Forest Hills doctor talks travel health
Dr. Karl Neumann was the second doctor to join Forest Hills Pediatrics, which was founded around 1960 and is located at 108-48 70th Road.
“I came to Forest Hills to practice pediatrics in 1963, and I joined Dr. Richard Bass who founded Forest Hills Pediatrics in a private house on 110th Street between 70th Road and 71st Avenue,” said Neumann.
In 1965, the St. Moritz apartment building was completed across the street, and the office became the first tenant. In time, Dr. Reuben Reiman, Dr. Josef Soloway, Dr. Myron Beer, Dr. Jorge Nieves, Dr. Nonna Rivkin, and Dr. Young Kim joined the practice.
Neumann retired a few years ago, but at 88 years old continues to make a difference.
“Almost every time I walk on Queens Boulevard or on Austin Street, someone comes up to me and thanks me for taking care of their kids,” he said. “Two of my former patients became pediatricians, and told me that it was because of my example that they chose medicine and pediatrics.”
Neumann was born in Vienna in 1931, but could not stay for long.
“Since we were Jewish, we had to leave Austria in 1938,” he said. “My younger sister and I were sent to Sweden for two years to live with a very nice family who offered to take in children like us. My parents were able to come to the US. In 1940, and sister and I were sent to the U.S. across the Pacific to New York. I was about ten and she was nine, and we met with my parents at Grand Central Terminal.”
His father was a doctor, a traditional family practitioner in Brooklyn.
“The office was part of the house,” Neumann recalled. “He was on call at all times, and the home phone was also the office phone. He would see patients at all hours, day and night.”
Since his youth, Neumann had a passion for writing. Originally he wrote humor pieces, but could not get published. In 1974, he began writing about the health aspects of travel.
“No one was writing about this subject,” he said. “I decided to write about the health aspects of visiting a famous European spa in Baden-Baden in Germany. I placed my article in an envelope and mailed it ‘to the editor’ of The New York Times, and they printed almost two full pages.”
Not long after, The New York Times published another article titled “Do people gain weight on cruises?” and Dr. Neumann decided to launch a weekly column, “The Healthy Traveler.”
It appeared in The Washington Post, Newsday, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and other publications for over a decade. For 12 years, he also produced a newsletter called “Traveling Healthy.”
For the past decade, he has run “Kids Travel Doc,” a bi-monthly online free newsletter with a mission to help parents keep their children healthy, safe, and comfortable for travel and the outdoors.
In addition, he has lectured on travel health nationwide, and his pursuits have taken him to more than 120 countries, including 15 in Africa.
He also does editing work for the International Society of Travel Medicine, clarifying English in medical manuscripts written by physicians living in non-English speaking countries. He is also a member of Community Board 6.
“I try to be active in community activities,” Neumann said. “I am hoping to get a speed bump for 70th Road to stop cars speeding to make the light at the corner.”