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Foot in every door proves to be ‘limb saving’ for NQ patients

Published:  02 September 2022

The Townsville Hospital and Health Service (HHS) is the first health service in Queensland to be named a centre for excellence for high-risk foot care after receiving accreditation from the National Association of Diabetes Centres (NADC).
Advanced podiatrist and professional lead Trent Johnston said the team initially applied for core standard accreditation with a view to seeking further advice on how to become a centre of excellence in the future.

“Being named a centre for excellence is a very welcome surprise and makes us the first service in Queensland, first non-capital city service in Australia, and only the ninth service across Australia to receive this honour,” Mr Johnston said.

“As a team, we know we offer excellent care to our patients but this acknowledgement from the NADC really cements the level of service we are delivering right here at Townsville.”
Trent said the team's work focused primarily on high-risk clients who were at risk of amputation.

“Our job is to save a person's leg by having our ‘foot’ in the door of all areas of a patient’s treatment,” he said.

“We know that as allied health professionals if we work collaboratively with our colleagues in the vascular surgery, endocrinology, and research teams, we can do just this, and this has been evidenced by the reduction of amputation rates by 67 per cent since 2019.”

Mr Johnston said the innovative service model was also home to Queensland's only senior emergency podiatrist.

“Our senior emergency podiatrist role is embedded in Townsville University Hospital's emergency department (ED) and is able to assess patients on arrival and work collaboratively with the emergency team to link the patient to the services they require,” he said.

“We know this level of care is reducing the time people are having to spend in the ED and also in hospital, which is important for ensuring our patients are living healthy and happy lives.”
Mr Johnston said the health service's rich research culture also helped the team achieve excellence accreditation.

“The success of our service thrives on a multi-disciplinary approach and we owe much thanks to endocrinology staff specialist Professor Usman Malabu and vascular surgeons Professor Jon Golledge and Dr Victoria White who continue to help us drive innovation in our field,” he said.

Professor Malabu said the health service’s podiatry service formed a cornerstone of the weekly multi-disciplinary high-risk foot clinic he oversaw.

“I am well researched in the area of high-risk foot complications associated with diabetes, and it is reassuring to have such a highly motivated and energetic team to work with,” he said.
“In recent years the podiatry team has shown great initiative and drive to enhance and improve health care services for our community.

“The podiatry team also supportive and enthusiastic about new research including my work looking into the effects of extracorporeal shockwave and electromagnetic stimulation therapies for effective treatment and prevention of diabetic foot ulcers.

“The team has also undertaken clinical trials using an amniotic allograft (revita) dressing for which we were the first site in Queensland with trials ongoing.

“The team continues to motivate other specialties in the area of high-risk feet care and consistently encourages better patient outcomes.”

Chief executive Kieran Keyes said the high-risk foot service team was a credit to the health service and the North Queensland community.

“Three years ago, people in North Queensland had double the rates of foot-related admissions than the Queensland average and Townsville was in the top 10 for amputations in the country,” Mr Keyes said.

“Thanks to this small team, our health service is now recognised as a centre for excellence through its provision of rapid access to limb-saving treatment.

“The results of this work are as obvious as they are outstanding; I’m incredibly proud of our podiatry team and congratulate them on their recent accreditation by the NADC."

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