Dr. Philip Gianfortune greets his next patient with an easy grin. Today, his office is a preschool classroom which is set up with five medical stations on the 2nd floor of St. Vincent de Paul Center.
He motions the guest to an empty chair across from two podiatry students who eagerly await their next appointment. It’s not a normal visit to the foot doctor for many of the patients Dr. Gianfortune will see today. The people who walk through the door are homeless guests at MSV’s Luncheon and Resource Fair for the Homeless, many of whom don’t have regular access to foot care or general medical services.
For 12 years, Dr. Gianfortune (right) has brought clinicians and students to MSV's Annual Resource Fair to provide free foot and nail care to homeless guests.
Dr. Gianfortune is a familiar presence at St. Vincent de Paul Center during the annual event. He has provided much-needed foot and nail care for the last 12 years, bringing his podiatry students from Rosalind Franklin University to volunteer to serve hundreds of homeless guests.
This year, Dr. Gianfortune is retiring from teaching, practicing, and running the foot care section at the Resource Fair. Thankfully, Dr. Gianfortune's colleague and long-time volunteer at the event, Dr. Neil Horsley, will keep the legacy alive when he assumes leadership of the group next year. “You will be in good hands with Dr. Horsley,” Dr. Gianfortune said, “but I will really miss you all at MSV.”
Dr. Gianfortune, a Chicago native, has always been compelled to give back to his community. While in private practice, he began to help train the next generation of podiatrists. “I started teaching part-time at the Podiatry school in 1989. At that time, they had just started a community service program. Once a week, I would take 4 students to a community center on the west side and we would offer free treatment to the residents of the area.”
This year, students from Rosalind Franklin University helped 68 homeless patients who suffered from foot pain by offering free podiatric services.
In 2000, Dr. Gianfortune decided to make volunteering a bigger priority. “I expanded the community service program to cover 12 sites in Cook and Lake County where our clinicians and students provide free podiatric services.” In 2007, Dr. Gianfortune began his partnership with MSV at the Luncheon and Resource Fair for the Homeless. Dr. Gianfortune is currently the Senior Director of Educational Support and Programming at Rosalind Franklin University's Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, where he has encouraged thousands to use their skills to help those in need.
He said of MSV’s annual event, “We do a lot of events and this one is the most organized. It also helps a lot of people. When we come to Marillac St. Vincent, I know the students are going to get a lot of experience and the patients are always very grateful. My students really love it!”
Marillac St. Vincent is thankful to have found a wonderful partner in Dr. Gianfortune and Rosalind Franklin University for the past 12 years. Their generous commitment to providing foot and nail care to those in need has had an enormous impact and we cannot wait to continue this work with Dr. Horsely next year. Best of luck in your future endeavors, Dr. Gianfortune!
Interested in volunteering with MSV? Would you like to partner with us for the next event? We would love to have you!