[Episcopal News Service – Miami, Florida] Dianne Pizey’s introduction to the health-care needs in Haiti came in 2006 when she took an exploratory trip to help her parish, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, find a an overseas mission partner. Pizey assumed her goal was to find a mission partner for St. John’s “and that my being a doctor had nothing to do with any of this.”
While in Haiti she met Carmel Valdema, a public health nurse who runs nutrition clinics for children aged six months to four years at each of the parishes pastored by her husband, the Rev. Fritz Valdema, of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti.
Pizey, a pediatrician, went to the clinic in Crochu and was stunned to learn that the 200 families with their malnourished children never received any actual medical care.
“It just came out of my mouth: ‘I’m coming back to help you,’” Pizey recalled telling Carmel Valdema.
But, she said, she had no idea how to fulfill that promise. A series of chance encounters and a networking effort later, Pizey returned to run mobile medical clinics at the Valdemas’ churches. Then the Rev. Kerwin Delicat, rector of St. John’s partner parish of St Philippe & St Jacques in Gressier, asked her to hold clinics there.
Since then, “we’ve just been learning over the years; we’ve been going every six months and learning how to do things from each other and from the Haitian doctors and from Carmel and from Hilda [Alcindor, dean of the FSIL School of Nursing in Léogâne],” she said.
Pizey, speaking during a break in the Sept. 6-7 Haiti Medical Missions Best Practices Symposium, describes how her work in Haiti has changed her medical practice in Minnesota – and her life.
An ENS report on the symposium is here.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.