Taking Care

Healing Together, Even When We're Apart

St. Lucia
4 Minute Read
For children awaiting care from World Pediatric Project’s volunteer pediatric specialty teams, COVID-19 has added delays and worries to already stressful situations. Travel restrictions and other shutdowns in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic were no match for a strong internet connection and the commitment of our medical volunteers and the families eager to receive care for their children.

This May, virtual speech pathology sessions helped connect WPP volunteer speech language pathologist Miriam Kerr in Wilmington, North Carolina with thirteen children in St. Lucia, closing a gap in both access to care in St. Lucia and of nearly 1,800 miles thanks to the power of Zoom and the internet.
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Playing with patients like Sarai helps Miriam evaluate their surgical needs. Sarai visited Meriam's Speech Therapy clinic in St. Lucia in 2018.
Miriam typically travels twice a year for World Pediatric Project to St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, once before and again after WPP’s annual craniofacial and plastic surgery teams. Speech therapists are an integral part of any cleft lip and palate program, assessing a patient’s speech and making recommendations for surgery and sometimes helping provide feeding therapy for some babies who have not had surgery yet. Post-surgery, speech therapy is vital in assisting some patients in working through speech problems with therapy or identifying any necessary secondary surgical intervention needed to improve speech production.

This initial virtual clinic helped Miriam check-in with children scheduled for care and provided the WPP team with a trial run to assess the benefits of telemedicine in low-resource settings. A solid evaluation could mean a more robust service delivery for patients in St. Lucia than our twice a year in-person visits – and applications in other WPP partner countries.

Telemedicine provides promising opportunities for delivering some care to children in low-resource countries. But not every country or community has the same access to the equipment or internet services necessary. That’s why World Pediatric Project is already working with partners on the ground in the countries we serve to help find that access so we can continue to reach children, so they don’t have to wait too much longer for life-changing care.
For Miriam Kerr and the thirteen families from St. Lucia, this virtual clinic was an exciting first step on the path to healing. For World Pediatric Project, it’s an amazing opportunity to expand our mission to connect children with critical care they’d otherwise not receive – closing the gap of distance and care to help heal a child and change the world.
 “Connecting with patients and families virtually over the past two weeks was both effective and rewarding,” said Miriam.
"The opportunity to evaluate, provide pre-surgery intervention information, and begin ongoing services with some patients and families was very productive. Parents everywhere want the best for their children, and this most unusual time has created even more anxiety surrounding those desires. Partnering with parents for the most positive outcomes in this virtual way is exciting both now and for the future!"

Miriam Kerr, WPP volunteer speech language pathologist