At Gulf South Foot & Ankle (2520 Harvard Ave., Metairie, 504-454-3004; www.gulfsouthfootandankle.com), husband-and-wife podiatrists Dr. Leon Watkins and Dr. Maria Markiewicz focus on a treatment method called "collaborative foot care," which makes their practice stand out from most other podiatry centers in the city.
For Watkins and Markiewicz, collaborative care involves teaching patients about proper foot care and getting input from other med- ical professionals.
"A lot of our patients that require foot care have foot problems because they're diabetic," Watkins says, adding that he is in frequent contact with surgeons, primary care physicians, infectious disease doctors and endocrinologists in order to give his patients the best treatments. "It's kind of a team approach to foot care. We're not an island."
Gulf South Foot & Ankle provides every kind of foot service possible, from cosmetic procedures to ankle surgery. Watkins is one of a handful of podiatrists in the state certified to perform ankle care and reconstructive surgery.
"We're really a one-stop shop, which a lot of patients appreciate," Watkins says.
Office administrator Debbie Kiger says the center also focuses on patient education.
"We really get our patients involved and educate them as much as possible on what they have to do at home to make sure they're keeping their feet healthy," Kiger says.
The doctors treat foot problems caused by diabetes, gout, hammertoe, heel pain, and more. They also provide services such as nail trimming and laser treatments to eliminate foot fungus.
For patients with plantar fasciitis, which causes foot and heel pain, Watkins provides a tool called a Heeler, made by ProNiche Medical. He also sells a Kneeler, a tool that helps patients recover from surgery by maintaining leg motion and circulation.
Watkins and Markiewicz don't just treat patients in their office. They also appear at expositions in various New Orleans communities, providing free podiatric screenings.
Watkins started as a podiatrist in 1997 when he opened Watkins Foot Center. He has always been involved in the community, Kiger says.
"Dr. Watkins has been in practice for so long, he feeds off of that," she says. "He feeds off being able to help people, whether it's by seeing them or by educating nonpatients in the community."