Arthur E. Helfand, DPM
To some degree, our involvement in the fields of public health, gerontology, and geriatrics are greatly related.
Much of the information has been published over the last sixty years and document not only our involvement, but our leadership as a profession in these two disciplines to protect the publics that we serve.
An article, Podogeriatrics: A Historical Review, was published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, Vol. 64, Number 5, May 1974 and was developed by members of the profession who helped develop our participation from 1918 through 1974. A second segment was included in text published by the American Public Health Association in 2006 Titled, Public Health and Podiatric Medicine – Second Edition, in 2006 and edited by Arthur E. Helfand, DPM. In particular, Chapter 17, Aging and Selected Chronic Diseases, traced the subject through publication.
During World War II, most of our practitioner served without commission in the army but were commissioned in the United States Navy and United States Air Force with distinction. Im 1956, the first Podiatrist received his direct commission in the United States Army. These practices still continue today.
In 1965 Medicare was enacted by the US Congress and became the law of the land under President Johnson. It was a major law that brought our Profession into the main stream of health care and opened up coverage for care provide by doctors of Podiatric Medicine, within the individual state practice act. Section 1961r of the Act, also added Podiatrists to the definition of “physicians” for the purpose of service coverage and payment.
A prior element to enhance our status was the formation of the Selden Commission and its Report in 1961, to examine and restructure our educational system. Our training programs eventually became more compatible with and supportive to the educational content of Medicine, Dentistry, and Osteopathic Medicine. To that development, the Health Manpower Act of 1963 provided the funding for new construction and special projects that permitted the profession to grow and expand post-doctoral education to include residencies and fellowships, consistent with other professions.
During the same time frame, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals issued Bulletin #44, that granted medical staff membership and surgical privileges to members of our profession.
Members of our profession began to join the American Public Health Association in 1955 and to elected to Fellowship. In 1972, the APHA approved the creation and the Podiatric Health Section as an equal partner in Public Health. This was followed by the creation of the American Board of Podiatric Public Health and the appointment of a Special Commission on Podiatric Medicine and Public Health and a Report to structure our profession as an equal partner in the Public Health of the United States.
In 1976, the United States Congress revised Federal Legislation to elevate Podiatric Medicine to Professional status in the Department Veterans Affairs and permit the proper expansion of care services and the development of residencies, within the system to provide appropriate and proper foot and related care to American Veterans.
Public Health and Aging have been intertwined in the profession and has permitted our practitioners to raise the level of prevention and care for the American public.