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Orthopedic Doctors Give Free Care To Homeless

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Dr. Cooper (center) and his staff examine feet at a homeless shelter in Rockville, Md. The doctors saw more than 200 people.
David Schultz
Dr. Cooper (center) and his staff examine feet at a homeless shelter in Rockville, Md. The doctors saw more than 200 people.

By David Schultz

Dr. Michael Holzman is examining feet, one after another after another.

"Tell you what," he says to a paitent. "Let's get some powder on there."

Holzman and two other doctors from Georgetown University Hospital set up a makeshift foot-clinic at a homeless shelter in Rockville, Md. There are dozens of men lined up outside, waiting for a five minute examination and a brand new pair of shoes.

One of them is Reginald Exum. Exum's feet are important to him, and he wants to make sure they're OK.

"A person's feet are like their only mobility in some instances," he says. "And if you're not mobile, based on the fact that you're doing daily walking and you have a terrible pair of shoes, it can create lots and lots and lots of problems, just like a car. If you've got bad tires, the car isn't going to run very well."

It turns out Exum's fine, just a moderate case of athlete's foot. He leaves with a new pair of leather boots.

But many of the men here are at risk for severe foot problems.

Dr. Paul Cooper, the head of Georgetown's foot and ankle center, says a third of the men he treated were diabetic.

"And yet none of them seem to have any understanding or education as to the risks that that may incur on their foot," he says.

Cooper and his team treated more than 200 men at the clinic, the first of its kind in the D.C. region.

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