Here at Pediatric Associates of Richmond, not only are we dedicated to nurturing the health of our clients, but our team members as well. This past month, we sat down with our very own Dr. Jeff Mapp, to learn how his passion for pediatrics has shaped his life. Dr. Mapp’s passion for pediatrics transcends borders. When not serving here in the Richmond area, Jeff takes his skills to underserved communities in Central America. No matter what part of the world he is in, his approach to patients remains the same; he wants to create lasting longitudinal relationships with patients and their families.
To understand Dr. Mapp’s passion and dedication for pediatric care, you have to go back to the beginning. When he was a freshman in college, his younger brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was Dr. John Ward, a Pediatric Neurosurgeon at VCU, who impressed upon Dr. Mapp that when you treat a child, you are really treating an entire family. With this realization and inspiration, Jeff set his sights on a career in medicine… and specifically in Pediatrics. Dr. Ward later invited Jeff to accompany a group of physicians to Guatemala on a medical mission trip. Ultimately, Dr. Mapp went along with Dr. Ward to Guatemala in the summers before his Junior and Senior years in college. Jeff refers to those trips as a pivotal experience that would forever influence the way he views medicine.
Many degrees and two children later, Mapp felt the need to get back to serving in Central America. One specific return trip with One World Health to Nicaragua proved to be life-changing. Dr. Mapp was noticing some potential gaps in care and opportunities for improvement on the short-term medical mission model. These opportunities eventually led him to develop Extra Mile Pediatrics.
Extra Mile Pediatrics launched in 2018 with the mission of “providing repeated, quality care for children in areas where significant barriers to basic healthcare exist.” Their first mission trip was to the area of El Sunzal in El Salvador where they ran clinics in four different communities in the region. Since that time, Extra Mile has continued to send medical teams at least every 6 months. By the time the pandemic hit, Extra Mile had returned to these communities several times, and were excited to see that their model really worked. They were able to see many of the same patients, trip after trip, allowing them to focus on foundational health issues for children like growth, nutrition, development, and preventive care. All things that really can’t be effectively accomplished in a single visit… and all things that make Extra Mile Pediatrics’ approach unique. More than anything the relationship between children and families and their health care provider requires trust, and Dr. Mapp and his team feel that can only be earned through time, commitment, energy, and love. By just being there and having that relationship with their patients, the teams are also able to uncover barriers their patients face that make a healthy lifestyle difficult. Once these barriers are identified, Extra Mile Pediatrics can partner with other nonprofits to fill in the gaps, creating exponential impact for these communities.
The team is currently preparing for their next trip to the coastal communities of Escuintla in Guatemala in July. This is the first trip back since the COVID19 pandemic began, and as you can expect, the team is eager but cautious. With the success of the vaccine rollout in the states and the current state of the pandemic, Dr. Mapp feels that Extra Mile Pediatrics can capitalize on this time and get back to serving their patients without taking as big of a risk of exposing vulnerable patient populations.
To learn more about Extra Mile Pediatrics, check out this video and follow their work on their website, on Instagram, or on Facebook. Who knows, you may even see Dr. Mapp snag some of the other providers at Pediatric Associates for a trip sometime soon!