Swope Health announces the addition of podiatrist Dr. Heather Newhard to our family of care professionals. Here’s a bit more information about her, in her own words.
- Tell us a bit about your background.
I am a Board-Certified Podiatric Physician with more than a decade of service in the non-profit sector of healthcare.
Before attending Samuel Merrit University for podiatry medical school, I received an undergraduate degree from the University of Central Oklahoma in Biology and Psychology and a graduate degree in public health from KU School of Medicine. I completed my residency at the VA Palo Alto Stanford Healthcare System’s three-year Podiatric Medicine and Surgical Residency program in Palo Alto, California.
My clinical career has focused on integrated outpatient Podiatric medical services in Federally Qualified Health Centers.
In addition to clinical medicine, I have served in various administrative healthcare leadership roles focusing on quality, compliance, informatics, and provider and Health Team wellness.
- Why were you drawn to podiatry?
My mother is a Type 1 Diabetic. I saw firsthand at an early age the impact Diabetes has on the overall health of a caregiver and their families. She was diagnosed with a debilitating foot condition related to her diabetes while I was in graduate school. Researching the best qualified provider to serve her needs, I came across the profession of Podiatry.
Podiatry offers the opportunity to meet patients where they are and provide preventative and impactful conservative (as well as surgical when indicated) treatment plans to keep patients active and ambulatory so they can continue to live life fully to the best of their abilities.
- Why is podiatry important to Swope Health’s patients?
Systemic or whole-body disease manifestations in the foot and ankle encompass a wide range of medical conditions including two of the largest clinical conditions impacting Swope patients: Diabetes and Hypertension (cardiovascular disease).
Preventive healthcare from a podiatry perspective plays a key role in mortality and morbidity from cardiovascular and diabetic related complications.
Podiatrists focus on four major systems – vascular, neurologic, dermatologic, and musculoskeletal. For example, Diabetes can damage the nerve endings in the feet which make it less likely a patient will notice an issue. Diabetes can also damage blood vessels and limit a patient’s ability to heal infection. Hypertension or high blood pressure can lead to a buildup of plaque in blood vessels which can cause decreased blood flow to your feet resulting in wounds and limited ability to heal injury or infection. Additional manifestations of skin and bone conditions can compound vascular and nerve disease.
- What should patients expect when visiting you? What happens in a podiatry exam?
A typical Podiatry visit starts with a complete history of the patient – from a patient’s medical conditions, medications and previous surgeries, to home- and work-lifestyle. Getting to know the patient helps the Podiatrist best serve their needs and understand any barriers that may exist to treatment options.
Our physical exam primarily focuses on the foot and ankle. We examine your pulses, may listen to them as well. We examine your nerve health, range of motion of your joints as well as bony or soft tissue abnormalities and skin and nail health. We may have you walk or stand in place as well to see how your feet align and function with the rest of your joints.
After the exam we will provide you with an assessment of your foot and ankle health and offer you conversative options to manage issues you have. Surgical options may be discussed and referred for intervention when indicated.
- Tell us why or how this work is meaningful to you.
My favorite days are seeing patients impacted by the preventative education and treatment options actively make changes in their lives to improve their foot and overall health. Having a poorly controlled diabetic patient finally reach their goal after learning more details about how blood sugar impacts their feet and seeing the pride in my patients – this brings me joy.
It is also very satisfying when I can pare a callus or trim nails in a patient that has not had care for a long time or simply cannot manage themselves. These patients express the best, most sincere gratitude and often walk away feeling instantly better. That is a great feeling to provide a service and see the direct result right after.
I also enjoy co-managing patients with other providers in the health center setting. Interdisciplinary care like that offered at Swope Health allows an integrated healthcare team to address patients’ needs in one location. If a patient has a foot ulcer in the medical clinic or a teenager has an infected ingrown toenail, being onsite as a part of the Swope Health team helps eliminate barriers to access for care, such as transportation and referral delays.
- Tell us how patients will find you?
I take internal referrals for all Swope Health patients with foot and ankle health care needs. Diabetics with risk of blood flow or nerve complications are highly encouraged to discuss a referral with their primary care provider at Swope Health. Your care provider will discuss a referral with you for blood flow or nerve complications.
Podiatry services are currently offered at Swope Health Central Adult Medicine, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Anything you’d like patients to know about you personally?
I enjoy live music and performance, visual art, and spending time with my family and pets. Since we relocated to Kansas City last year, my family and I have enjoyed exploring Kansas City and becoming avid KC sports fans.
I am honored to be a part of an organization with such a positive longstanding community impact, and I look forward to serving our community as part of the Swope Health team.
Join us in welcoming Dr. Newhard to Swope Health. If you are interested in learning more, please talk with your healthcare provider at Swope Health and ask for a referral. Call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.