“Dr. McKanna understands my daughter and she listens to him,” said Davis, noting her daughter has ADHD and autism. “The GlenOaks surgical nurses were friendly and helpful. This was a blessing in a challenging year (with COVID-19).”

April 23, 2021

Podiatrist goes the extra mile to help patient walk pain-free

Alex McKanna, DPM, pursued podiatry so he could help patients overcome problems. To Aja Brown, a 12-year-old patient with chronic, painful foot and leg problems, he is more than a doctor – he’s a “superhero” she told him.

Brown and her mother, Zita Davis, linked up with Dr. McKanna at the AMITA Health Mission at Home clinic in September 2020 in Glendale Heights, Ill. More than 150 AMITA associates and providers volunteered to staff the clinic – including Dr. McKanna.


Zita heard about the clinic offering free medical care and services to the community. The home health worker and daughter, who don’t have health insurance, planned to attend for a free back-to-school physical and flu shots.


“We went over to talk with Dr. McKanna,” Davis said. “He wanted to see Aja walk without shoes. He said, ‘I see the problem.’ He asked if we could come into his office that week for X-rays. I started to cry. I told him we didn’t have any money or health insurance. He said not to worry – we’d figure something out.”


It turned out Brown had severely flat feet, joint and bone deformities causing pain. She also had shin splints and tendonitis in her ankles. She would need surgery to correct the problem. He would start with her left foot.



Davis couldn’t be happier and more grateful for surgery – not once, but twice.
Davis couldn’t be happier and more grateful for surgery – not once, but twice.

Dr. McKanna is on staff at two Adventist medical centers -- AMITA Health Adventist Medical Centers GlenOaks in Glendale Heights, and AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center Bolingbrook.

“The mom was ecstatic but concerned she couldn’t afford surgery,” Dr. McKanna said. “I told her I’m not going to charge you and Bruce Christian (GlenOaks President and CEO) said the medical center will donate the surgery. I wanted to make sure Aja was happy and healthy, and walking without pain.”


The single mom couldn’t believe the news. “I started crying,” Davis said. “I thank God for them.”


In October, Dr. McKanna performed the 1.5-hour reconstructive surgery on Brown’s foot – lengthening the outside of the foot and muscles, and using bone grafts to create a larger arch. With physical therapy, Brown went from a knee scooter to boot to walking in a regular shoe in seven weeks.


In February, Dr. McKanna performed surgery on her right foot. By March, she was wearing regular shoes on both sides without pain. Brown headed back to in-person school in April after being remote during the pandemic.


“I feel great about the outcome – this is exactly why I went into podiatry,” Dr. McKanna said. “I’ve wanted to be a podiatrist since age 12. I love my job and helping people.”


Davis couldn’t be happier and more grateful for surgery – not once, but twice. “I’m very pleased with the outcome. Aja would go to the gym and couldn’t do what other kids were doing, I felt so bad. It was heartbreaking,” she said.


“The opportunity for AMITA associates and physicians, from all over the system, to come together to serve our most vulnerable is a true blessing,” said Heather Hoffman, regional director, Clinical Mission Integration, AMITA Health. “The clinic offered physical therapy, labs, pharmacy, spiritual care and counseling, and connected patients to local community services, such as our local food pantries. The demand to volunteer always exceeds the number of positions needed and we have a waiting list of AMITA staff wanting to help. This truly is a testament to our values, and, ultimately, allows us to serve our mission outside the walls of our facilities.”


Hoffman said the fourth Mission-at-Home clinic will be held on June 19 in Glendale Heights.


Julie Busch, associate vice president, Internal Communications, AMITA Health