Washington University Orthopedics partners with World Pediatric Project and Touching Hands Project to provide orthopedic care in St. Vincent

Above: Dr. Gordon examines a young patient

Washington University Orthopedics, World Pediatric Project (WPP) and Touching Hands Project recently teamed up on the island of St. Vincent’s to provide children increased access to orthopedic care. Eric Gordon, MD, a Washington University orthopedic surgeon who specializes in pediatric lower extremity deformities has been participating in mission trips to St. Vincent’s for several years now. In 2011, Dr. Gordon made the inaugural trip to St. Vincent’s representing Washington University Orthopedics and in collaboration with The World Pediatric Project.

Kim Cordia, BSN, RN, ONC has accompanied Dr. Gordon on several of these surgical mission trips over the years.  Kim describes all the intricate parts of the mission, “Everything we use, we bring, from the instruments, medications to bandages. We are giving children the opportunity they would not have because they don’t have specialists. There is such a great need that we are going every six months to keep up with the number of kids needing orthopedic care. There is a teaching element, because we all learn from each other. Nurses, doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists learn from each other as well as share knowledge with those in St. Vincent and surrounding Caribbean islands. The days are long but rewarding because of the gratification of knowing you did something even if you played a small part that would forever change someone’s life.” 

Above: Dr. Goldfarb examines a young patient

In 2016, World Pediatric Project teamed up with the American Society for Surgery of the Hand’s Touching Hands Project to help kids with upper extremity conditions. Charles Goldfarb, MD, is the Chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Orthopedic Surgery and Co-Chief of the Hand and Microsurgery Service. Dr. Goldfarb accompanied the team this year to St. Vincent and says, “I have wanted to join a Mission Trip for years and this opportunity was perfect. WPP is a wonderful organization with experience and an outstanding track record. I knew that logistically we would be set up for success. The opportunity for me is a chance to offer care to those that may not have access and to do so in a local environment. The gratitude experienced and the relationships built during these trips are incredible in a way that is simply different than our day to day existence at home.” 

Above: residents and surgeons of the two teams led by Dr. Gordon and Dr. Goldfarb

During this trip the team evaluated 135 patient between two teams led by Dr. Gordon and Dr. Goldfarb and 40 surgeries were performed in four days. The group was active in teaching multiple different groups — including medical students, residents, and visiting orthopedic surgeons from the surrounding islands — in the clinic, in the operating room, and with various lectures. Finally, a hand fellow and a pediatric orthopedic fellow from Washington University joined the team for the trip. The fellows are integral to the care and education provided on the trip, but the team’s other goal in engaging the fellows is allow them to see the impact that they can have on a mission trip and hopefully instill in them the desire to participate in such trips long after their fellowship training is complete.

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