Cover Stories

Help & Support for Kids: World Pediatric Project

Every year, World Pediatric Project sends teams of medical professionals to South America and the Caribbean to deliver much-needed pediatric surgical care to more than 2,000 children. The most complex cases are brought to St. Louis and other cities for life-saving surgeries. It’s not difficult to imagine the colossal impact a global pandemic would have on such an international operation, but this year, the nonprofit didn’t let COVID-19 disrupt its mission. Thanks to partnerships abroad and at home, it was able to remain dedicated to healing critically ill children and building health care capacity throughout the world.

World Pediatric Project serves children in 12 countries. Executive director Linda Wulf says the pandemic temporarily has forced the nonprofit to stop sending medical teams abroad, but it is still working to ensure families have access to the necessary care. The nonprofit is using telehealth technology to connect local physicians with experts in the United States and to provide vital neonatal training. “We’ve found ways to help our children receive care in their own countries,” she says. The organization also is working with other nations in the Caribbean to coordinate and fund surgical care so patients don’t have to travel as far.

While the number of patients has been reduced this year, the nonprofit has continued to bring children to St. Louis for life-changing surgeries. This has been possible thanks to community partners, such as Ronald McDonald House and Kirkwood Baptist Church, which both opened their facilities to help house families. “Without assistance with housing, it would have been almost impossible to find safe places for the children and their guardians to stay, and we wouldn’t be able to continue our programming,” Wulf says. “Ronald McDonald House was going to close in the spring, but it stayed open to help care for our kids. It also provided a van so our employees didn’t have to worry about having people in their personal vehicles.”

To help relieve World Pediatric Project’s financial burden, a local company, Color Art, has offered to share its facilities. “We have moved our entire operation into its collaborative workspace,” Wulf explains. “It was a big risk for a for-profit company to bring in a nonprofit, but everyone has treated us as their own. With the expense reduction, we’ve been able to use the money to help more children.” She estimates that over six years, the partnership with Color Art will save the nonprofit more than $400,000 in rent.

Along with support from local partners, the generosity of donors has kept World Pediatric Project’s operations running smoothly. This fall, it held a golf tournament, which raised more than $450,000. Wulf says the nonprofit is especially thankful for the support since it had to postpone its largest annual fundraiser, Treasures of Paradise. The event usually is held in January, but for 2021, it has been pushed back to April 23. “We hope that everyone will be able to join us in the spring,” she says. “We’re so grateful to the community for placing its trust in us during these unprecedented times.”

World Pediatric Project heals critically ill children and builds health care capacity throughout the world. Pictured on the cover: World Pediatric Project executive director Linda Wulf and Color Art partner Jeff Bauer open the doors of Ronald McDonald House for World Pediatric Project kids from Central America. For more information, call 314.317.8809 or visit worldpediatricproject.org.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

Pictured at top: World Pediatric Project brings children to St. Louis for life-changing care.
Photo courtesy of World Pediatric Project 

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