News from the Backstretch Employee Service Team

December 2014

A. B.E.S.T client receiving a flu vaccine

"Healthcare matters to some of us some of the time, but public health matters to all of us all the time" (C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the U.S.)

        One of the most valuable services which B.E.S.T. provides all backstretch workers is free vaccinations against the flu, hepatitis A and B, Tdap and more.  In 2014, B.E.S.T. inoculated 140 workers with the flu vaccine.  In response to the ebola crisis, B.E.S.T. has provided flu vaccinations to all who work on the track because the early stages of the flu and ebola can be similar and consequently its important to be able to "rule-out" the flu when examining a sick individual.

        B.E.S.T's vaccination program not only protects the individual backstretch worker but also the community who live outside of the racetrack as well.

        Happy holidays to all our treasured friends and supporters.  As always, we welcome your comments/suggestions and encourage you to make them by emailing me at:paul@bestbackstretch.com 
B.E.S.T.'s Saratoga Program Director, Nancy Underwood (second from left
below) attended a "build" ceremony for the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.  Nancy serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties. As a part of this role, she was helpful in securing two donated Saratoga Springs build sites, one location slated to break ground in the Spring of 2015.  On this site, Habitat's team of volunteers will construct a home for a Saratoga Springs resident.  This project is possible as part of a collaboration with the city of Saratoga Springs, Rebuilding Together Saratoga and the Saratoga Builders Association.  B.E.S.T. is eager to involve backstretch workers in the all volunteer effort to construct this home for a deserving family.  We salute Nancy for her meaningful involvement in the Capital region community.

Nancy Underwood (second from left), celebrates at the newest build site, the collaboration of local agencies committed to build a new Saratoga Springs home, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity with local community leaders including Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen (third from

Dr. Mark Buthorn treating a backstretch worker in the B.E.S.T. clinic
Dr. Mark Buthorn

It is well known that hotwalkers, grooms, assistant trainers and exercise riders on the backstretch  of Aqueduct, Belmont or Saratoga have physically demanding jobs which require these workers to routinely care for their bodies.  A lesser known impact of backstretch work is the toll it exacts on the feet of the workers.  Since 2012, B.E.S.T. has been exceedingly grateful for the pro-bono services of Podiatrists, (Dr. Marc D. Ginsburg DPM in Saratoga and Dr. Mark Buthorn in Belmont) who have worked tirelessly and effectively to both prevent and treat foot disorders in our workers.  In this issue of the newsletter. B.E.S.T. begins its focus on podiatric solutions for backstretch workers with an interview of Dr. Mark Buthorn.

B.E.S.T.:  Why did you decide to work with the backstretch workers of Aqueduct and Belmont?

Dr. Buthorn:  I've been active with community groups for most of my life, starting with the boyscouts and later the Kiwanis and other similar organizations.  Twenty years ago, I became invoiced in the sport of horse racing and loved everything about it; the smell of the hay, the majesty of the horses.  I also became aware over time of the conditions of the backstretch workers and of how much help they needed.  I was inspired by how much Mary Lou Whitney has helped the backstretch workers and now that I'm older and able to help, I want to, I want to give back.

B.E.S.T.  How long have you been working for B.E.S.T.?

Dr. Buthorn:  In November of 2014, I began my fourth year of doing podiatry at B.E.S.T.

B.E.S.T.:  What sorts of problems do you treat at B.E.S.T.?

Dr. Buthorn:  I see three major problems; first, callus problems which are caused by the nature of the work which the workers do every day which is exacerbated by their inadequate shoes,  Second is nails.  Their work with horses leads to damage of the toe nails; they can become thick and damaged and be quite painful.  These nail problems can also lead to small skin ulcerations.  As a result we've done dozens of nail surgeries.  The third area is planter fascitis, which among the workers, is primarily caused by poor shoe wear.

B.E.S.T.:  What are you most proud of related to your work at B.E.S.T.?

Dr. Buthorn: Today we just finished working with one worker after two months of weekly visits.  He is diabetic and had two ulcerations on his foot,  He was unable to work and unable to receive a vitally needed pacemaker for his heart because of the infections in his foot.  He couldn't work and had much pain. We healed the ulcers and gave him new shoes and socks - just today, I wrote him a letter, permitting him to resume work.  He will now be able to have his pacemaker installed.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home