Prosser doctor to help typhoon survivors

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldNovember 30, 2013 

Dr. Albert Fiedler will be leaving behind his usual exam rooms and equipment at the Kadlec Medical Clinic in Prosser when he and his wife Caroline leave for the Philipines for two weeks. They will be going with Heart to Heart International to help with the medical issues that the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan are facing.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

A Prosser doctor is stepping away from his practice for two weeks to help survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Dr. Albert Fiedler and his wife, Caroline, left Seattle on Saturday and will travel for two days before setting foot in the coastal city of Ormoc in western Leyte.

The couple are working with Heart to Heart International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that provides medical aid, training and relief for crises and natural disasters around the world.

Fiedler is a Kadlec family physician who works at Adventist Health Medical Clinic on Chardonnay Avenue. His nurse practitioner took his on-call assignment this week so he could fill a need in the Philippines.

He will work from sunrise to nightfall in a temporary medical clinic and will supervise his wife, who is a licensed practical nurse.

The Fiedlers have done a lot of mission service abroad, both through their work and the Grandview Church of the Nazarene. They feel very blessed that they're able to provide aid while visiting different continents.

Albert Fiedler gets an adrenaline rush when helping people, he said. He admits a benefit of disaster relief is that it doesn't come with the same protocol that's necessary in the United States, particularly all the charting that is required for patients.

"I get to practice medicine all day long, and make a difference in somebody's life," Fiedler, 58, told the Herald before leaving. "It's really spiritually uplifting. I come back and am on a high for three months, so that's why I do it."

The super typhoon swept through the central Philippines on Nov. 8, killing more than 5,000 people. Thousands more are still missing.

The storm -- known to Filipinos as Yolanda -- is reported to have been one of the most powerful typhoons ever to make landfall, with sustained winds of up to 195 miles per hour.

Fiedler first worked with Heart to Heart in 2005 when he went to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. He thought he would help people clean up their yards, but took over in a clinic for a week when the lead doctor had to return home to Florida.

He will run the tent clinic in the Philippines for the first week of December. He'll have to do without his normal exam rooms and equipment, but many medical and pharmaceutical companies have flown in tables, medications and other resources.

At this stage, Fiedler will be dealing more with untreated infections, stitching up cuts and providing antibiotics or inhalers. He said counselors also will be on hand to help survivors.

"It's really kind of an emotional roller coaster and your heart just goes out to them," he said.

The Fiedlers won't be paid for their work. They must cover all costs of the trip and bring their own food, sleeping bags and sleeping pad. They had expected to stay in a tent, but may be set up in a hotel lobby.

Other physicians who don't volunteer "don't know what they're missing, because there are rewards far beyond money when you go and do something like this. It's what life is all about," Albert Fiedler said.

He will go without a paycheck for 1 1/2 weeks because he didn't have enough vacation, but said Kadlec CEO Rand Wortman cleared him to be absent from the clinic.

Fiedler said he's grateful for the opportunity.

"Anything you do, God repays you more than you give him," he said. "He just is that way. He's proved it many, many times. We come back feeling blessed."

Parishioners at the Nazarene Church gave at least $1,000 to Caroline Fiedler for relief efforts.

Caroline Fiedler -- who was an elementary teacher before going back to school for nursing -- also will take hand puppets and some twisting balloons "just to try to give kids a little happiness" and help them forget the storm and its devastating aftermath for a few minutes, she said.

"We feel very fortunate that we can go together, and have this memory together," she said of the trip with her husband.

In January, she will go without him as she leads an evangelism team of 17 people to Malawi in southeast Africa.

Caroline Fiedler will post pictures and blog about the Philippines trip on her Facebook page when she gets an Internet connection, she said. People who are interested in updates can search "Carrie Fiedler" on the site and make a friend request.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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