening to him, I prayed over him. I said, 'Lord, let this person find You. If this boy can find You in his life, his life will be better.' Three months later, I saw him again. I come in and he says, 'Since my last appointment, I was able to get off the drugs and I found Jesus.'  I think it was a confirmation that the Lord wants me to recognize that prayer is powerful, that I can pray for my patients. It's one of the best things I can do for them."

During daily Mass at St. Gregory the Great in Williamsville, she offers petitions for past, present and future patients.

One of 13 children herself, Roetzer got married at a young age and raised her children while working as a secretary at the Buffalo VA Medical Center. She entered UB Medical School for pediatrics, graduated at the age of 40, and began work at what she calls a "secular large group practice." That lasted 20 years, until she disagreed with the practice of not treating patients who have not had vaccinations. Some pro-life parents have refused to have their children vaccinated with vaccines using aborted fetal cells. Roetzer's former office would not treat them. She was also reprimanded for advising a patient to pray for assistance.  

"It didn't feel right to me," she said. "We had people who had been there for a while and they're being kicked out. I don't want to be part of that. Plus there are so many regulations now with all this electronic stuff. You're working later hours trying to get all the paperwork that the government and whoever else, insurance companies, want you to do. So, it's not as pleasant as it was."

She planned to retire and take care of her youngest grandchild. But, after meeting a pediatrician in Philadelphia, still working at age 80, Roetzer realized there was more work to be done.

"Maybe the Lord wants me to work longer, maybe I should. Things began to fall into place," she said, describing how a friend rented her space after hours at an Urgent Care sight, before finding a former OB-GYN office on Union Road next to William in Cheektowaga, now the home of Trinity Pediatrics.

The Cheektowaga location opened in October and has a steady flow of patients. Roetzer gets referrals through home school groups that have children who haven't been vaccinated.  

"I think I'm seeing a lot of outcasts," she said. "For whatever reason, they were kicked out of their pediatric offices. Some of them didn't even have care." One mother she knows has a 6-year-old boy who has not seen a doctor since he was 2, because she does not vaccinate. "I think it's hindering them from getting care. They feel like they don't have a choice."

As president of the Buffalo Chapter of the Catholic Medical Association, a national, physician-led community of health care professionals that informs, organizes and inspires its members in fidelity to the Catholic Church. Roetzer attends national meetings and brings back information to the local chapter.

"We talk about how faith and reason go together," she said. "It tells us as physicians, we will do a lot better with the Lord helping us. If we remember that, our patients will benefit greatly."

Roetzer's passion earned her a Pro-Vita Award, presented by the Diocesan Office of Pro-Life Activities, in 2017.

"Gloria has found a way in her career as a pediatrician, to care for her young patients as well as guide their parents to make sound health care decisions, and at the same time integrate their faith while raising their children," said Cheryl Calire, director of Pro-Life Activities. "She has walked in their shoes, so she brings that perspective forward with her own personal experiences. She was someone who immediately came to mind when suggesting to Bishop (Richard J.) Malone she receive the Pro-Vita award in 2017."  

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