Jan. 25, 2017
Walking is the chief mode of travel for Community Crossroads Center resident Nancy Connor and foot health is important to her.
“I’m on my feet most of the day and I walk for transportation,” Connor said.
To ensure healthy feet for individuals like Connor, students with the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University recently partnered with local podiatrist Dr. Amy Pitzer recently to host a Happy Feet Clinic at Community Crossroads Center (CCC).
“This is how and where we hope to reach our patients — this is service,” said second-year medical student John Hurley, one of the organizers of the clinic.
All types of foot ailments were treated during the event, but the primary goal was to identify complications associated with diabetes. If not treated properly, a cut on the bottom of the foot could lead to a difficult-to-treat infection or amputation for someone with diabetes. According to the Amputee Coalition, 250 adults lose a leg to diabetes every day, yet 70 percent of those amputations are preventable.
“It’s all about the prevention of ulcers, which lead to an infection in the bone, which unfortunately leads to a lot of amputations when it gets to that point,” said second-year medical student Natalie Broadway-Robertson. “So, we’re trying to catch it early, we’re trying to educate patients on how to care for their feet.”
“I’d hate to lose my feet because I have to stay on my feet. I have to take care of my wife and son,” said CCC resident Frizzell Powell. “To show us that y’all do care makes me want to take more care of myself.”
The 10 medical students who participated in the clinic washed the feet of 42 residents while staff from Pitzer’s practice clipped their toenails. Under the supervision of Pitzer and ECU family physician Dr. Ricky Watson, the students treated issues ranging from ingrown toenails to infections. Participants were offered new socks and gently used shoes collected by the students.
“Collaboration within our community is essential for the health and well-being of our citizens,” said Bob Williams, executive director of the CCC. “Whether that collaboration is health care, housing, emergency assistance, by working together and making resources such as the Happy Feet Clinic available to everyone, this will improve the health of folks in our community.”
The students who participated in the clinic are enrolled in Brody’s Service Learning Distinction Track. This program prepares, encourages and supports medical students who desire to work domestically and internationally with medically underserved, marginalized and rural populations.
“We really just wanted to come out in the community, put the books down and get to work and get to know the population that we’ll be serving one day,” said second-year medical student Jamie Hunter.
“I’ve never been to a foot doctor or foot clinic,” Connor said. “It felt great and I really appreciate getting the chance to get some care for my feet.”