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Local doctor takes practice to West Indies nation

Dr. Edward Miedema remembers having to tell the little boy’s parents to just take him home, that there was nothing he could do.
Their son, suffering from chronic renal failure, was going to die.
A photograph Miedema has also stands out in his mind. A little girl who at the time was only 10.
She was very sick and has since died.
Miedema said he meets a lot of patients who he knows will not make it.
He says his patients in Haiti simply do not have the resources they need to be cared for.
But this is why Miedema has stepped forward in helping Lumiere Medical Ministries, a non-profit mission in Gastonia to help Haitians with their health needs. Miedema has been helping with them since 1980.
“Initially I felt it was God’s calling,” he said. “I knew there was a huge medical need there.”
Local residents at Wayne’s Second Friday Feast at Capt’n Pete’s Restaurant in Denver came out Friday morning to hear about Miedema’s experiences in Haiti.
The urologist takes trips frequently to practice volunteer medicine in Haiti. He also has his own office in Lincolnton and will be offering services at the East Lincoln HealthCare Pavilion two days a month to East Lincoln residents.
Miedema is planning a trip this year to Haiti in October. He has also lived there for four and a half years
When Miedema visits Haiti he usually goes with a group of doctors.
He said at first it was a culture shock, but now he is used to it.
“It is a very different way of life. We liked it, but some people wouldn’t,” he said. “There is no television and no telephones, but people are warm and appreciative.”
He is hoping to recruit more urologists to help there.
“Hospital Lumiere,” has been established in Haiti and includes general surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, urology and orthopedics.
Miedema said the technology is at the level of what America would have been in the 1950s.
The operating equipment is old, there is no air-conditioning and there are screens on the window.
But Miedema says he manages best he can.
“The infection rate is low thanks to God’s grace,” Miedema said.
The hospital has 120 beds and five to six doctors as well as patients coming from all over Haiti. The road leading to the hospital receives no maintenance. Miedema says the road has huge pot holes and the hospital can only be accessed by four-wheel drive vehicles.
Poor people have to ride public transportation to get around, which involves sitting on a bench in the back of a pick-up truck.
There is no running water and poor people must dig to a water pipe and knock a hole in it for water to drink or bathe.
Miedema said people can be seen on the roads trekking the water in big jugs.
The urology wing is described as a big empty warehouse with 20 steal cot beds and nothing else.
“There is no equipment, no medicine. It’s just a bare room. It’s just terrible,” he said.
In Haiti, electricity is only provided for two to three hours a day.
Most people don’t have electricity at all, but those that do have power experience frequent blackouts.
In order for the hospital to function properly, a hydroelectric facility has been installed to generate electricity.
There is also a clinic next to the hospital which serves a population of 60,000 Haitians.
“It is a miracle that God has allowed us to stay open,” he said.
Miedema will continue to find time to travel and offer his time to patients in Haiti.
For more information visit Lumiere Medical Ministries at www.lovetheycanfeel.org.

by Amy Wadsworth

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