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Albuquerque Organizations Team Up to Help Homeless Patients Maintain Healthy Feet

NMMRA, AHCH, St. George shoes & socks donation

Krista Dominguez-Salazar, PharmD (University of
New Mexico College of Pharmacy and AHCH),
Christina Montoya, RN (AHCH), Doug Erb, RN (AHCH), 
Galina Priloutskaya (St. George and NMMRA) and
Susan Yelton (NMMRA) present boots and socks for
homeless patients.

Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless (AHCH), the New Mexico Medical Review Association (NMMRA) and St. George Greek Orthodox Church’s Ladies Philoptochos Society recently teamed up with a local medical team to help homeless patients with diabetes. The group hopes to improve the health of their patients with diabetes through medication therapy management (MTM), disease state education, medical nutrition therapy and providing them with basic elements to promote healthy outcomes, in this case footwear. Both NMMRA and Health Care for the Homeless medical team are involved in helping patients to manage complicated disease states through their participation in HRSA’s national Patient Safety and Clinical Pharmacy Services Collaborative (PSPC).

A common problem resulting from diabetes is foot disease. On December 30, St. George’s Ladies Philoptochos Society donated 25 pairs of winter boots and NMMRA donated 50 pairs of diabetic socks for AHCH’s patients, many of whom are participating in the Diabetes Care Quality Improvement Initiative.

Access to properly fitted shoes can be an issue related to homelessness.  Wearing improperly fitted shoes increases the potential for blister and sore formation.  Nerve damage related to uncontrolled diabetes may result in loss of sensation and reduced blood flow, known as neuropathy.   Nerve damage can also affect control of foot muscles, leading to improper balance, which can increase risk of foot sores. The combination of these issues may result in increased complications associated with diabetes and difficulty of wounds healing properly once they develop or if they go undetected.   Sores and blisters increase risk of developing infections that can result in gangrene if proper treatment is not sought and provided.  Severe infection can be life threatening and in extreme circumstances could lead to amputation or even death.

It has been reported that foot ulcers affect one out of every 10 people with diabetes. Due to circumstances that often include more walking and poorly fitting footwear, the proportion of homeless people with diabetes who have such problems is even higher.

“Access to a pair of properly fitted shoes and having a change of clean socks makes a difference for a person whose primary mode of transportation is walking,” said Krista Dominguez-Salazar, PharmD, PhC, consultant pharmacist for AHCH. “The patients are grateful for the gift and I am grateful to be able to offer a mode of reducing risks of health related complications for our patients.”

Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless (AHCH) has provided comprehensive health and social services since 1985.  The vision of AHCH is to live in a world that is just and without homelessness.  The AHCH mission is to provide caring and comprehensive health and integrated supportive services, linking people experiencing homelessness to individual and collective solutions and be a leader in implementing innovative service models and a catalyst for solutions to homelessness and uphold a commitment to diversity and equity. 

In 1985, its first year, AHCH served 1,270 homeless clients through 1,912 encounters. With more comprehensive medical, dental, and behavioral health services available, AHCH now has over 33,000 encounters with more than 7,500 clients in each calendar year.  At AHCH, we go beyond addressing immediate medical needs by linking health care with other supportive services that can help people make positive change to end their homelessness.

New Mexico Medical Review Association (NMMRA) is the state’s premier and independent health care consulting organization dedicated to the facilitation of positive changes in the delivery of health care. As a not-for-profit health care organization that has served New Mexico since 1984, NMMRA offers a wide array of services to its clients. NMMRA is the federally contracted Medicare Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) for New Mexico, the state-contracted Medicaid External Quality Review Organization (EQRO), and holds state contracts to reduce health care-associated infections and assist critical access and rural hospitals. In addition, NMMRA is a founding partner of the New Mexico Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (NM HITREC) and leads such initiatives as the New Mexico Prescription Improvement Coalition (a group effort aimed at improving drug safety) and Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) in Albuquerque (one of 17 targeted communities in the country funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to improve health care quality, reduce racial and ethnic disparities, and provide models for national reform).

The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society, Inc., is the duly accredited women’s philanthropic society of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Part of its mission is to offer assistance to anyone who needs help. The literal translation of philoptochos from Greek is friend to those in need – “philo” means friend and “ptochos” means one who is in need.  The charitable work of the Society shall be performed with discretion, courtesy and kindness.