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How Podiatrist Dr. Ronald Agee Helps Patients Get Back on Their Feet

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Dr. Ronald Agee's AG Podiatry, has been a community staple in Birmingham’s West End neighborhood for more than three decades. (Amarr Croskey, For The Birmingham Times)

By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson | The Birmingham Times

Even though he didn’t know it at the time, Dr. Ronald Agee worked a job while young that prepared him for a career he never expected.

“[My siblings and I] had an uncle who had a shoe shop by Legion Field, and, when we were small, he made us work in the shop. That kind of kept us out of trouble,” he recalled. “I think it was the way God gifted me to do what it is that I’m still doing today because I wouldn’t have known that when I was a little boy coming up—that I want to be a foot doctor.”

AG Podiatry, with its main office located at 1529 Bessemer Road, has been a community staple in Birmingham’s West End neighborhood for more than three decades.

“When I started looking in the Birmingham area at the time that I started my practice, the densest part of Birmingham was the western area. Things just kind of fell in place for me. With the location I’m currently at, we’ve been there for 33 years, and it’s been good,” said Agee, who added that he’s been at podiatry for so long that “I watch people walking that don’t know I’m looking, and I’m diagnosing the problem … without realizing I’m doing it.”

He also has found a way to assist his patients before they reach his office. For instance, the parking lot is located near the building’s front door, which is crucial for people who can’t walk far distances.

“I had the opportunity to have a hospital-based practice, but in a situation where you have foot problems, you don’t want to do a lot of walking and going up and down steps,” he said.

A Family Affair

Agee, the fifth of nine brothers and sisters, grew up with his family in Birmingham in the Fountain Heights neighborhood. He remembers that his uncle wanted to “guide” him, so he provided the young Agee something to do at the shoe shop.

“I gained that talent of being a cobbler at an early age. Even before we could go play baseball on the weekend, we had to be at that shoe shop,” said Agee, recalling the experience he gained shining, selling, and resoling shoes.

His family was “tight knit with a lot of love, and we all looked out for one another,” he said.

Agee graduated from Birmingham’s John Herbert Phillips High School in 1976 and then attended Talladega College, where he earned a degree in chemistry in 1980 and also met his wife, to whom he has been married for 40 years. He then went on to the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine, in Cleveland, Ohio, and completed his surgical residency at Norfolk Community Hospital, in Norfolk, Virginia.

Foundational Advice

Proper foot care is the key to overall health, said the doctor of podiatric medicine, a medical professional which diagnoses and treats conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg,” according to the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine.

“Your feet carry [the weight of] your entire body,” said Agee. “So, if your feet hurt, you don’t want to get up and do a whole lot. … You don’t want to get up and cook for yourself, … you don’t want to walk, [but] you need [physical] activity to promote heart health.”

The podiatrist stresses to his patients the importance of being mindful of things they’re doing to cause problems with their feet, such as corns, calluses, blisters, bunions, and ingrown toenails.

He also mentioned another foot problem, plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of a thick band of tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes, for which treatment could involve surgical repair or palliative care, methods of alleviating pain and discomfort without surgery.

The best prescription Agee offers for daily foot care is a simple preventative remedy—wearing the appropriate shoe for the appropriate activity.

“[Each foot has] 26 bones and multiple ligaments, … [so] if you’re not wearing the right type of shoe, it can lead to a lot of problems,” he said.

Problems can also stem from the fact that “we inherit our feet from mom and dad,” he added. “Certain foot problems can develop just because they are passed down from generation to generation.”

Agee is quick to warn against walking barefoot because of the danger of “picking up some bloodborne pathogen on the ground,” and he strictly advises against soaking feet in scalding hot Epsom salt water.

“Your feet may feel good at the time, but there may be some lasting consequences if you have poor circulation,” said Agee, adding that soaking feet in cool or room temperature water is just fine.

Dr. Ronald Agee’s son, R. David Agee II, right, joined the practice at AG Podiatry in 2019 as a podiatric physician and surgeon. (Amarr Croskey, For The Birmingham Times))

People First

As for the future of his practice, Agee wants to continue to provide, along with his team of five employees, great service to his clients, all while teaching them the importance of foot health.

Recognizing that each pair of feet brings a unique story, Agee said he likes to treat his patients the way he’d want to be treated and wants to “dispel the myth that going to the podiatrist is going to be painful.”

Of all the success stories he’s had during his more than three decades of treating feet, two stand out: one patient was a young man for whom he helped remedy a severe foot fungus “that his mother could not stand,” and the other was a young man who had an ingrown toenail that was “one of the worst” he’d seen.

Speaking about his practice, Agee said, “It’s not about the money. It’s about serving the community well and the joy of seeing people get better.”

Agee is a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association and the Alabama Podiatric Medical Association, and he was named Podiatrist of the Year in 1999 by the Consumer Business Review.

Agee has three children: two daughters—one is a dentist in Tucson, Arizona, and one is a librarian in Germany—and a son, R. David Agee II, a graduate of the University of Alabama, Alabama State University, and Western University of Health Sciences College of Podiatric Medicine, who joined the practice at AG Podiatry in 2019 as a podiatric physician and surgeon.

AG Podiatry has three office locations in Alabama: Birmingham, Montgomery, and Eufaula. Agee is authorized to practice at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, University of Alabama (UAB) Medical West Hospital, the Princeton Baptist Medical Center Outpatient Surgical Center, and Lakeview Community Hospital in Eufaula.

Agee proudly said he has lived by one biblical principal in life and while working in his practice.

“There’s a [Bible] passage that I tell my children and other people likewise—Matthew 6:33 [King James Version]: ‘… Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.’”

“[When I was young], I didn’t realize what that meant, other than that was kind of how they brought us up and how they raised us,” Aggie said. “But now I understand it to be, if you keep God first, most times things will open up to you through his blessing … and people [will be a] blessing to you in the process.”

To learn more about AG Podiatry, visit www.agpodiatry.com.