By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
UNDER the theme “New Hope For the Diabetic Foot”, The Foot and Ankle International team recently hosted its third annual conference geared towards solving painful and dangerous problem many Bahamian face.
“People in the Caribbean are being assaulted by diabetes. Our people are being overrun by diabetes, and if there is no good news, you cannot mount a defence. In the last 50 years there has been no major change, no major breakthrough in the treatment of the diabetic foot. Here in our little country we have been privileged to find the latest breakthrough,” said Dr Daniel Johnson, founder of Foot And Ankle International.
With two new initiatives, Project LEAP and Foot Care RX, Dr Johnson said the first represents the power of prevention.
“In medical school the abbreviation on the medical chart in the hospital is LEA: Persons scheduled for a lower extremity amputation. It can be viewed as something being taken away, so I said, let's add something to it. People are less frightened when you add something to it and I made the decision to add a ‘P’ and the ‘P’ represents prevention. So we started practicing what we now call the ‘Power of Prevention’. It’s not taking the chance that you may survive, it's trying to make sure you don't get into trouble. So what does that do? It improves people's outlook on life,” said Dr Johnson.
Meanwhile, Foot Care RX is an initiative that is set to launch various mini clinics which are intended to meet the demands of diabetic patients by providing affordable access to quality patient-centre care.
World Diabetes Day was observed last Saturday and Dr Johnson’s recent virtual conference highlighted topics and speakers that included: the Impact of COVID-19 on the Diabetic Foot by Dr Keva Thompson; Flow to the Toe by Dr Delton Farquharson; To Debride or Not to Debride by Dr Shanika Hill; Diabetic Foot Infections by Dr Monique Mitchell; Salon Pedicure Safety by Donnae Smith-Ross; Foot Care at Home by Christal Woodside; Exercises for Fit Feet by Dr Kitiboni Rolle-Adderley; Food for Healthy Feet by Shandera Smith, and Beating Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy and the Advantage of Minimal Invasive Surgery for Diabetic Foot by Dr Johnson himself.
“Our big announcement is that we have cracked the code on the power of prevention. We now know that 90 percent of amputations are preventable. We are calling attention to the fact that the health of Caribbean people are being assaulted by diabetes and high blood pressure. New hope means we have taken a specific focus to something that is such a complication as diabetes such as amputation. Amputation of a lower limb is a life-changing, often life-ending experience,” he said.
“In the 21st century, in small nations, we have to be able to get these problems under control. The formula that we use is three easy steps: awareness, access, and action.”
He said with the innovation of the Foot Care RX mini clinics, Foot And Ankle International have now taken the experience and the expertise and packaged it in a safe, affordable, accessible, fast formula where anybody at any time can call, can walk in and walk out with the innovation and assistance they need.
“What does that mean? It means that for the first time in a long time we have put advanced triage and treatment in one setting, one time and in one space. And the results have proven to be an enormous success. So we believe that people can look forward to feeling hopeful when they have a diabetic complication. We think people who should feel hopeful when someone says you have a diabetic foot ulcer, we think people should feel hopeful when someone says, ‘You have neuropathy’, because our conference will prove what new hope means: that these conditions are treatable, preventable and reversible,” said Dr Johnson.
Foot and Ankle International plans to also reach the Family Islands and the country’s Caribbean neighbours who are suffering the same fate in regards to diabetes. And they have to make sure that they follow up with people in need.
“So for people who cannot afford these advanced treatments, we are packaging programmes where people from the Diabetic Association, people from the International Diabetic Foundation may donate the staff time, the theatre time and the equipment necessary so that we can find the doctors who will do these procedures for free. And we began last week,” said Dr Johnson.
On Friday, November 13, Dr Johnson said they planned and scheduled five major procedures on a diabetic foot, free of charge. All of the equipment, the theatre time, and the nursing time will be paid for by donations from the Podiatric Medical Association.
Foot and Ankle International, located on Dean’s Lane atop Fort Charlotte, and at its newest location in the Grosvenor Medical Plaza, Shirley Street, is designed as a one-stop shop for common foot disorders. The team’s vision, according to Dr Johnson, is to solve the problem of lack of mobility within the human race. It’s core mission is to give world-class diagnostic treatment and training, with a goal therefore to make the Bahamas the number one destination for podiatric medical and surgical treatment in the world. This includes the most innovative research and development projects, hence its international scope.