Podiatrists working alongside the Diabetes Clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital are making sure that patients get the best foot care, leading to fewer amputations.
Cape Town, South Africa (28 June 2023) – Dr Sean Pincus shared his experience of working with Professor Joel Dave to have podiatrists working alongside staff at the Diabetes Clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital. Sean shared his story with the Heroes of Groote Schuur, hoping to highlight the importance podiatry plays in caring for diabetes patients.
Heroes of Groote Schuur is a Facebook page dedicated to highlighting the amazing people who work or visit the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
The page highlights all the incredible work being done by the staff who keep everything running smoothly. Heroes featured on the page often have the most interesting jobs.
Dr Sean Pincus has been volunteering along with fellow podiatrists but soon, there will hopefully be a permanent position at the clinic. Seeing the numbers, this is very good news indeed!
“A few years ago Professor Joel Dave identified that the number of amputations related to diabetes at the hospital were too common. The research clearly showed that having a podiatrist involved would reduce the number of amputations. He contacted myself and a colleague, and based on a pilot study we did, identified the need for podiatry.
When the Diabetes Clinic opened in 2021, Prof Dave insisted that there was a foot room and a podiatry presence. In 2022, eight podiatrists including myself volunteered our services for a number of hours a week and started a podiatry unit. This year there are five of us who work pro bono.
I had a case this year of a patient who had what seemed like a callous in her foot, but was actually a thorn – which we removed. Because she’s diabetic she didn’t feel it. You or I would have known immediately but she had no clue. That kind of intervention saves feet in the world of the diabetic. Otherwise, by the time she’d realised something was wrong she probably would have had a massive infection, would have required lots of days in hospital and was likely to have lost her leg.
The research is clear: where you have a podiatrist in public medicine, your amputations drop by up to 65%. It’s for this reason that Prof Dave has pushed for a permanent podiatrist post in the unit, which is hopefully going to happen soon.
The work I do is not about treating the odd person here or there; it’s about getting my profession recognised so that podiatry is integrated into public medicine. The reality is Gauteng has 45 podiatrists in state health, and the Western Cape has none. That’s the disparity we have been fighting.
There are so many reasons why public medicine needs podiatry. It saves legs, it saves lives, it protects people’s mobility, it keeps them ambulant, it improves quality of life. Who are the people we look after at state hospitals? It’s the commuting public. Those are the people who walk miles every day.” – Sean Pincus, Podiatrist