Headlines Cont. – 3/3/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 3, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – March 3, 2006


N.P. trustees accept tutoring proposal
By Jason C. Mattox

After more than a month of fighting with the North Panola School District over the right to provide supplementary tutoring services, Square Minds Academy’s Tims Quinn was approved to work with five children.

During Monday night’s meeting of the North Panola School District Board of Trustees, Federal Programs Coordinator Mary Grady explained that Quinn solicited the five students on his own, without assistance from the school district.

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Quinn’s services will be paid out of Title I money the district receives.

The North Panola School District receives $1,800 per child to pay for supplemental services for students in the Como Middle School. The Como Middle School has been deemed by the State Department of Education as "in improvement," a designation that means that its students’ academic performance has failed to improve or declined in standardized testing.

Under his proposal to the five parents who agreed to use Square Minds Academy, Quinn agreed to provide financial incentives to students who participated in his program.

"The [Mississippi Department of Education] told us in a letter that the parents and students cannot receive financial incentives from a supplemental education services provider (SES)," Grady said.

Grady further explained that Quinn had resubmitted his proposal with a letter rescinding the financial incentives.

"Mr. Quinn’s proposal also calls for an on-site tutor," she added. "Supplemental services must happen before or after the regular school day. There cannot be a tutor here during the school day."

Board attorney Alix Sanders suggested the board accept the proposal with that portion deleted. They accepted the amended proposal 4-0. Billy Russell was absent from the meeting.

After the proposal was accepted, Quinn said he had some items he wanted read into the minutes. His request was denied, but a printed version of his comments was provided to the trustees and others in attendance.

In the statement, Quinn outlined his purpose, credentials and his offer to parents.

The statement also included an e-mail from Mariea Banks of the Mississippi Department of Education that explained that MDE had no policy in place that would prohibit SES providers from offering financial incentives to parents.

As he was leaving the meeting, Quinn was told board president Cecil Dowden that he would receive the names of the five students in writing soon.

Crenshaw Elementary School back in session after plumbing problem
By Jason C. Mattox

A plumbing problem that got Crenshaw Elementary School Students a day out of school on Wednesday has been resolved, according to principal Gilda Thomas.

Thomas said the day off for students became necessary when sewage was discovered backing up outside of the school.

"We didn’t discover the problem until after the students had gone home for the day on Tuesday," she said. "So we had to call radio and television stations and also make personal phone calls to parents to let them know about the situation.

"The sewage had not begun backing up into the building, and we wanted to get it resolved before it did," Thomas added.

North Panola School District Maintenance Supervisor John Reed resolved the problem with assistance from other workers and students returned to school on Thursday, Thomas said.

"We were very happy to get the problem resolved with the students only missing one day of school," she said.

Podiatric practice bring foursome to Tri-Lakes
By John Howell Sr.

     "How beautiful on the mountains
     Are the feet of him who brings good news … "
                               ~ Isaiah 52: 7 (a)

Though most seldom notice, Isaiah is one of the few writers anywhere ever to refer to feet as an object of beauty.

Four who might notice are Doctors Michael Whitmore, Craig Williams, Amy DeGirolamo and John Catafygiotu, Oxford podiatrists who practice as North Mississippi Foot Specialists, PC. They each spent a considerable portion of their lives as young adults studying the human foot.

In a regimen not unlike the education and training required to become a medical doctor, doctors of podiatry spend four years in undergraduate study followed by four years in podiatric medical school. Then, depending on the subspecialty chosen, doctors of podiatry spend one to four years in residency training.

While the Doctors of Podiatric Medicine did not mention the foot as an object of beauty, their discussion described the basic appendage of locomotion as an object of intense interest and as an often-ignored indicator of the overall health of the body to which they are attached.

Their interest in foot care has led to a plan to open offices in every county north of Highway 82, which runs from Greenville to Columbus. Currently, they have 18 clinic locations, he added, and have yet to open offices in Tunica and DeSoto counties. They frequently rent office space from primary care physicians, Williams said, to see patients, often those referred by the primary care physician, one day a week.

Their practice brings them to Batesville each Friday; to their office at 555 Highway 6 East in the Convenient Care building and usually on Wednesdays frequently to Tri-Lakes Medical Center where they perform 90 percent of their surgeries, Williams said.

Typical surgeries include flat foot correction, bunionectomies and hammer toe correction, a spokesman said.

The doctors in the practice also see patients in about 40 nursing homes, Catafygiotu said.

Fueling the need for podiatric care in Mississippi is a skyrocketing rate of diabetes linked to the state’s dubious distinction as having the largest percentage of obese people in the country, Williams said. Diabetes decreases circulation and sensation in feet, Whitmore said. The combination leads to foot sores that are difficult to heal, he added.

Obesity and diabetes coupled with the state’s poverty level influenced the business model that North Mississippi Foot Specialists adopted, based on "a need we identified, given the fact that there’s such a large diabetic population (that is) medically under served and the socioeconomic factors," Whitmore said.

"That’s one of the reasons we take our coverage to the people; … it is a very (medically) under served state," Williams added. Poor people seldom have the means to travel to see specialists, he added.

Compounding the difficulties of treating diabetics is a lack of understanding of the role of podiatry in overall health care.

"A lot of docs don’t know what we do," Williams said. "How many times have you been to the (primary care) doctor and he asked you to take off your socks and shoes so he could look at your feet," he added.

"A lot of people think we do nothing but trim toenails, and that’s not true," DeGirolamo said.

"We were the first people in the state to use stem cells of your blood to pack back onto your wound so your body can heal itself," Williams said. He emphasized that the stems cells were harvested from the patient and were not related to embryonic stem cells.

The podiatric practice has also adopted other leading edge technologies to "help your body heal itself" through use of "high energy radio frequency waves" and "high energy ultra sound," Williams continued.

And yet, "trimming fungal toenails is hugely important," Whitmore interjected. Many foot sores among people with diabetes begin with improperly trimmed nails, he said. Foot sores that are not properly treated too often lead to amputations.

"Everybody in Mississippi has someone in their family or a friend who has had some part of a foot cut off, …" as a result of a foot sore aggravated by diabetes, Williams said.

"It’s incredibly hard work; it’s easy to cut things off, but it’s hard to save them," Williams continued.

Podiatry is not limited to foot problems associated with diabetes. Many people are familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome, a wrist injury caused or aggravated by repetitive motion of the wrist in a strained position. Tarsal tunnel syndrome has the "exact same pathology," for the ankle, Catafyfiotu said.

Catafyfiotu said that he sees patients with the tarsal tunnel syndrome who hold industrial jobs that require them to stand on concrete floors for long periods of time, usually in poorly-fitted, steel-toed footwear.

The podiatrists also see athletes who seek treatment for everything from stress fractures to heel pain, but it was Williams’ experience with his own child playing soccer which led to his discovery that "soccer shoes are poorly designed." He’s now working on an insert to improve the fit of the shoe for the sport that involves much running, stopping, starting and turning.

Shoe fitting and footwear are an area of concern for podiatrists, not only for diabetic patients but also for all patients, Whitmore said.

"When your feet hurt, you hurt all over; people have it in their minds that foot pain is normal," Williams said. "That’s one thing that blows my mind: people assume they’re supposed to hurt," he added.

Foot pain has also come to be routinely associated with the removal of ingrown toenails, said Williams. The podiatrist recalled a lady who, when she came to him as a patient, recalled her previous experience in having ingrown toenails removed as "worse than childbirth."

"It’s just a matter of the right instruments and the right techniques; if you have that it’s a relatively painless procedure," Whitmore said.

Podiatrists coordinate care of their patients’ feet with other health care professionals who are attending other patient needs. With diabetics, this often involves a nutritionist, an endocrinologist, a cardio-vascular surgeon and others.

"We spend a lot of time on the phone," Williams said. He described a typical patient in the Delta whose foot problems were caused by her diabetes which also caused or contributed to her congestive heart failure, renal failure and other health problems.

"The extent of the pathology is staggering at times," he said.

But, "that makes podiatry fun for me; you see the full spectrum of patient care. A lot of what goes wrong with the body shows up first in the feet," Whitmore added.



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