Limb Preservation Team Provides Multidisciplinary Treatment for Diabetes Patients

October 27, 2015 | Kristi Spurgeon

At Adventist Medical Center in Portland, Ore., modern medical technology paired with a whole-person approach to health is saving patients' toes, feet, legs and hands — every day.

Adventist Health’s limb preservation team offers the only comprehensive program of its kind in the Portland metro area that is equipped to save someone’s foot or hand due to diabetes. Among the hundreds of patients who have already benefited from the team’s expertise, 82 percent have diabetes.

The limb preservation team, part of the hospital’s wound healing and hyperbaric medicine program, addresses the entire patient and his or her lifestyle before beginning treatment or recommending amputation. Each patient has a team of experts working to save the limb, including specialists in vascular, orthopedics, diabetes, wound care and primary care, who work together to save people’s toes, feet and legs. It’s a unique multidisciplinary approach that starts with dietary and lifestyle changes, diabetes education, advanced screening tools, and hyperbaric treatments that improve blood circulation to deteriorating limbs.

Just as Jesus reached out to save life and limb time and time again, the limb preservation team is touching lives. Each day they see patients such as Dennis Prezeau, whose foot was at tremendous risk of amputation. “I didn’t realize how serious it was,” says Prezeau. At first, he thought the pain was related to arthritis in his toe, but when he ended up in the emergency room with an infection that went all the way to his bone, he learned how very tenuous his situation was.

Care for patients at Adventist Health goes beyond what is traditionally provided in the hospital or clinic. In Prezeau's case, he fought against being admitted to the hospital and against any limb-saving treatments until the team realized he was desperately worried about his dog at home. “One of our team visited Dennis’ house every day to feed and play with his dog,” says Shannon Lang, manager of the wound healing and hyperbaric medicine clinic.

Prezeau was resistant to receiving care in a skilled nursing facility as his leg was recovering, so a team of Adventist Health employees arranged necessary renovations to his home that allowed him — and his dog — to stay at home safely.

“The limb preservation team didn’t just save my leg; they’ve also improved my life by teaching me more about how to keep my blood sugar levels under control and how to exercise within the limits of my conditions,” says Prezeau. “I can’t stress enough how good this team is at their job. Without them, I’d be walking around on a wooden leg or stuck in a wheelchair, and instead I’m able to care for myself and for my dog.”