Harrison Alonzo Wigton, MD, had a general practice in Omaha for many years when he took an opportunity to study psychiatry in Vienna in 1909. With this newfound focus, Dr. Wigton returned to Omaha and joined up with George Alexander Young, Sr., MD, who already had a private practice in psychiatry. Their joint endeavor grew into the WAY Clinic, where Dr. Wigton served the Omaha community for forty years along with his partners and his son, Robert Spencer Wigton, MD.
The WAY (Wigton-Aita-Young) Clinic was a private psychiatry practice in Omaha founded at the turn of the century and managed by three generations of preeminent local medical families.
In 1910, George Alexander Young, Sr., MD, opened a private neuropsychiatry practice in Omaha, Nebraska. At the same time, Harrison Alonzo Wigton, MD, was returning to his private general practice at 1820 Vinton Street after post-graduate psychiatry studies in Vienna. The two gentlemen, who had previously worked together at the State Hospital in Lincoln, decided to unite under one roof. By 1918, both men were also volunteer faculty members of UNMC’s Department of Nervous and Mental Diseases, finding a strong partnership in the classroom and the clinic.
As their partnership grew, so did the Wigton and Young families. In 1933, Richard Hart Young, MD, joined his father and Dr. Wigton in practice. A few years later, Robert Spencer Wigton, MD, and George Alexander Young, Jr., MD, did the same, joining the clinic in the mid-1940s after service in World War II. It is at this pivotal moment in 1946 that John A. Aita, MD, joined the team. Originally from Iowa, Dr. Aita had also just returned from military service in World War II when he joined UNMC’s Department of Neurology and Psychiatry. Because faculty positions were still unpaid volunteer work, Dr. Aita also sought out a full-time opportunity with a private practice. Working closely with the Drs. Wigton and Drs. Young at UNMC, Dr. Aita became a natural addition to their clinic.
With this expansion of practitioners came a need for new offices. Previously operating out of the Medical Arts Building at 15th and Dodge Streets, the team found a new home at 49th and Douglas Streets. The new location and the addition of Dr. Aita also provided an opportunity to rename the practice, becoming known as the WAY (Wigton-Aita-Young) Clinic.
While the senior Dr. Young and Dr. Wigton retired in the 1950s, the second generation of Wigtons and Youngs, along with Dr. Aita, kept the practice going. They added new partners, including Harlan Hermann, MD, Robert Dale Jones, MD, and Robert Ellingson, MD, as well as counselors and psychoanalysts. In the early 1970s, George Alexander “Lucky” Young, III, MD, and John F. Aita, MD, became the third generation to join the practice.
Much like the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute, the WAY Clinic was groundbreaking for providing outpatient treatment and services for individuals with mental illness. Many of the partners were also attending psychiatrists at the Omaha area hospitals, including Methodist, Lutheran, Clarkson, St. Joseph, and University Hospital.
The WAY Clinic came to an end in the early 1980s with the retirement of Dr. Robert Spencer Wigton, Dr. John A. Aita, and Dr. George A. Young, Jr. However, the lasting impact these families had on the study and practice of psychiatry in Omaha continues. Learn more about each individual and their own journey connected to the WAY Clinic below.
Robert Spencer Wigton, MD, the son of Harrison Alonzo Wigton, MD, followed in his father’s footsteps, graduating from UNMC in 1935 and completing residencies in neurology and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. After serving in World War II, Dr. Wigton returned to Omaha and joined his father in practice and as a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at UNMC. Taking the mantle from his father, Dr. Wigton grew the clinic along with George Alexander Young, Jr., MD, and John A. Aita, MD, PhD, for over 30 years.
George Alexander Young, Sr., MD, opened a private psychiatry practice in Omaha in 1910. By the mid-1910s, Dr. Young, Sr. united his practice with the practice of Harrison Alonzo Wigton, MD, another professor in the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry. Their practice was the predecessor of the WAY (Wigton-Aita-Young) Clinic. Dr. Young led the practice for 40 years, passing on his passion to his children and grandchildren who also practiced at the WAY Clinic.
Richard Hart Young, MD, returned to Omaha in 1933 after two specialty internships in psychiatry and neurology to join his father in practice and as a faculty member at UNMC. Over the course of his career, Dr. Young helped grow the private practice into a clinic in partnership with Harrison Alonzo Wigton, MD, Robert Spencer Wigton, MD, and John A. Aita, MD, PhD, which became known as the WAY Clinic. Dr. Young and his partners were attending psychiatrists at the Omaha area hospitals including Methodist, Lutheran, Clarkson, St. Joseph, and University Hospital.
George Alexander Young, Jr., MD
George Alexander Young, Jr., MD, was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1910. The younger brother of Richard Young, MD, and son George Alexander Young, Sr., MD, Dr. Young, Jr. followed in his family’s footsteps, graduating from UNMC in 1936. He spent four years in internship and residency at Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, specializing in internal medicine and psychosomatic medicine. In 1942, Dr. Young, Jr. joined the U.S. Medical Corps and was stationed in Wales and France during World War II, eventually reaching the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
Upon his honorable discharge from the military in 1946, Dr. Young, Jr. returned to Omaha where he joined his father and brother in practice. Dr. Young, Jr. also joined his family as a faculty member at UNMC, starting out as an instructor in the Department of Internal Medicine. In 1952, Dr. Young, Jr. joined the Department of Psychiatry and worked under his brother, Richard, who was chair at the time, and also worked with the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute. He went on to serve the department for almost 30 years, becoming associate professor emeritus in neurology and psychiatry in 1980. Dr. Young retired to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and passed away in 1990.
George A. Young, III. MD, was called back to Omaha by his father in 1972, at which point he joined the WAY Clinic. He served with his family in practice for many years, departing to open his own practice at 85th and Cass Streets a few years before the WAY Clinic closed. Dr. Young, III has served both Nebraska and Iowa in the field of mental health and has been affiliated with Clarinda Regional Health Center, Montgomery County Memorial Hospital, and the Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership.
After World War II, John A. Aita, MD, PhD, returned to the Omaha-Council Bluffs area in search of a private psychiatry practice. He joined the Wigtons and Youngs in practice, creating the WAY Clinic. Dr. Aita also joined the Wigtons and Youngs on the faculty in the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry at UNMC. As a member of the department, Dr. Aita was active at the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute. He served UNMC and the Omaha community for over 30 years, becoming professor emeritus and retiring from practice in the 1980s.
Born in 1944, John F. Aita, MD, is the son of John A. Aita, MD, and Nellie (Fordyce) Aita. Dr. Aita received his medical degree from UNMC in 1968 and specialized in neurology. He joined his father in practice in 1974 and opened his own practice in the 1980s when his father retired. Dr. Aita has been affiliated with Methodist Hospital and Nebraska Medicine throughout his career.