Occupation: RN, chair of skin wound management team
From: Owen Sound
Years of Service to GBHS: 35
Hobbies/Interests: Lacrosse, the outdoors

Prevention is worth a pound of cure. Just ask Maria Jones, registered nurse and wound care specialist who’s overseeing a pilot program at GBHS for diabetic patients that reduces the risk of amputations. Referred to as Foot Offloading, the program is aimed at healing diabetic foot ulcers, which can be painful and hard to heal.

Maria knows how true that is from personal experience. Her father, a diabetic, had foot ulcers that ultimately led to an amputation 30 years ago.

“When I started working in the surgery department, I realized how many wounds we actually see, and I’ve been interested in wound care ever since. This new pilot program is really helpful.”

The pilot is funded by the Local Health Integration Network, and patients use a special cast that takes the weight bearing pressure off the foot while it heals. A lot of diabetics can’t feel the bottom of their feet, Maria said, “so they just keep hitting the spot over and over again. The cast helps prevent that repetitive damage.”

The patients come in every week for eight to 10 weeks and the orthopedic techs give them a new cast. It takes a team of health professionals to care and check on their progress, including follow-up on blood sugar levels and diet.

Maria said the casts “have always been the gold standard” for preventing foot ulcers, and can cost about $1,000 per patient over the ten weeks of use (paid by the pilot project).

“It’s huge, because if you don’t heal the ulcers, you risk amputation, and this is one way to lower the amputation rates for patients in Grey Bruce.”

“I love seeing people’s wounds heal. There’s nothing better, and I’ll tell them I hope I never see you again, except maybe at the mall or downtown. Don’t come back, keep that wound healed.”