Over the last month, Dr. Elizabeth Fleming, the newest member of the medical staff at Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital (CCMH), has been getting familiar with the Montevideo community, where she’ll be spending most of her professional time now.
For about two-thirds of the year, Dr. Fleming will be in Montevideo, providing full-spectrum family medical care in the clinic and hospital, as well as working in obstetrics. The other third of the year, she’ll be in Haiti, working with locals and Christian mission organizations to help provide medical care.
A medical career was appealing to Fleming for a variety of reasons. “I like helping people. I like being able to work with my hands, and I like having relationships with people and listening,” she said. “I also really enjoy things that are intellectual, and in the medical field, you’re always learning new skills as it evolves.”
Fleming attended Macalester College in St. Paul for pre-med, and went on to Des Moines University in Iowa for med school. She returned to St. Paul for her family medicine residency, where she worked with Dr. Christina Anderson, who now works at CCMH in family medicine.
Following her residency, Fleming fulfilled part of her medical school scholarship contract by working in an Arizona prison that functioned as an immigration detention center. “I thought that there might be less people in that situation if things were better at home,” Fleming said.
Fleming went on to travel to Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and eventually Haiti, where she helped to provide community health and build up infrastructure.
“I studied international relations in undergrad. I knew there was a need for community health work,” Fleming said.
She added that her international work is also a practice of her Christian faith. “I think we are here to make the world a better place,” Fleming said.
While on the ground in Haiti, Fleming enjoyed working with the locals, who she said had great ideas about what was needed to improve community health. Along with Spanish, French and Italian, Fleming also speaks Haitian Creole.
Montevideo came on Fleming’s radar while working in Haiti, where she met Dr. Anderson again. Fleming had been wanting to move back to, and work in Minnesota, and she read one of CCMH’s newsletters that had been sent to Anderson. She visited Montevideo in September, met the staff, and toured CCMH.
“The next day I said I wanted to come,” Fleming said.
Working at CCMH, and being able to return to her mission work for part of the year, allows Fleming to fulfill two important parts of her life.
Page 2 of 2 - “I consider Minnesota to be home. I’ve moved around a lot the last three years, and this lets me be home and be close to family and friends, and still be part of inspiring work,” Fleming said.
She has only been in Montevideo for a month, and Fleming has a long list of local attractions she wants to check out as she settles into the community and gets to know her patients.