For Dr. Robert Kosofsky, breaking the ice is an important part of his job.
Self-described as a chatty yet straightforward doctor, Kosofsky makes sure that residents of New Community Extended Care Facility feel comfortable the moment he walks in, because, after all, he’s a podiatrist.
Most folks aren’t too eager to have another person examine and handle their feet.
With residents like Crystal McCoy, Kosofsky will strike up a light-hearted conversation by discussing the cartoon show that she is watching.
Kosofsky, who goes by “Dr. K” around the nursing home, strategically schedules his visits with Extended Care residents in the morning hours. That way, he notes, they are more likely to be in a good mood after a night of rest and still lying down in their bed, without shoes on.
“I like to see him, we talk about cartoons,” McCoy, 74, said. “I recognize him by his shoes,” she added with a smile.
Facility Administrator Robert Smolin said that “the residents love Dr. K and the nurses appreciate his caring attitude, his ability to handle difficult podiatric issues, and his impeccable infection control practices,” ever since Kosofsky started providing services at Extended Care earlier this year. He is employed by the podiatric practice Global HealthCare Partners.
He sees residents referred by a nurse every nine weeks (on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays) to address issues such as discomfort caused by calluses or ingrown toenails and checks for broken skin and signs of infection.
Sometimes foot pain can result from specific conditions such as peripheral vascular disease, where arteries narrow and one’s extremities can get infected. Other times, the cause may be neuropathy, where nerves are damaged and can cause weakness, numbness and pain.
“Bodies wear out, bodies change,” Kosofsky said. “You just want their feet to feel good.”
Initially a student of marine biology, Kosofsky became a podiatrist and practiced for years in the Midwest before settling in New Jersey. He grew up in Long Island.
A lover of food and travel, Kosofsky has visited far-flung destinations like Belgium and Hong Kong solely to enjoy the cuisine. He said that getting people to talk about cooking or a favorite dish often helps them open up.
“You have to develop a rapport with patients. The angrier they are, the nicer you have to be,” he said.