As a pediatric neurologist with St. Francis Health, Aristoteles Pena-Miches, MD, has served the children of Northeast Louisiana for more than two decades. Providing specialized evaluation and treatment of neurological disorders, Dr. Pena-Miches educates and guides families about the diagnosis and treatment options available.
“We strive to fulfill this responsibility with compassion and clear understanding of the distress families with children suffering from neurological disorders go through,” Dr. Pena-Miches says.
Celebrating Family Culture
Originally from Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Pena-Miches and his family have been in the United States since 1983.
The family keeps its culture alive by teaching their children and grandchildren about the Dominican Republic and speaking Spanish, their native language. Dr. Pena-Miches’ children learned to speak and write Spanish at an early age.
Dr. Pena-Miches was inspired to pursue his career in medicine because of his family.
“My maternal uncle was a medical doctor, and from an early age I witnessed his dedication to patients and love for the profession,” Dr. Pena-Miches says. “I used to look at his books and listened attentively to his anecdotes regarding diagnosis, treatments and all the medical problems that he and the rest of his colleagues were able to solve. But most influential to me in becoming a doctor were the times he described how he helped patients and eased their suffering.”
Dr. Pena-Miches says his favorite family tradition is celebrating Christmas on December 24. “That night is our main family dinner, the opening of gifts, dancing and listening to our popular Dominican music,” he says. “We have continued that tradition with our children.”
Keeping Connections Through Food
Food is a way to connect, both to our own culture and to experience others’ cultures. Sancocho is Dr. Pena-Miches’ favorite cultural dish.
“This ‘soup’ is made with three different types of meat: chicken, beef, and pork, mixed with many vegetables including corn, plantains, potatoes and Yuca (vegetable root) and special seasoning,” he says. “It is served with white rice, avocado and, at times, with fried plantains.”
A Heart for Service
Despite difficulties physicians face and the hours and weekends he dedicates to his work, Dr. Pena-Miches loves his profession.
“The difficulties are lessened by the smile of a child, the happiness we can bring to the families of our patients, and even when illness takes a turn for the worse and effective treatment is not available, we are still able to console, support and minimize suffering and bring hope by always being available,” he says. “My greatest satisfaction is when a young child asks his or her mother when is the next time they are coming to see me! And when they finally arrive at the office, they immediately hug me! These moments make it all worthwhile!”
Our DEI Commitment
Our ministry’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion supports culturally competent care education for our team members all year long, including during Hispanic Heritage Month each September 15 to October 15.