The WPP is a wonderful organization that I have worked with for more than 15 years. Based on Richmond, Virginia and Saint Louis, Missouri, it is focused on the global health of kids in many areas including orthopedic surgery. When I first became affiliated, kids with major orthopedic issues came to St Louis for care; now the “mission trips” are more impactful for the number of kids we are able to treat.
The WPP provides care for kids in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean and Central America. When possible, care is provided locally and when more challenging care is required, the WPP supports kids coming to the US for care including St Louis and Richmond but many other cities/ hospitals as well.
COVID-19 has affected the operations of the WPP in many ways- it has made both traveling for the providers- the “mission trips” more difficult and has also made it more challenging to bring kids to the US for care. Thankfully, operations are getting back to normal. Eric Gordon, pediatric orthopedic surgeon, and I led a team to Barbados on a quick, clinic- only visit a few weeks back. The goal was to see as many kids as possible, arrange orthotic/ prosthetic care and therapy and also identify kids for surgery. We saw about 100 kids, arranged therapy and care, and scheduled surgeries.
It is not easy to explain why these trips are so impactful for me/ for our teams. While the conditions may be somewhat different, many are similar to the issues we treat here in the USA. And yet, the satisfaction/ rejuvenation is real. The reasons are certainly multifactorial- the team camaraderie with a common goal, the patient interactions which are simply different than everyday, the notion of helping kids who otherwise may not have access to care, and so- on.
I look forward to providing definitive care for those I saw needing surgery- next trip!