Divine Connection: Podiatrists learn about MOM at annual Healing Mass

When Dr. Paul Ledesma, MS, DPM, and his wife, Lisa Pallini, both podiatrists, decided to attend the World Day of the Sick Healing Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix earlier this year, they had no idea that an opportunity to fulfill a long-held desire to serve would present itself.

Both podiatrists have always been interested in doing missionary work within their field, but envisioned missionary trips to third-world countries and not necessarily serving in their own community. Mission of Mercy hosted a table at the health fair following the mass, and Executive Director Paula Carvalho had the opportunity to educate Dr. Ledesma and Dr. Pallini about the great local need for volunteer physicians and specialists within MOM’s clinics, particularly those who can treat patients dealing with complications related to diabetes.

“Podiatrists are strategically critical for diabetics as part of their medical care team because we do see a lot of complications in the feet that happen as a result of diabetes,” said Dr. Ledesma, who has been practicing podiatry for nearly 20 years. “I’ve always had a passion for helping diabetics, as both sides of my family have been impacted by the chronic health condition. I lost my father at just 62 as a result of a direct complication of diabetes, so helping in this area is important to me.”

Volunteering at MOM

April is National Foot Health Awareness Month, and  marks the start of Dr. Ledesma’s volunteer service at MOM’s North Phoenix Baptist clinic site, which is home to a comprehensive diabetes management program. He plans to volunteer quarterly at a minimum, and his wife will join him when she’s able.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, approximately 20% of the U.S. population has at least one foot problem annually. It may be the result of poor fitting shoes, or a serious underlying health problem such as peripheral neuropathy, diabetes or obesity.

“Unfortunately with underserved populations like the patients seen at MOM clinics, lack of access to care and medication leads to poor health outcomes,” Dr. Ledesma said. “In fact, when a diabetic has a major amputation, the five-year mortality rate is 75%. That underscores how critical it is to treat patients early on and preserve limbs whenever possible.”

A Global Reach

Dr. Ledesma is passionate about helping diabetics all around the world, including those in his native Philippines. He founded a medical company that helps diabetics by distributing a biological allograft derived from donated amniotic tissue that accelerates the healing process. It’s a medical product commonly used in the U.S., but his company is the only certified vendor providing it in the Philippines.

Dr. Ledesma completed his surgical residency at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Hospital, in Cambridge, Mass., where he obtained advanced surgical training in the areas of adult and pediatric flatfoot reconstruction, diabetic Charcot and limb salvage, and external fixation.

Dr. Ledesma owns Ledesma Foot and Ankle in Scottsdale, Ariz., which recently celebrated its 11th anniversary serving patients in need of foot and ankle care.His family moved to Arizona in 2009 for sunshine and to be closer to extended family. Outside of podiatry, Dr. Ledesma enjoys practicing Brazilian jiu jitsu, playing golf, fly fishing, scuba diving, tennis, playing the guitar, and spending time with his wife and two children.