September 6, 2022

New York, NY, September 6, 2022 – U.S. Foot & Ankle Specialists, LLC (“USFAS”), a portfolio company of NMS Capital (“NMS”), announced today that it has acquired Next Step Foot and Ankle Centers (“Next Step”), which operates 11 clinics in Missouri and Illinois, and Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists (“Cortez”), which operates three clinics in Florida.

Founded by Dr. Lindsay Barth in 1996, Next Step provides patients across the greater St. Louis area with attentive and highly individualized care for acute and chronic lower extremity conditions, as well as routine foot and ankle treatment. The practice’s licensed podiatrists offer a comprehensive range of services, including surgery, sports injury treatment and prevention, diabetic foot care, and custom orthotics and bracing. With 11 office locations, the practice reaches patients in St. Louis and throughout the Metro East region.

In addition to Dr. Barth, who sees patients at the Alton, South County, and Bridgeton offices, the practice’s doctors include Dr. Douglas Basso (Alton and Sauget), Dr. Ellen Colgan (St. Peters and Bridgeton), Dr. Christina Hawthorne (Bridgeton, South County and St. Peters), Dr. Jacob Lamb (Alton and South County), Dr. Christie Lynch (Watson, Festus, and South County), Dr. Richard Norlin (Bridgeton, South County, and Watson), Dr. Krista Nelson (Alton and Edwardsville), Dr. Mia Thouvenot (Highland, Sauget, and Pinckneyville), Dr. Daniel Thouvenot (Waterloo and O’Fallon), and Dr. Sam Bernard (South County).

“Our whole team is excited to be joining USFAS and benefiting from the support it provides to the practices in its network,” said Dr. Barth, President and Founder of Next Step. “As a patient-centered practice, our goal is always to ensure everyone in our care receives personalized treatment for any issues they may be experiencing. Joining USFAS will enable our practice to continue to treat our patients at the highest possible level.”

Founded over 50 years ago by Dr. Saul Ladd and Dr. Alan Katz and home to Florida’s first state-licensed podiatric surgical center, Cortez has practices in Bradenton, University Park, and Ellenton and serves patients throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties. With eight doctors and a full staff, the practice is equipped to provide its patients with high-quality and attentive diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical treatment. Its service offerings include diabetic foot care, sports injury treatment, heel and ankle pain treatment, and foot and ankle surgery.

Dr. Richard Berkun, Cortez’s Chief Executive Officer, has been with the practice since 1981 and formerly served as President of the Manasota Podiatric Medical Society. Dr. Robert Katz joined the practice in 1991, and previously served as President of the Florida Podiatric Medical Association. Dr. Philip Baldinger, who has been with the practice since 1995, is a former regional president of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Dr. Garrett Harte joined in 1998, and is a past chair of Manatee Memorial Hospital’s credentials committee. More recent additions include Drs. Michelle Emery, Shawniece Boss, Trinh Nguyen and Bethany Badell who have joined as the practice has continued to grow, bringing with them familiarity with the latest advances in foot and ankle surgery and patient care.

“The providers at Cortez are honored to be joining the USFAS network,” said Dr. Berkun. “We’re committed to providing our patients with the personalized treatment they need to heal from acute and chronic foot and ankle conditions, and we’re excited to see our patients benefit from this partnership with USFAS.”

“Both Next Step and Cortez bring a breadth and depth of experience in the podiatry space, and represent major partnerships for our platform,” said Cotton Hawes, Chief Executive Officer at USFAS. “Next Step has been a leader in lower extremity care and treatment for over a quarter century, while Cortez is a pioneering podiatric practice that has aided countless Floridians since the 1970s. We’re so pleased to be welcoming both practices into our network and look forward to assisting these groups as they continue to build on their long histories of patient commitment and service.”

With this partnership, Next Step and Cortez will benefit from USFAS’ extensive administrative and support services, which include top-of-the-line information technology, a dedicated clinical compliance team, electronic medical records, payor credentialing and contracting, revenue cycle management, human resources, finance and accounting, and business development.

About U.S. Foot & Ankle Specialists

USFAS is a leading provider of podiatric services providing a full range of specialty services for the advanced treatment of foot and lower extremity conditions. Headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, USFAS provides services through a growing network of more than 100 offices in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, Florida, and Washington, D.C., and over 150 Board Certified and Board Qualified podiatrists. USFAS is an affiliate of Foot & Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic and NMS Capital, with plans to expand nationally. For additional information on USFAS, visit the company’s website at

About NMS Capital

Founded in 2010, NMS Capital is an experienced private equity firm managing assets in excess of $1.4 billion. Since inception, NMS has partnered with management teams in over 100 investments and follow-on acquisitions across defined investment themes within the Business Services and Healthcare Services industries. The firm’s principal strategy is to create long-term value by providing strategic and operational resources to growth-oriented companies led by founders or experienced management teams. NMS has a track record of successfully building industry leading lower middle market companies in defensible and scalable end markets by accelerating organic and acquisition-driven growth. For additional information on NMS, please visit the firm’s website at Follow NMS Capital on

For Further Information

Brett Richey
Executive Chairman
US Foot & Ankle Specialists
(434) 373-0720