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A newsletter from Ankle & Foot Care Centers.

Fourth Quarter 2018 Edition:

Ankle & Foot Care Centers Launches Annual Shoe & Sock Drive

Ankle & Foot Care Centers today announced its 21st annual holiday shoe and sock drive with the goal of delivering more than 500 pairs of shoes and hundreds of pairs of socks to local residents through the Salvation Army. Read more here.

Doctors and staff from Ankle & Foot Care Centers are hoping to collect hundreds of pairs of shoes and socks for their 21st annual holiday shoe drive. Pictured from left are Dr. Mark Smesko, Sarah Jane Smith and Tara Wiley at our East Liverpool office.

Copyright © December 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Ankle & Foot Care Centers Donates $19,700 to Diabetes Partnership of the Mahoning Valley

Diabetes affects more than one million individuals in Ohio alone. This prevalent disease often leads to serious complications in the feet, which podiatric physicians at Ankle & Foot Care Centers treat regularly. As an effort to combat diabetes and support local diabetics and their caregivers, Ankle & Foot Care Centers hosts an annual golf benefit fundraiser and the proceeds go toward the Diabetes Partnership of the Mahoning Valley. This year's event raised $19,707 for the organization. Read more here.

Pictured are Ed Hassay, president and founder of the Diabetes Partnership of the Mahoning Valley, Dr. Michelle Anania, podiatric physician at Ankle & Foot Care Centers, and Marg Hassay, co-founder of the DPMV.

Copyright © December 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Bedridden for 5 Years, Youngstown Man Now Back on His Feet

Pictured are Lori and Kevin Vara

For Kevin Vara, it's the little things in life that he enjoys most now, such as going to the grocery store and to the movies with his son, or even taking a shower - things he could not do for the past five years.

The Youngstown resident had been bedridden for half a decade with a non-healing diabetic ulcer on his right foot, but as of this past summer, he is ulcer-free and on the road to recovery, thanks to the treatment he received from Dr. Christian Carbonell of Ankle & Foot Care Centers.

"After experiencing an infection, I had part of my foot amputated while living in Las Vegas, five years ago," said Kevin, now 58.

"I moved back home to Ohio and was undergoing various treatment methods from a physician in Canton, who I was traveling back and forth from Youngstown to see. It wasn't until this past year that I came across Dr. Carbonell and he healed my ulcer in seven short weeks."

Kevin learned of Dr. Carbonell through a severe foot injury his wife sustained last year. The couple's horse fell on her foot, prompting a trip to the Northside Medical Center emergency room, where staff referred her to Dr. Carbonell.

"After a year of her telling me to go see him, I finally caved on a snowy day in December of that same year, when I didn't want to make the trip to Canton," Kevin recalled. "Thank God I did, because now I'm back to doing things I could only do five years ago."

Kevin suffers from diabetic neuropathy, the loss of feeling in his lower extremities. He also has poor circulation and blood flow, which often prevent ulcers from healing.

After Dr. Carbonell had performed debridement, or the removal of dead skin from the wound, for several weeks, there were no signs of the ulcer shrinking in size, so he referred Kevin to a vascular specialist.

However, Kevin had already received angioplasty, a procedure to surgically repair or unblock a blood vessel, and the stents he had put in previously weren't helping. Vascular surgery was not the solution.

But Dr. Carbonell didn't give up.

"When one thing didn't work, he tried something else," said Kevin. "I went through extended series of hyperbaric treatments and there were no signs of healing. Then, he put me in a walking boot and that didn't work either.

"Then came the solution. He put me in a total contact cast and we saw the open wound shrink from the size of a 50-cent piece to the size of a quarter within one week. He put me in the cast a second time and, after 10 days, it went from a quarter to the size of a dime. Then, from a dime to the size of a grain of rice."

The total contact cast is specially designed to take weight off of the foot, relieving pressure on the wound.

Dr. Carbonell instructed Kevin to wear his diabetic shoes after removing the third contact cast.

"Three days later after having the final cast off, I went in to see him and he removed the callous and didn't even need to put a bandaid on," Kevin said. "It had completely healed. That cast was a miracle."

Although the ulcer was gone, Kevin's physical strength had been depleted from several years of inactivity.

"I have lost 75 percent of my body's strength after being bedridden for five years," said Kevin. "So it's going to be a long road to recovery, but because of Dr. Carbonell, that road is possible.

"I wasn't able to get my foot wet before. Heck, now I can dance in the rain if I really want to. I can also do aquatic therapy to regain that strength in my leg - something I couldn't have imagined doing before.

"I can't say enough how thankful I am for Dr. Carbonell and his staff, who were all very helpful and truly good people. And I'm also grateful for my wife, Lori, who went through all of this with me."

Copyright © December 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Dr. Chiaro Achieves Work-Life Balance With Busy Schedule

Pictured are Dr. John Chiaro, his wife, Gina, son, Tony, and daughter, Marissa, during a recent weekend trip to Pittsburgh.

Whether he's visiting patients in nursing homes, treating individuals at the office or attending sporting events to keep an eye on athletes, Dr. John Chiaro keeps a busy schedule as a podiatric physician at Ankle & Foot Care Centers, but also spends a great deal of his time with his wife and two children. "I love what I do and my work is very important to me, but my family will always come first," said Dr. Chiaro.

He recently had the opportunity to mix family and work by attending the American Podiatric Medical Association's national seminar in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Gina, daughter, Marissa, and son, Tony.

"It was a great experience to attend the four-day conference during the day and then get to spend the evenings with my family, exploring the many historical sites and museums," said Dr. Chiaro.

The Chiaro family takes weekend trips to Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Columbus. Whether they're visiting Little Italy and seeing a performance at Playhouse Square in Cleveland or attending a Steelers, Penguins or Pirates game in Pittsburgh, they enjoy their short getaways together.

"Both of my kids are at Youngstown State University, so we're able to take advantage of the time we can spend together," he said.

Dr. Chiaro did his undergraduate work at Youngstown State University and graduated with his Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland. He completed his surgical residency in 1994 and began private practice in Clarion, Pennsylvania. Dr. Chiaro returned to the Youngstown area in 2000 and joined Ankle and Foot Care Centers.

Dr. Chiaro specializes in wound care and focuses much of his practice on the prevention of foot problems.

"Preventing diabetic wounds and/or amputation is the most satisfying aspect of practicing podiatry," said Dr. Chiaro. "A large part of our practice involves treating these conditions, but our goal is to catch it before it develops or worsens."

He sees patients at the Poland and Alliance offices, as well as four different nursing homes in the area.

Dr. Chiaro finds working with the elderly very rewarding.

"I visited a woman who is 102 years old the other day and she talked my ear off," he said. "I love being able to help those who can't make it into the office."

He also enjoys working with children and athletes, keeping them active and on the field.

Dr. Chiaro appreciates the support from the other physicians in the group and the administration of Ankle & Foot Care Centers.

"Coming from a private practice, I can say that it's great to have the support of the other physicians in our group, to be able to rely on one another with referrals or second opinions, as well as have each other to cover for one another if something comes up," said Dr. Chiaro. "And we have an awesome administration. These are all areas I had to handle on my own when I was in private practice."

Copyright © December 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Assistant Embraces Heartwarming, Challenging Parts of Role With Nursing Home Patients

Pictured are Debbie (front, center), her husband, Rocky (back, center) and their children and grandchildren, who make up the "center of [her] universe."

Medical assistant Debbie Minetti has a knack for taking care of others and meeting new people daily. It could stem from her many years as a hairstylist, talking with clients and working with different people every day.

"I made an interesting career move from being a hairdresser my whole life to becoming a caregiver," Debbie recalled. "I began taking care of an older couple from their home and then after some time doing that, my niece was working at Ankle & Foot Care Centers and told me about a medical assistant job. I went in for an interview and was hired that day. Thirteen years later and here I am!"

Debbie is one of four medical assistants who travel with podiatric physicians to visit patients at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, helping with nail and wound care, as well as general foot care.

In addition to visiting patients, she works out of the Market Street office, located in Boardman, where she schedules patient appointments and handles the paperwork associated with insurance and billing.

"Every day is different," said Debbie. "Some days we may only see 15 patients, but on other days we could see as many as 90, based on the facility and our schedule. I'm a people person, so I love it.

"When you see these people every few months for years, you develop relationships and become very attached to some. And it's the little things that make their days - a smile, a hug or simply talking to them. They can be so appreciative and it's very heartwarming."

Although many days present challenges, including seeing individuals in declining health, Debbie says her co-workers make it a lot easier. A good sense of humor helps too, she says.

"Every doctor has a unique way of doing things, so once I learned that and got to know each one, I can honestly say I absolutely love working with every one of them," she said.

Debbie also enjoys working with the small team that makes up the practice's Outreach department -- the group that tends to patients who can't make it to the office.

"I consider myself very fortunate to be able to call each and every one of the five women in our department a good friend," said Debbie. "Whether it's the two women who work in the office and help to schedule home visits, or us four who are visiting nursing homes, we make up a good support group for one another, and for our patients that can't make it into our office."

Debbie travels with eight physicians to see patients at nursing homes across Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Stark, Summit, Portage and Ashland counties, as well as Mercer County in Pa. and areas in West Virginia.

When she's not working, she's spending time with her daughter and 8-year-old grandson, or visiting her two sons and other four grandchildren in Georgia and North Carolina. She enjoys reading mystery and fiction novels and shopping online.

Debbie and Rocky, her husband of 35 years, live in New Middletown.

Copyright © December 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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How to Recognize, Prevent and Treat Diabetic Ulcers with Dr. Brad Backoff

If you have diabetes, you're at risk for developing a diabetic wound. Dr. Bradley Backoff, a podiatric physician at Ankle & Foot Care Centers, says between 10 and 20 percent of diabetics experience a diabetic ulcer. In this video, he discusses what diabetic ulcers are, how they're formed, how to recognize them early on and how to prevent and treat them.

Copyright © December 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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From the Kitchen: Diabetic Friendly Cauliflower with Pancetta and Onions

From The Kitchen

(From the Kitchen recipes are provided by the Diabetes Partnership of the Mahoning Valley.)

Serve up an original side dish at your holiday gathering with this pancetta and onion-filled cauliflower dish. Sure to pair well with any entree, this non-starchy vegetable is a delicious and nutritious addition to your plate.
Serving size: 12
Diabetic Friendly: Yes


2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
3 oz pancetta (sliced)
1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
1 small cauliflower (cut into florets)
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste


Heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until it is crisp. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Add in the onions, and turn the heat to medium low. Saute the onions for about 8 minutes. Add in the cauliflower, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Add in the water, cover and raise the heat to medium. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Add the cauliflower to a serving bowl. Mix together the remaining olive oil and lemon juice, and add to the cauliflower, mixing well. Top with the crisp pancetta.
For more information, including nutritional information, see this link.

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