For many kids in developing countries, access to quality healthcare is challenging enough when they are sick or injured. But it’s especially hard when it comes to regular doctor visits. Those annual checkups that we take for granted here at home are a downright luxury in many countries around the world.
That reality is what drove Jeff and Kimball Mapp to found Extra Mile Pediatrics. The Richmond natives, themselves both pediatricians, set out to break down barriers to care, making sure that the children they serve in their Central American communities are receiving continual care and not one-and-done patients.
We caught up with Rebecca Moss, who serves on the board as a director, to learn more about what makes Extra Mile Pediatrics extra special (see what I did there?).
What is Extra Mile Pediatrics’ core mission?
Extra Mile Pediatrics is a medical mission organization committed to providing repeated, quality care for children in areas where significant barriers to care exist. The mission is to provide follow-up pediatric care in areas of need. Our core focus at this point is Central America.
We want to go deep, not wide. That is unique actually for a lot of these medical missions, particularly international missions, because many times they go to one, they do something and then leave, and what Extra Mile wants to do is to build relationships in these communities and strengthen them.
What problem or issue does Extra Mile Pediatrics address in the community?
We’re going into communities that essentially have no medical access. They’re very remote communities, with tiny little clinics.
Most often, patients have to go to San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, to get any real medical care. They’ll do vaccination drives and things like that. But in terms of general care, it’s tough to get.
What do you think most people don’t realize or understand?
If you’ve grown up in this country, I think there’s no way to even begin to understand the difference. Not just in the U.S, but in any westernized nation where we take for granted our health care.
With our care, it starts with registration and data collection. For example, here in the states, we’re compiling data for height and weight over time to potentially work with that data. That doesn’t exist in the communities we serve. We’re working on getting grants to help us collect data in some of these clinics to help us connect dots over time.
What kind of work do volunteers do?
A group of providers, nurses, and non-medical volunteers with widely varying backgrounds compose each team to Central America. They set up and operate mobile clinics each day in convenient areas within communities and see patients from birth through teenagers.
If $100,000 fell from the sky tomorrow, how would Extra Mile Pediatrics want to spend it?
What the founders are attempting to do is to expand our impact on the health infrastructure of these communities to further our impact both during and between our trips. Things like improving access to clean water, healthy food choices and health education.