Preventing Diabetic Amputations Starts With Exam Gloves
By Kaitlyn Nuebel
COVID-19 has strained health systems all over the world, especially those in developing countries like the Dominican Republic. As hospitals navigate the increased demand for healthcare and medical supplies are used at a rapid rate, it is more difficult than ever to deliver care to vulnerable populations in need including diabetics.
About 10% of adults in the Dominican Republic suffer from diabetes, which, when unmanaged, results in severe and sometimes debilitating consequences. Over time, tingling and loss of sensation in the feet caused by diabetic neuropathy can make diabetics unaware of cuts and sores that may lead to infection. Diabetes also decreases blood flow to the foot, causing infections to heal more slowly. In some patients, untreated infections can lead to gangrene and require leg amputation, forever altering the course of their life.
The Dominican Republic’s prevalence of diabetes led the Fundación Hospital General El Buen Samaritano (HBS) to create the Diabetic Foot Care Center. Serving an average of 260 patients each month, the Diabetic Foot Care Center focuses solely on treating complications caused by diabetic neuropathy and efforts to reduce leg amputations. However, without a consistent and reliable stock of supplies, the unit cannot treat patients.
Brother’s Brother Foundation partnered with Cross Catholic Outreach (CCO) to deliver medical supplies to the Hospital, including blood glucose monitor systems and surgical supplies needed to debride and drain foot wounds. Priscilla Solano, the Diabetic Foot Care Center’s supervising nurse, told CCO that the donated supplies help HBS provide the best quality care to all the patients who come to the center and ensure they get checked for diabetic and vascular problems on time. BBF’s collaboration with CCO, in addition to strong oversight from HBS staff, has prevented diabetic foot wounds from progressing to a stage that requires amputation.
BBF’s shipment also provided medical supplies to three other medical facilities and, in total, reached the provinces of Monsenor Nouel, Santo Domingo, and la Romana. Many of the items received, like suction tubes and wound drain evacuator kits, are used for a specific treatment, yet it was boxes of exam gloves that proved most helpful to medical staff. The government requires medical professionals to wear exam gloves while treating patients but does little to provide resources to them. For hospital facilities like HB which see hundreds of patients each day, a shortage of exam gloves creates an imminent barrier to providing medical care to patients with basic needs, let alone those who need specialized or frequent care.
[The Diabetic Foot Care Center at Fundación Hospital General El Buen Samaritano in the Dominican Republic sees 260 diabetes each month with the goal of reducing the number of leg amputations caused by diabetic neuropathy.]
[Brother’s Brother Foundation, in partnership with Cross Catholic Outreach, shipped and distributed a container of medical supplies to four hospital facilities across three provinces in the Dominican Republic. When the shipment arrived, it alleviated the facilities’ struggles to provide care amidst supply chain shortages during the pandemic.]