NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — COVID-19 never closed the doors to the Affiliated Foot and Ankle Surgeons office — a lifeline for diabetic patients.

“We have to see these folks with either open wounds or partial foot amputations,” says Dr. Peter Blume, a podiatric, foot and ankle surgeon in private practice and a Medical Director at Yale New Haven Hospital.

He says fear of the coronavirus kept patients with life threatening conditions away.
Some ignoring symptoms easily managed with medication early on.

Dr. Blume says one patient, “He started out with a small infection of his toe.”

That eventually led to a critical situation.

“He had a gas gangrene extending to the foot all the way up. He was septic, he had bacteria in his blood. That gentleman lost his leg but we were able to save his life.”

Safety measures were in place since the start of the outbreak.

“We never had two physicians in the office, there was never anyone in the waiting room,” he says. “Our goal was to make sure our patients were safe and cared for.”

Two and half months out, many are returning to a touch less experience.

Dr. Blume explains, “Now when a patient enters this office, they no longer touch anything.”

A mask is required. A crowded waiting area – gone. So are magazines. Automated hand sanitizers installed. Plexiglass inserted. Temperature taken. No pens. No paperwork. Treatment rooms constantly disinfected.

“We don’t want doors closed anymore. Doors stay open. I want air flow in and out. I don’t want anyone touching handles,” say Dr. Blume.

Significant upgrades in the midst of the pandemic are now permanent.

He says, “Our job is to take care of patients in a safe environment.”

Dr. Blume and his staff meet weekly to fine tune the work flow. The changes were an investment but he says necessary to reassure patients.