Socks Off! campaign starts July 17 to reduce diabetes-related foot amputations in lower Hamilton
HAMILTON, ON – Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) together with the Greater Hamilton Health Network (GHHN) will be launching a Socks Off campaign on July 17, which aims to reduce the number of lower Hamilton residents who lose a foot to amputation due to diabetes and/or vascular disease. Ontario has among the highest rates in the world for diabetes-related foot amputations, with lower Hamilton having the highest rate locally.
“Through the campaign, we’re encouraging primary care providers to routinely check these patients’ bare feet for cuts, blisters, cracks, callouses or other sores that could lead to a serious ulcer and amputation,” says Dr. Tamar Packer, chief of family medicine for complex continuing and post–acute care at HHS, and the GHHN’s clinical advisor for the hospital. “By routinely checking patients’ feet we can help prevent up to 85 per cent of amputations and other complications related to poor circulation.”
Socks Off promotes the HHS/GHHN Ontario Health Team (OHT) Lower-Limb Preservation Integrated Care Program, which aims over time to reduce the amount of lower leg and foot amputations in the city through a more coordinated, integrated and patient-centred approach. This includes regular foot checks, early identification, timely assessment, best-practice treatment, ongoing monitoring, cardiovascular risk management, wound prevention strategies, and patient education. The program is receiving $600,000 in provincial funding over a year.
Hamilton Health Sciences vascular surgeon Dr. Fadi Elias sees diabetic patients in the later stages of infection, when surgery is a last resort to try and avoid amputation.
“I hear their stories and I review the treatment pathways that eventually brought them to my office,” says Dr. Elias. “Unfortunately, there are often many points in their health-care journey where the disease’s progression could have been slowed down by early intervention that didn’t happen. My goal, through this campaign, is to give primary care providers the tools they need to assess patients early and regularly to avoid needing vascular surgery or an amputation.”
A key priority of the Socks Off campaign is health equity and the need for all people to have a fair chance at achieving good health.
“The Socks Off campaign prioritizes health equity at its core,” says Dr. Brian McKenna, a family doctor and deputy lead physician at the Hamilton Family Health Team. “Through this campaign, we have an incredible opportunity to prevent horrific health outcomes for our most at-risk diabetic patients with poor circulation whom, statistically, living in lower Hamilton, are more likely to need an amputation than almost anywhere else in Ontario.”
The GHHN is the area’s Ontario Health Team (OHT), made up of health-care providers and organizations responsible for delivering coordinated patient care in Hamilton, Haldimand and parts of Niagara.
Aimed at family doctors and other health-care providers in lower Hamilton, the campaign encourages them to routinely check the bare feet of their patients with diabetes and vascular disease. Hence the campaign’s name, Socks Off.
For more information on this campaign, please visit https://www.hamiltonhealthsciences.ca/share/socks-off-campaign/.
For the Socks Off! Campaign video, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8dcbnTn0mQ.
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