Last week, Barry Sykes of Moody picked up a new pair of shoes.
The shoes will replace the pair he’s been wearing daily for the past 10 years.
Sykes was born with some congenital disorders that included a dislocated hip and a club foot. His left foot turns inward and his spine is curved.
Individuals who have foot deformities need customized shoes, Jesse Goss of G&G Prosthetic Services said.
Sykes’ custom shoes were paid for through the United Way of Central Texas Bridges to Wellness and Health program.
Bridges to Wellness and Health is a collaborative strategy of Baylor Scott & White Health-Temple, United Way of Central Texas, Body of Christ Clinic and the Temple Community Clinic.
The program works with underinsured and uninsured clients who are unable to afford the necessary prescriptions, equipment, transportation, and supplies to maintain or improve their health status. The goal is to bridge the gap while the client awaits approval of a long-term solution.
The funding of the program is through donations, primarily from Baylor Scott & White staff and physicians.
The first new shoes arrived in May, but Sykes wanted boots that had a higher top that would support his ankle.
Since his left foot has a tendency to roll, he needs the extra support.
Though his legs appear fragile, they’ve worked for Sykes for many years. His stride may be anything but smooth, but he knows what feels right and what doesn’t.
Sykes can’t cross his legs to put on his shoes so he pulls his left leg under his right to pull on the shoe and to lace it up. It looks a little awkward, but Sykes has mastered the move.
G&G took casts of Syke’s feet and the casts were sent to a company in New York where the shoes were to be made.
Sykes will return to G&G next week for a follow up visit.
Goss told Sykes to check his feet about an hour after he puts on his new boots.
“Look at your feet and make sure the shoes aren’t rubbing on your ankle or the tops of your toes,” Goss said. “If you see any red areas, take the new shoes off and go back to the old shoes until you see me.”
When Sykes tried on the latest new shoes for the first time they felt good, but he needed a more lift in his left shoe.
Goss tossed a thick book on the floor for Sykes to use under his left foot to determine how much of an adjustment was needed.
“How’s that feel?” Goss asked Sykes as another book was added to the stack.
“A lot better,” Sykes said.
Goss had Sykes stand with his back to him so he could determine if his hips were aligned with the added height. Under ideal circumstances, Goss would be able to tell if the hips were even by looking at the individual’s spine, however, Sykes’ spine has a significant curve.
Goss took the shoe and headed back to his workshop to add more sole. The shoe ended up with a sole that was about four inches thick.
Born and raised in Moody. Sykes said he had multiple surgeries up and down his body to improve his ability to walk.
Sykes’ new shoes would normally cost around $1,800, a price way beyond his means. With some discounts, Sykes’ shoes cost the Bridges program about $1,000.
Sykes is on Supplemental Security, which is designed to help aged, blind and disabled people who have little or no income. He has Medicare/Medicaid, which typically picks up the costs of wheelchairs and walkers, but not orthopedic shoes.
A Baylor Scott & White social worker referred Sykes to the United Way of Central Texas’ Bridges to Wellness and Health program.
“I’m very excited, these shoes have just about had it,” he said referring to his old pair. “The insides are worn out.”
He had known he needed new shoes, but he also knew he couldn’t afford them.
Program helps people
Daniel Ramos, United Way of Central Texas community services coordinator, said Bridges to Wellness and Health has assisted hundreds of people whose needs might cost anywhere from a few dollars to thousands.
Veshell Greene, public relations coordinator for United Way, said she had recently worked with a woman who has Medicare, but couldn’t pay for two 30-day prescriptions that cost $300.
Most of the time the Bridges program works as a stop gap measure that’s used until a more permanent solution is found for the person.
If an individual can’t afford to fill their prescriptions, they may apply for the patient assistance programs pharmaceutical companies have that pick up the cost or offer medications at reduced rates. The application process takes some expertise and is usually handled by someone in a clinical setting.
Bridges to Wellness and Health works with Temple Community Clinic and Body of Christ Clinic in Belton to take advantage of resources available there for the community.
Bridges to Wellness and Health helps with procuring wheelchairs, walkers and CPAP machines, used by people with sleep apnea.
Most of the individuals that receive assistance from the Bridges to Wellness and Health are referred by a social worker or physician, while some hear about the program and contact the United Way directly.
Other medical facilities have considered developing similar programs to Bridges, Ramos said, but once they figure out that it requires significant manpower, time and collaboration from all, they decide against it.
Expansion to children’s hospital
The local program has expanded to Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center.
“This program is doing great things for people, so many people don’t have the money for basic needs, like a pair of shoes or a brace that enables them to walk,” Goss said. “It increases the individual’s mobility and puts them back into the community, it saves on the medical costs that comes with reinjury.”
There are different layers within Sykes’ shoe and a spinal curve or a twisted limb can change over the years and all of the measurement numbers change, Goss said.
“When he walks, Barry’s vertebrae and joints compress,” he said. “If he’s not pretty level when he walks, it will stress the knees, hips and his back, which is already messed up.”
This feels a whole lot better,” Sykes said, after getting the left shoe back with the addition to the sole.
Goss has had a lifetime career in prosthetics, beginning with the Air Force.
“I love it and am still thrilled to come to work every day,” he said.
G&G has a niche in the area as a small business that has been able to work with most of the insurance companies and have an active role in the community, helping with programs like Bridges to Wellness and Health.
“We really try to give back to the community,” Goss said.