As the city’s new ophthalmologist, H. Lee Peltan, M.D., 43, is originally from Michigan, who made a home in Ohio with his wife and four children before relocating to Cleveland.
Peltan Eye and Laser clinic is located at 425-B North Davis Ave. in Cleveland next to Domino’s Pizza.
“When I made the decision to leave Ohio, I was looking for a place where I might do the most good,” he said. “The Delta has one of the highest diabetes ratings in the nation. Bolivar County has one of the highest rates of diabetes and glaucoma when you combine the two.
“It’s very high in the nation in terms of counties with diabetes and it’s also high in counties that have glaucoma,” Peltan continued. “The thought is that there is undiagnosed glaucoma. Glaucoma is called the sneak thief of sight because you don’t feel it, it doesn’t hurt and it just sneaks up on you.
“Then by the time that you realize that you have a problem, there’s so much damage done until the person is in bad shape,” he said. “We have technology that can keep people seeing and preserve their vision and keep them from going blind. It’s great technology and this is a place where I can do a lot of good.”
Peltan said the Center for Disease Control helped bring him to Cleveland.
“There’ll be some exciting things coming out of the office in the future,” said Peltan. “I’m the only doctor in Cleveland that does any laser surgery for the eye. I have several lasers but I’ve only brought two of them with me so far.
“I am a specialist for surgical and medical treatment of the eye,” he said. “The technology that we have is advanced far beyond what was available 10, 12 and 15 years ago.”
Peltan said his decision to relocate his family to Cleveland was definitely the right one.
“I had been working in as many as five cities and seeing as many as 40 patients a day — sometimes operating on 20-40 patients in a day on different types of operations,” he said. “It was very hard on my family. My youngest is 8 and my oldest is 15. I have three boys and a baby girl. My boys are 15, 13 and 11 and the baby girl is 8.
“I love my wife very much but with me being gone so much it was very difficult,” said Peltan. “We wanted to be in a place where I could help a large number of people but still be home every night and this is the place.
“We looked around at some places that have a similar need as Cleveland, Miss., and they already have an ophthalmologist there doing all these things,” he said. “Here we have an ophthalmologist that has been taking really good care of patients for a long time — Dr. Stacy Davidson.
“He is a good man and he has been taking care of patients for a long time,” said Peltan. “I respect him a lot. He has cut back on his practice hours and he does not do the modern treatments.
“I talked to him before I came down,” he continued. “I told him about what I wanted to do and why I wanted to come. He said it would be great for our community if I came down and to come on down.
“In fact, the hospital was already looking for an ophthalmologist to invite because Dr. Davidson had asked them to out of his concern for the community,” said Peltan. “I was looking for a place like this and Dr. Davidson and the hospital were looking for someone like me to invite here.
“Now the problem that they had had for a while was that it’s difficult to convince people to come to the Delta,” he said. “That was one problem and if they could convince them to come, they weren’t in a stage of their career where they owned the equipment and the equipment is very expensive.”
Peltan said he owns his equipment and is looking forward to using it to help improve the health of the community.
“I’m very blessed that my wife understands me and she believes in the same things that I do,” said Peltan. “We’re Christian people and we believe in service.
“You really know how blessed you are to have a partner, like my wife, when you have a talk with your wife about what expensive trip you’re not taking and what gift you’re not buying and they’re O.K. with that,” he said. “Not everybody’s wife will say you know what I don’t need these pretty dresses go ahead and buy that $60,000 laser and go take care of patients.
“We do anticipate that there will be a good return on our investment as soon as we get busy down here,” said Peltan. “There is a big need and there’s every expectation that everything should go very well. We have some laser surgeries scheduled already that are going to be the first laser surgeries done in Cleveland ever.
“It’s an exciting time to be an ophthalmologist because we can help patients so much more,” he said. “We have technology and we have the benefits of all clinical insight and knowledge of learning the research that’s been done by doctors in our field over the years. We have the opportunity to add to that.
“For example, when I was in my fellowship in Cleveland, Ohio, I was able to work on projects that helped set the standards which is now a worldwide standard for handling the complications that sometimes occurred in laser surgery,” said Peltan. “In other words, laser surgery is a very safe surgery but it’s a very small percent of patients that end up having complications.
“It has been done for 12 years in other places in the world before it was done in the United States but when people had a problem, doctors were focusing on taking care of the 99.5 plus percent of patients that were having no problems and were focusing less on the problem,” he said. “In the United States, we try to take it to another level.
“When I did my fellowship, I had an opportunity to work on patients who other doctors had had in surgery and we got to do clinical trials that were repeated on a large scale and became the worldwide standards for taking care of the situations,” said Peltan. “These were my small contributions to the field but we wouldn’t even be able to do that if it wasn’t for the great contributions of physicians/scientists in the past.
“I will soon be getting an award from the AMA,” he said. “It’s there highest level of physician recognition award.”
Peltan said while he is proud of being given the recognition he is most proud of an award he received for having the best patient service. His patients ranked him number one when it came to patient care and hospitality.
“I was living in Ohio and I had a very successful business there but I had gotten to the point where I wanted to move to a place where I could do the most good,” he said. “That for me was the Delta.”