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A step ahead

Podiatry Week runs from 9-15 October 2023.

Podiatrists are well known for relieving people of pesky ingrown nails, calluses and cracked heels, or providing freedom from pain by fitting the right orthotics.

During Podiatry Week, with the theme of ‘more than you think’ the Podiatry team at Northeast Health Wangaratta is sharing some of their work around what they call ‘high-risk  feet’.

Two females from the NHW podiatry team assessing a foot.
Kate Hillier and Georgina Waite from the Northeast Health Podiatry team.

NHW has been operating a high-risk foot clinic one day a week out of its Community Care Centre for several years, providing comprehensive diabetes and neurovascular foot assessments, management of complex foot wounds and helping prevent wound recurrence. Led by the Podiatry team, the clinic assisted over 100 clients in the last financial year and incorporates a multi-disciplinary approach with interaction including a diabetes educator, dietician, nurse support and medical support.

The service has recently expanded to the acute setting in which NHW Podiatrist Georgina Waite assists with specialised lower limb assessments, timely and appropriate management plans, referrals for outpatient reviews to assist diagnoses and reduce patient length of stay.

“Our inpatient services are firmly focused on acute care, such as pre-surgical vascular assessments and wound care plans,” Georgina said.

“If a patient is at risk of amputation, we can help assess their capacity to heal or highlight potential complications that need to be considered, helping inform decision making.

“We’re also undertaking some foot assessments in the renal dialysis unit, because the nature of renal disease is similar to diabetes when it comes to the increased risk of foot ulceration and amputation.

“The benefit of this service is now we are part of the care plan sooner, particularly with wound care and providing early referrals for post-operative services or discharge.”

Kate Hillier said the continuity of care was having a positive impact on service delivery.

“We have a better line of sight to identify patients with high-risk feet and hope that being part of their care at the earliest opportunity will reduce the likelihood of emergency readmission or further complications.

“For many patients, that can mean improved quality of life, reducing the burden of appointments associated with a chronic wound, less pain and discomfort and literally being back on their feet more quickly.

“For us, it’s feeling confident that we can provide continuity of care that improves the health outcomes and experience for members of our community.”