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Eileen McCartney: Diabetic Foot Ulcer

Eileen McCartney

Meet Eileen McCartney

Eileen McCartney knows that living with diabetes presents some challenges. In the spring of 2022, one of those was the development of an ulcer on the bottom of her left heel.

The then-62-year-old scheduled an appointment with her podiatrist who cleaned the wound and dressed it but quickly realized that Eileen would need care beyond what he could provide.

“The ulcer was worse than I originally thought,” she recalls. “So, I decided to try a different approach.”

The Path to UPMC

Eileen’s podiatrist referred her to UPMC Wound Healing Services at UPMC Northwest, not far from her home in Venus, Pa. Just a few days later, she met Renee Young, CRNP, who quickly advised her new patient to visit the emergency department.

“I was sent for a bone scan, and the doctors were concerned about how deep the wound was,” Eileen explains. “They were worried about bacteria getting into the bone and causing osteomyelitis.”

Renee then put Eileen in contact with a foot surgeon in Erie, who told her he could perform a procedure known as a calcaneal ostectomy – which would involve intentionally breaking her heel bone in order to correct the issue. But, he couldn’t guarantee that he wouldn’t have to amputate below the knee.

“When I woke up, I was relieved to see that I still had my leg,” Eileen says.

Getting Back on Her Feet

While grateful that her leg remained intact, Eileen did have a large incision on her foot at the site of the surgery. She was soon back at Northwest, where Renee and her team worked to heal the wound.

This included regular measurements, dressing and medication changes, as well as debridement – the removal of dead or infected tissue or debris from the wound for proper healing.

By February 2023, the wound – which originally measured 6.5 (length) x 3.5 (width) x 1.4 (depth) centimeters – was finally closed, with the only sign of surgery being a small dot that was covered with new skin.

Eileen is excited to be able to walk again – a once simple task that became complicated by diabetes and a stubborn foot ulcer. A retired nurse of 35 years, Eileen understands the importance of high-quality health care professionals and says that’s exactly who she encountered at UPMC.

“Renee was an angel, and the whole staff was just unbelievable. They took pictures throughout the process, monitored my improvements, and did everything they could to get me back to good health.”

Eileen’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.