Surrounded by images of SpongeBob SquarePants and submarine and safari adventures, Dr. Maria Nieves Gutierrez-Go works in an environment that more resembles children’s dreams than the clinical atmosphere of the typical doctor’s office.
|The pediatrician operates the 7,600-square-foot Valley Children’s Medical Center in Indio with her husband, Juanito Go. In the past, she served as chair of pediatrics at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, also in Indio.
As a young woman growing up with 14 siblings in the Philippines, Gutierrez-Go knew early on that she wanted to work in a profession that cared for people. Two older sisters were nurses.
“They were caregivers, and I could genuinely relate to that,” she says. “But I also knew that, as a doctor, I could accomplish even more in terms of decisions and management and making an impact on people’s lives.”
After immigrating to the United States in 1986, Gutierrez-Go continued her education in pediatrics that began in Manila. She completed internships at Rush University Medical Center and Christ Hospital and Medical Center, both in Chicago.
“I love working with children,” she says. “It’s really rewarding to know that you’re making a difference in their lives, watching them grow from birth to become healthy adults and, possibly, future leaders of our community.”
Gutierrez-Go and her husband launched Valley Children’s Medical Center in September 2006 to provide much-needed quality, extended care in the East Valley. “We have opened our doors to all families from all walks of life, with the goal of influencing and educating people about proper healthcare and [disease] prevention,” she says.
Education on an even grander scale is a key component of Gutierrez-Go’s practice. Valley Children’s Medical Center is one of the first organizations in the Coachella Valley to join the Reach Out and Read Program, a national literacy program that promotes early literacy by distributing age-specific books to young readers. The program is unique in that it is administered through primary care providers like Gutierrez-Go. “As part of the program, we also model in front of them by reading to them and reading ourselves,” the doctor explains. “This way, they will learn to love books as they get older.”
Even with all its rewards, pediatric medicine has its challenges. Vacations are few and far between for Gutierrez-Go (the last one being a short trip up the coast a year ago). The hours are grueling and, sometimes, resistance to proper healthcare is steadfast.
“Occasionally, families come in with the belief that immunizations for their children are not needed, which presents big challenges,” she says. “I give them as much information as I can in the most caring way possible.”