CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Roper St. Francis Hospital is rolling out a new limb amputation prevention program within the hospital set to streamline care for patients while aiming to save more lives and limbs.

Roper’s amputation prevention program is a dedicated service offering advanced wound care, diabetes management, hyperbaric chambers, and more. The program is designed to reach more patients while providing necessary care to avoid amputation.

“The south is the diabetes belt but really the Lowcountry is the buckle,” says Dr. Mary Hanley, Medical Director of the Limb Amputation Prevention Program.

Doctors say diabetes is becoming a generational epidemic, plaguing patients across the area while impacting younger and younger people. For some, it’s a matter of life or death.

“Diabetes is very insidious, it’s a sneaky disease,” says Dr. Hanley. “You think you’re fine, you think you don’t need your insulin, and then the next thing you know you stub your toe and your toe needs to be amputated.”

Roper St. Francis rolled out the program on Thursday, offering full-service care for patients at risk of amputation, largely due to diabetes or other infectious diseases. Doctors hope the proactive approach will help save a limb.

“We have wound care specialists, we have hyperbaric medicine specialists, vascular surgeons, infectious disease, orthotics, and prosthetists all coming together under one roof and one clinic,” says Dr. Hanley.

The limb amputation prevention program offers weekly or daily treatment for patients with the luxury of a full-service hospital steps away. Even with the expanded care, doctors say 70 to 80 percent of diabetes patients with major amputations above or below the knee won’t live longer than five years after surgery, making it critical to take action.

“The challenge for patients is that it’s a lifestyle change for them, they have to take their wound much more seriously than they have before,” says Matthew Gamble, Manager of the hospital’s Outpatient Wound and Hyperbaric Department.

Dr. Hanley, who is tasked with leading the new program, says it’s a vision of her’s four years in the works that’s only getting started.

“This is literally an emergency that we need to take care of and fix and treat,” Says Dr. Hanley. “We are truly saving limbs and lives.”

The program is up and running but doctors say they’re looking at more options to expand care for patients.