Feet are the Foundation of a Healthy Body
She says, “I consider myself to be a very friendly doctor. I treat everybody as if they were my own family. I just love to provide excellent care. I want all my patients to feel like they’re cared for, that they’re not just another number—that I’m here to help them, not just with the physical part, but also with the emotional things. The psychological part of medicine attracts me a lot, and I’m comprehensive in that aspect. I’m also very passionate about serving the underserved. I have volunteered in a lot of mission trips throughout the world and I also love to do it here locally, as well. That’s who I am.”
Paternina’s career arc began at an early age. She relates, “Ever since I was a little girl, I always had a fascination for the medical field. My great-grandmother from my mom’s side was a midwife, and she was also always very interested in medicine. When I was in high school, I found a job at a podiatrist’s office, so I did a little receptionist work, medical assistant work, and I loved it. Eventually, I went to college and became a pre-med student. Then I decided to stay within the foot and ankle world and ended up going to the School of Podiatric Medicine, and that’s how it all started. To fast-forward, I ended up buying the practice of the doctor that hired me when I was in high school, so it came full circle.”
A graduate of Temple University, Paternina explains, “What we do is four years of college undergrad, and then four years of the special schooling that is called the School of Podiatric Medicine. We take the initial two years along with the allopathic students that is just regular medicine, but we have a focus already within the foot and ankle world. Some people pursue fellowships. I didn’t. I got in the three-year residency program, where I got a lot of training in many complex pathologies, including reconstructive surgery, wound care, you name it. A little bit of everything.” She belongs to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and many other professional associations.
Foot and Ankle Premier Specialists treats sports medicine injuries from heel pain and plantar fasciitis to tendinitis and fractures. “I see wound care. I see a lot of pediatric pathology, including flatfoot deformity, all kinds of pediatric congenital diseases, as well,” notes Paternina. “I also practice geriatric foot care. I’m an all-inclusive practice. We’re very integral. We see everything that has to do with the foot and ankle, from dermatological issues to orthopedic issues to vascular problems, and neurological—diabetes, neuroma, nail fungus, ingrown toenails, all that.”
Throughout her career, Paternina has been inspired by her mentor, Dr. Vito Petruzzella. “He was the doctor that hired me when I was in high school. Even though he’s retired, he’s still my mentor, guiding me through everything, through the hoops of figuring out what to do, through medical school, through now figuring out the business side of things. He has inspired me quite a bit.”
She travels extensively and is disturbed by the inequity of our American healthcare system. She says, “There’s a huge difference. So many people I see close to me that are one illness away from bankruptcy. It’s so sad—people who actually need the care. It’s insane how it has become so financially driven that it has taken away the human part of health care.”
The doctor recommends annual checkups. “My patients come in and say, ‘I’ve had this black toenail for a while.’ I tell them, ‘You have to be careful.” For her pediatric patients, she advises, “If you see that your child is having difficulty or complaining of fatigue; you see that they’re not interested in running, bring them in so we can check it out. We’re the experts. We’re the specialists on the foot and ankle, so we would be able to identify whether there is something beyond the normal. Of course, there are diseases like diabetes and aging that you can’t help, but most of it we can just take good care of and not have a problem. The earlier we address it, the better.”
Paternina counsels, “I educate my patients a lot about prevention of injuries, not just addressing the immediate problem, but how to prevent it so it doesn’t reoccur in the future. If you’re having pain or difficulty walking or doing the things that you would like to do, don’t wait, because a lot of the conditions are treated easier when caught earlier than later. I always tell my patients it’s a lot easier to kick out acute inflammation than chronic inflammation. Once you get into the chronic state, your body forgets about the fact that the foot is hurting, so it no longer sends all of the things that it has to send. The earlier we treat the condition, the better off you are and the faster we can get rid of the pain.”Foot and Ankle Premier Specialists is located at 70 Hudson St., in Hoboken; and 24W. 57th St., Ste. 509, in Manhattan, NY. For appointments and more information, call 201-659-5222 or visit FootAndAnklePS.com.