January 31, 2023

Newswise – Matthew Conti, MD, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), and colleagues recently provided more than 100 pairs of new shoes and socks and offered free foot exams to homeless people at the Mainchance Drop-In Center in New York City . dr Conti, who recently joined HSS, founded the non-profit organization Our Hearts to Your Soles with his father, also a foot and ankle surgeon, when he was just 15 years old.

The shoe giveaway in New York was one of 17 multi-state Our Hearts to Your Soles events held throughout November and December. Orthopedic surgeons and other volunteers across the country are donating their services to provide much-needed shoes and exams for people who are homeless. together with dr Conti, his wife, three orthopedic surgeons in the HSS fellowship program and other hospital staff volunteered at the Nov. 19 event in New York.

dr Conti made it his mission to help when he was in high school. As a volunteer at a Pittsburgh wound care clinic, he saw the potentially devastating consequences when people with diabetes or another medical condition develop severe sores on their feet. He started thinking about homeless people getting foot problems because they don’t have a proper pair of shoes, especially in the cold months. A lack of access to medical care makes the problem worse and can potentially lead to foot infections, frostbite… or worse.

In 2004, Dr. Conti teamed up with his father, Stephen Conti, MD, a foot and ankle surgeon in Pittsburgh, to start Our Hearts to Your Soles to provide much-needed shoes, socks and foot exams to the homeless. The organization has grown and over the past 15 years has given out more than 50,000 pairs of shoes to those in need at annual events across the country.

For this year’s shoe giveaway in New York, Dr. Conti partnered with Mainchance, which serves a diverse homeless population of single adults. The center administrators identified and contacted in advance customers who would benefit from new shoes, socks and foot exams, and 105 people showed up.

Luckily no one needed emergency pedicure but lots of much needed shoes. “The men and women we saw were very grateful. We’ve seen several people get their feet trapped in shoes that were two or three sizes too small,” said Dr. Conti. “One person was absolutely thrilled because they were wearing a size 15 shoe, but he said no one is ever his size.”

For Kayla Collins, a patient care assistant at HSS who volunteered, the event took place near her home. “When I was younger, my mom had to take us to an animal shelter, so I personally understand what this event means for people who are less fortunate,” she explained. “It’s a humbling experience and every opportunity I have I try to give back because you never know when you might find yourself in a similar situation.”

Several orthopedic surgeons who were doing their fellowship training at HSS also helped. “I am fortunate to work in a teaching hospital where I serve foot and ankle surgery fellows and residents,” said Dr. Conti. “This event gave them a different patient care experience and allowed them to practice different skills. like adjusting shoes. As surgeons, we don’t do this every day, but in a short amount of time we’ve helped men and women feel better protected from the elements and avoided potential foot and ankle ailments.”

This year, Red Wing Shoes generously donated 2,500 well-made, sturdy pairs of shoes to the nationwide events. The footwear is ideal for the many recipients who work outdoors.

Our Hearts to Your Soles only accepts donations of new shoes because, as Dr. Conti explains, “Besides the protection, the gift of brand new shoes enormously boosts the recipient’s self-esteem.”

About HSS

HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. The focus is on the Hospital for Special Surgery, ranked #1 in Orthopedics nationally (13th consecutive year), #3 in Rheumatology by US News & World Report (2022-2023), and the top pediatric orthopedic hospital in New York. NJ and CT according to US News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals list (2022-2023). In a Newsweek survey of medical professionals in more than 20 countries, HSS is ranked number one in the world of orthopedics for the third consecutive year (2023). Founded in 1863, the hospital has the lowest orthopedic complication and readmission rates and one of the lowest infection rates in the nation. HSS was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service five consecutive years from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. HSS is a subsidiary of Weill Cornell Medical College and has a principal campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut, and the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State and Florida. In addition to patient care, HSS is a leader in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 employees focused on advancing musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Innovation Institute works to realize the potential of new medicines, therapeutics and devices. HSS Education Institute is a trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal knowledge and research for physicians, nurses, healthcare professionals, academic students and consumers in more than 145 countries. The institution works with medical centers and other organizations to improve the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely available nationally and internationally. www.hss.edu.

From our hearts to your soles

The mission of Our Hearts to Your Soles is to provide shoes and free foot exams to the less fortunate in the United States. The nonprofit organization believes that good foot health is an essential part of everyday life and important to an overall health maintenance program. For the past 15 years, the organization has distributed more than 50,000 pairs of shoes to those in need at annual events across the country.

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