Podiatrist Tammy Gracen says two of her patients ended up having amputations because they were not able to afford the extra cost for preventative orthopedic care. CBC
A Vancouver podiatrist says provincial healthcare cuts are to blame for two amputations her patients have undergone over the past year and she is calling on the government to restore funding.
Dr. Tammy Gracen says when the province stopped funding orthopedic shoes and orthotics for cases where amputation wasn't deemed a risk in March of 2010, she had to switch from helping patients in pain, to leaving them in pain because they can't afford proper treatment.
Since then she has had one patient lose a toe, another had three amputations, with the last, below the knee, Gracen said on Friday morning at her Vancouver office.
She believes the amputations would have been preventable if treated earlier with preventative measures, but by the time orthopedic shoes were approved it was too late.
“I can't help. I just can't help, and that hurts,” she said.
In addition Gracen says she's had a number of cases where patients are in pain because of poor circulation or other foot problems, but can't afford proper treatment.
“It's tough to look them in the eye. It makes me sick. Not just the amputations, but the ones in pain, and the children particularly,” she said.
“Sometimes I do it out of pocket myself, because I can't stand it. It's too hard to look at.”
Gracen wants a return to coverage for early intervention, and pain relief.
B.C. NDP Health Critic Mike Farnworth says it's costing taxpayers more in the long run.
“An idiotic cut, to save a few dollars — the result is tragedies for people who are facing an amputation,” said Farnworth.
The Health Ministry has not yet been reached for comment.