– Alicia Manteiga, Program Director, International Teams
For the last decade, World Pediatric Project’s Eastern Caribbean Orthopedic Program has helped thousands of children live more active, happier lives. Medical volunteer teams based out of St. Louis, Missouri, Richmond, VA and beyond have travelled annually to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to provide surgery to children from the region, many who would fly in for a consultation, surgery, and physical therapy. Given the increasing demand for orthopedic services, in recent years WPP added a second annual surgical team, plus specialized teams to treat pediatric upper extremity conditions of the hand, wrist, and shoulder.
In 2019, WPP began sending orthopedic diagnostic teams to St. Lucia, Grenada, and Barbados. This increased the efficiency of the EC Orthopedic Program, allowing more children to be evaluated with less financial burden on families to travel outside their home countries. For many patients living with conditions such as cerebral palsy, traveling from their home countries for care is very challenging.
In June 2021, the beautiful island nation of St. Lucia became home to our newest orthopedic surgery team which included the vital components of physical therapy and orthotics. Nearly 100 children were seen by this veteran team, led by Dr. Eric Gordon of Shriners Hospital/St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The team worked at the sparkling new Owen King European University Hospital in Castries. Team members worked closely with partner adult orthopedic surgeons from St. Lucia, Dr. Haden Alcindor and Dr. Horatius Jeffers.
Orthopedic surgeries and evaluations were complemented by crucial physical therapy services. 90 therapeutic evaluations were provided by team therapist, Donna Griffin, who worked hand-in-hand with St. Lucian therapist Elaine Clement.
Additionally, orthotist Lauren Alongi travelled with the team, another first for a WPP orthopedic surgical team. After surgeries were complete, Lauren casted molds for 10 children needing custom orthotitics. She also retrofitted 45
additional devices for non-surgical patients. These devices make it easier for children to walk and play, helping maintain gains in range of motion provided by surgery and therapy, eventually reducing visual differences in feet.
Every patient was pre-selected and referred by WPP staff and partners in St. Lucia; these same partners will provide follow-up consultations. In the words of longtime WPP volunteer Dr. John Stork, “On some of my other [mission] trips, I sometimes question how much the patient actually benefits from our surgery. Not the case here. These operations should really help these kids.”
It is through the deliberate and thoughtful process of collaboration, training, and partnership that World Pediatric Project will continue to ensure children in the Eastern Caribbean have access to life-changing pediatric orthopedic treatment.
Eastern Caribbean Program By The Numbers
July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021
children were served by WPP programs in the Eastern Caribbean.
total services were provided including surgeries, procedures, consultations and therapies.