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A newsletter from Ankle & Foot Care Centers.

First Quarter 2018 Edition:

Dr. Ashley Mychak Joins Ankle & Foot Care Centers

Ankle & Foot Care Centers, the region's largest podiatric medical practice, recently announced the addition of Dr. Ashley Mychak as a fellow to its staff of physicians and surgeons. Dr. Mychak is working on a fellowship alongside Dr. Lawrence DiDomenico, training in advanced surgical procedures such as total ankle replacements, diabetic Charcot foot reconstruction and reconstructive rearfoot and ankle surgery. Read more here.

Copyright © March 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Timely Surgery Saves Salem Patient's Foot, Changes Life

Michael Ospeck is in high spirits after facing a life-altering experience last May.

The Salem car salesman says he feels 100 percent now and is grateful to have not only his foot, but also his life, following surgery and treatment led by Dr. Gregory Blasko.

"I came upon Dr. Blasko during a medical emergency and my life changed forever," said Michael, 57. "He never threw any curves and it was something that he saw in me that other doctors did not. That was raw hope!"

At the time, Michael, a diabetic, did not know that he suffered from diabetic neuropathy, a loss of feeling in the limbs. In addition to having high blood sugar, he also was a cigarette-smoker and admitted to having a poor diet.

What started as a callous on the bottom of his right big toe turned into an infection over time. Gangrene, a condition caused by the loss of blood flow, killed the tissue in Michael's big toe.

"For about six to 10 months, the callous on my toe would turn red and bleed, but it went back to normal about a dozen times," Michael explained. "But then, I knew disaster was around the corner when I saw the whole side of my foot turn red and suddenly my toe was black."

A doctor told him he had a medical emergency and must be rushed to the hospital.

On May 4, Michael arrived at Salem Regional Medical Center and met Dr. Blasko, who made the decision to do surgery the following day. Dr. Blasko removed Michael's big toe and knuckle but saved a majority of his foot.

He also found that two of the main arteries below his knee were blocked, a condition blamed in part on a poor diet and smoking. This condition was remedied by a second surgery to open the two blocked arteries. Dr. Blasko then warned Michael that if he continued these habits, there was a strong chance he could lose his leg. Michael knew he had to make a lifestyle change.

"Losing my leg was not an option," he recalled. "The body has a miraculous ability to heal itself, especially when you are no longer poisoning it with cigarettes, sugars and a bad diet. I knew I had to listen to my doctors if I wanted to save my leg and my life."

Michael is now able to carry on with his everyday life and his career.

"I thank God for my team of doctors, led by Dr. Blasko, who helped me through the most frightful six months of my life, with the least amount of damage to my physical form," he said.

"Thanks to the doctors and my willingness to do what I needed to do as a patient, we were able to ensure success with my physical, mental and emotional health, under the awareness of God, quietly directing the show."

Copyright © March 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Ankle & Foot Donates Footwear to Individuals in Need

Several hundred pairs of shoes and socks will be delivered to individuals and families in need this winter as a result of the recent holiday drive led by Ankle & Foot Care Centers. Across its network of 20 locations in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania, Ankle & Foot collected new and nearly new shoes donated by employees, podiatrists, patients and friends from late November through early January. The Salvation Army will distribute the shoes and socks to local individuals and families. Read more here.

Copyright © March 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Dr. Petrolla Cares for Patients -- and Animals

Meet Moses and Newton, Dr. Petrolla's rescue horses.

From the time she was a little girl, Dr. Heather Petrolla always knew she wanted to be a doctor.

"Back in the day, women didn't become doctors. But I knew that's what I wanted to do," she said.

Dr. Petrolla had wanted to become a family doctor, but then decided to go into podiatry after experiencing a foot surgery of her own.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Microbiology, from the Ohio State University in 1973 and graduated from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland in 1978.

Dr. Petrolla is a trustee for the Eastern Academy, Ohio Podiatric Medical Association and a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Dr. Petrolla sees a broad range of ailments and conditions of the feet and ankles. She sees patients in the practice's Struthers and Cornersburg offices.

"What is great about Ankle & Foot Care Centers is the amount of experience across the group," she said. "There is a wide range of knowledge."

When she's not busy taking care of patients, Dr. Petrolla is taking care of her rescue animals.

"I've always had a love for animals," she said. "I grew up on a dairy farm. Now I live on my own farm and rescue racehorses, dogs and cats. When racehorses are too old or injured, they are usually put down. I have saved six horses over time but I have two now, Moses and Newton."

Newton started out as a racehorse, then his previous owner rescued him and he became a renowned jumper until he suffered from a broken leg after a bad jump. After his surgery, Dr. Petrolla and her friend adopted Newton and nursed him back to health.

She has four rescue dogs -- Cinder, Carly, Rogers and Cody -- as well as "a bunch of cats," she said. "We all get along out on the farm."

Copyright © March 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Medical Secretary Enjoys Being "Work Mom"

Pictured is Karen with her husband, Billy (and their Jeep Wrangler).

Medical secretary Karen Kozak earned her unofficial title - "work mom" - over the course of her 15 years at Ankle & Foot Care Centers.

"I'm the glue that holds the office and coworkers together as a team and a family," says Karen, 64. "That's why they call me 'work mom.'"

She sees her coworkers and doctors at the Poland office as family because they can go to one another with work-related questions as well as personal concerns.

"Three years ago I had become sick and each one of the doctors showed their compassion and concern for my health," Karen says. "They still check on me until this day to make sure I'm OK."

In addition to her work-family, she also loves interacting with patients and says it's the best part of her day.

"Every patient is different and has different needs, but one thing they all need is for someone to make them smile or laugh," she says. "That's my goal - being compassionate to their needs."

Karen is known for her office decor, as she makes an effort to decorate for every occasion. "All the patients enjoy this," she says. "Some will even stop by on their way to the grocery story to see if I've decorated."

Karen says the most important part of her life is her faith, as well as spending time and traveling with her husband, Billy, of 45 years. They travel to see their two children across the country. Their daughter, Samantha, and two grandsons live in Las Vegas, and their son, Steven, and their other grandson live in Baltimore.

Karen enjoys taking short trips with Billy in their Jeep Wrangler with the top down, she says. They also love going to the movies, dinner and casinos.

She and Billy live in Canfield.

Copyright © March 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Watch for These Common Foot Problems in Children

Children are affected by many of the same foot problems adults experience, including flat feet, plantar warts, ingrown toenails and heel pain. Some conditions occur more commonly in kids and are affected by their active lifestyles. Read more and watch the video here

Copyright © March 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Youngstown Man Back to Work After Avoiding Amputation

William Taylor of Youngstown suffered with an open wound on the bottom of his foot for three years before finding the solution to his pain: treatment led by Dr. John Barrett of Ankle & Foot Care Centers.

"I was seeing another foot doctor from a different practice who was telling me what I didn't want to hear," said William, 73. "He said the solution was to amputate my foot, so I wanted a second opinion."

William met Dr. Barrett last year when he was sent to St. Elizabeth Medical Center's Wound Care Center.

"After treating the wound, Dr. Barrett made it very clear to me that he had to remove a bone that was putting pressure on the spot behind my wound, preventing it from healing completely," explained William. "So he offered a much more favorable solution than the amputation the other doctor was going to perform."

Dr. Barrett performed surgery and removed a bone in the ball area of William's foot on December 18. Within two weeks, William was completely healed, he said.

"I don't just have less pain - I have NO pain," William said. "I'm 73 years old and I'm back at work feeling 100 percent."

William is able to work pain-free on his feet in the kitchen at Youngstown State University.

"I would recommend anyone to Dr. Barrett," said William. "He's a very good doctor and he makes everything easy to understand."

Copyright © March 2018 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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From the Kitchen: Diabetic Friendly Chai Latte Recipe

From The Kitchen

(From the Kitchen recipes are provided by the Diabetes Partnership of the Mahoning Valley.)

On cold winter days you don't need to leave the house to get your favorite chai latte anymore. You can make it yourself and enjoy it in the comfort of your home, while curled up in a blanket.
Serving Size: 1 person
Diabetic Friendly: Yes


1/2 cup very warm 2% milk
1/2 cup hot strongly brewed Constant Comment tea (tea with orange and sweet spices)
2 packets Equal sweetener
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


Combine all ingredients in beverage mug until blended. Serve immediately.
For more information, including nutritional information, see this link.

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