Foot down

Senator, Irene Sandiford–Garner viewing a range of differently sytles of shoes fitted with orthitics as, Dr. Karen Padmore, Shannon Gibbons and Paula Walcott of the QEH look on.

Health officials in the public and private sectors are working together to help diabetics in Barbados.

This morning at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital representatives from the hospital and Orthotix Inc launched their joint partnership in the Diabetic Orthotics Programme.

This programme will see a state-of-the-art fabricating laboratory set up at the QEH so that diabetic patients there and at polyclinics can have access to custom-made foot orthotics which could be a fundamental step in the fight against diabetes as the shoes were said to produce a redistribution of pressure away from ulcers, calluses and painful pressure points on the load bearing areas of the foot.

Dr. Karen Padmore, who spoke on behalf of Orthotix. Inc., said under this programme the diabetic patients, whose feet were presently at risk, could go to the hospital and have them scanned and assessed to have custom-made foot orthotic devices fitted in order to reduce the likelihood of developing serious foot complications.

She added that this type of treatment was less invasive, less traumatic and less expensive than long term wound care.

Chief Executive Officer at the QEH, Dr. Dexter James, said all patients referred to the service, whether through public or private, would be required to pay a $40 fee for the assessment. For the public patients, he said they negotiated with Orthotix Inc. for prosthetics to be done at a subsidised cost of $100 per pair whereas patients referred from the private sector would pay $500 per pair. James further noted that non-nationals who wanted to use the programme would be charged at a “discretionary” rate.

The arrangement between the QEH and Orthotix Inc. states that once they reached the target of 5,000 pairs of orthotics, the equipment would then be turned over to the hospital, which would maintain it. Until such time, however, Orthotix Inc. will facilitate all software updates and provide a fully trained professional to assess all patients.


In the start-up stage, the QEH expects to see about 20 patients per week, starting first with high risk, then medium risk patients. This programme was said to be the first of its type in the Caribbean and officials said they hope it could be a model for other countries in Caricom.

Director of Medical Services, Dr. David Callender, said they were grateful to have the new option of shoes available since a number of their diabetic clients usually ended up on the surgical ward because of inappropriate footwear, along with other problems.

“This newer service is going to be a faster way of doing what we were doing before… This will make life a bit easier and a larger number of people will be seen in a shorter period of time. We have had the unfortunate label of being the amputee capital of the world, and I see this programme as an opportunity to reduce the amount of amputations we do on diabetic patients.

“From my understanding, the programme serves as a method of prevention. If we can intervene early to prevent complications occurring in the foot then the chances of progressing to amputations should be less.

“This programme is not to compete with private sector programmes, we are here to offer a service to the QEH public, the polyclinic public and if by chance somebody ants to refer their private patients here we will not turn them away,” he said. (KC)†††

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