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Excellence in Patient Care Promotes Practice Growth

Posted on Jun 21, 2016
By Becky Wiese

Dr. Melissa Lockwood opened the doors of Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates (HFAA) almost eight years ago with the goal of providing comprehensive, compassionate podiatric care. She believed, and still believes, that the patient and doctor must work together as a team to obtain the most satisfying results.

To that end, Dr. Lockwood stresses the importance of having a good relationship with each patient that comes through the door. “Care for our patients includes time to see and talk with everyone in the office—patients get to really know all of our staff. We become like an extended family—listening and caring about the problems and health issues that bring them in.”

Sam Guillory, the office manager and human resource director (although, she says, “I’ve worked just about every role in the practice!”), adds, “What makes our office unique is the sense of family and personalized care. At HFAA, you’re not just a room number or a diagnosis. We take the time to listen to our patients, to build a deep connection, so we can work together to create the best treatment program to meet that individual patient’s needs and accommodate their lifestyle.”

The atmosphere of family extends to all members of the Heartland Foot and Ankle team. It is evident in the passion with which everyone speaks about the practice. “We care about you, not just your foot, not just your problem, but all of you. We care about how your foot is affecting your lifestyle, what your foot problem is keeping you from doing, and we work with you to achieve your goals, whether that’s running without pain on the Constitution Trail or getting through your shift at work. When you come into HFAA, you don’t just get a team of highly skilled professionals, but you get a family who cares about you on an individual level,” says Guillory.

This dedication to patient care has caused the practice to grow—so much so that they are excited to add two new doctors to the practice. “We provide comprehensive podiatric services,” explains Dr. Lockwood. “The addition of Dr. Jarod Spencer will enable HFAA to continue to provide even more exceptional services to patients—including more flexibility regarding hours and availability…and wait times for scheduling an appointment will definitely decrease. Our goal is that patients are seen within 24 hours of an appointment request!”

What Problems Can Be Addressed by a Podiatrist?
Most of us take our feet for granted until they hurt—and when that happens, the pain can cause a complete change in our activities and decrease our enjoyment of life. In fact, almost 20 percent of the U.S. population experiences some kind of foot problem each year. Add to that the increased foot and circulation problems caused by diabetes and obesity, and the need for podiatric services will continue to expand.

Podiatry includes the comprehensive care of all aspects of foot and ankle problems. The variety of subjects required during the course of study for a degree in podiatric medicine provides some insight into the types of issues a podiatrist treats: biomechanics, surgical topics, neuroscience, trauma, pathology, sports medicine, and infectious diseases—just to name a few.

“We cover a lot of things that people don’t often realize,” says Dr. Lockwood. “We do surgery, wound care, dermatology, vascular testing—basically, we take care of anything that could happen to the foot or ankle. Patients will often come in and say, ‘I didn’t know you did that!’”

Issues in the feet often signal problems in other areas, so podiatrists often refer to cardiologists or other specialists. At HFAA, they have the diagnostic tools that help diagnose issues quickly and accurately, such as digital radiography and vascular testing. “Digital radiography enables us to read our own X-rays in real time,” Dr. Lockwood explains.

Another thing many patients may not be aware of is that patients can self-refer to a podiatrist—there’s no need to have an appointment with a primary care physician to get a referral. This is very helpful as it cuts down the wait time for a patient to be seen and receive treatment.

New Physicians to Arrive in July
Dr. Spencer will finish his three-year residency program in South Florida in July and transition more fully into his role at Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates in August. He will start his individual scheduling with patients in September.

He is a graduate of the Dr. William M. Scholl School of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science located in North Chicago. The Scholl School is recognized worldwide as a leader in podiatric medical education—one-third of all practicing podiatrists in the U.S. are graduates of the program.

The search for additional podiatrists for the practice, as is often the case for any medical specialty, has taken quite a while. “We’ve been interviewing physicians for over two years…and we finally found the perfect fit for our office,” says Guillory.

Part of the draw for Dr. Spencer was, oddly enough, the distinct seasons. Raised in Wichita, Kansas, he became interested in medicine due in part to the fact that his mother was a burn center nurse. His exposure to the hospital setting as a youth, in addition to an internship with a podiatrist while an undergraduate student at the University of Tulsa, helped develop an interest in podiatry. He has a special interest in treating wound care and diabetic issues as well as preventative care.

His residency at Aventura Hospital in the Miami, Florida area not only gave him a lot of experience with treating a variety of podiatric problems but also solidified his desire to come back to the Midwest. “Bloomington is a good fit—it feels a lot like Kansas to me. And I’m actually excited about snow in the winter!”

The Family Continues to Grow
Once Dr. Spencer arrives, more patients will be able to be seen more quickly—which is important to Dr. Lockwood. “We truly care about patients and don’t want them to experience pain and discomfort for any longer than they have to. Our patients become like family—they check up on what’s going on in our lives as much as share what’s happening in theirs. They look at our photo albums and often want updates on how our families are doing.”

Dr. Lockwood will continue to see patients as well as do administrative and management tasks for the practice. She is very excited, however, that the timing of Dr. Spencer's arrival will dovetail nicely with the arrival of her second child in late August. “When my daughter was born, she came to the office with me, so I’m happy that having two additional doctors in the practice will allow me to actually take time off when this baby arrives!”

Taking time to be a family is very important to Dr. Lockwood and her husband, Scott Heape, who works for the McLean County Chamber of Commerce and does financial work for HFAA.

The personal and professional growth is exciting for everyone at Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates. “Everything we do here at HFAA is based on one common goal—to provide compassionate, comprehensive patient care. Expanding our team and adding two more physicians will enhance the patient experience. We will be able to accommodate more patients throughout the day with the addition of more providers as well,” says Guillory.

“Plus, I’m happy that Dr. Lockwood can take some much-needed time off to care for her new baby, but more importantly, I’m happy our office can still continue to care for patients during this time. With the addition of Dr. Spencer, we will be able to offer more consistent patient hours and not compromise our patient satisfaction while also accommodating physician needs.” That’s positive growth indeed.

Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates is located at Heartland Drive in Bloomington. You may contact them at 309-661-9975 or online at www.HeartlandFootAndAnkle.com.

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