Duane Huntwork’s medical issues began about 10 years ago when he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
Despite aggressive treatments with medications and visits to many doctors and health-care facilities, Huntwork’s condition worsened.
“And here came the wound on his foot that wouldn’t heal,” said Margaret Huntwork, Duane’s wife. “He was ultimately diagnosed with osteomyelitis, which is an infection that gets into the bone. This all didn’t just happen overnight.”
A possible cure for Duane’s infection was amputation of his right leg above or below the knee. But Gulraiz Cheema, M.D., stepped in and realized he could save Duane’s heel.
“This was a huge relief,” Margaret said. ”I didn’t want Duane to wake up and find that his leg was gone.”
Instead, Dr. Cheema amputated the front part of Duane’s foot in July 2014. Today, the 77-year-old Great Bend man gets along well with a cane.
Dr. Cheema is based at the Hays Orthopedic Institute at Hays Medical Center but sees patients at St. Rose Health Center at least once a month. HaysMed and Centura Health co-own St. Rose; Dr. Cheema is one of many specialists at St. Rose because of this partnership.
“We really appreciate Dr. Cheema,” Margaret said. “He is really good about talking with us and explaining the medical jargon. He has a good bedside manner and listens to the family. We tell him often how thankful we are that he saved Duane’s leg.”
Another Great Bend man, Loren Phillips, is relieved he went to see Dr. Cheema after another physician told him he needed a new knee and a new hip. Phillips heard that news and sought a second opinion.
Dr. Cheema looked at Phillips’ x-rays, which were immediately available because of St. Rose’s electronic medical records system. He also performed a clinical exam.
Phillips needed only a new hip – not a new knee too.
“The hip replacement was performed on a Tuesday last year at HaysMed and I was home on Friday,” Phillips recalled. “If there is such a thing as an awesome hospital stay, then I had an awesome hospital stay. I have nothing but good things to say about HaysMed.”
His post-op recovery involved five weeks of physical therapy in Great Bend, instead of the usual six.
“I wasn’t even using a cane at the end of the fifth week,” Phillips recalled. “I can even get on the floor. People may laugh when they watch me get back up, but I can do it.”
Dr. Cheema said he enjoys his time at St. Rose because “there is a culture of helping people. There is a history here. It is nice that people seem pleased we are coming to Great Bend. It’s good to feel welcome.”
Dr. Cheema earned his medical degree in Bahawalpur, Pakistan. His clinical experience and fellowships include: joint replacement at the Methodist Hospital at Texas Medical Center in Houston; hand and upper extremity surgery, as well as foot and ankle surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences at Little Rock; and orthopedic trauma at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
“I prepared myself so that I could help the community in a variety of ways,” Dr. Cheema said. “I also treat sports injuries. We are seeing more foot and ankle problems, some of which no one else in the region is trained for. I am trained in total ankle-replacement surgery and ready to provide the benefits of this procedure to the Kansas community.”
St. Rose specializes in primary care, prevention and wellness. Services include St. Rose Family Medicine, Convenient Care Walk-in Clinic, Great Bend Internists, imaging, Special Nursing Services, one-day surgical procedures, Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice and a comprehensive Specialty Clinic. St. Rose is co-owned by Hays Medical Center and Centura Health.