In the foot care nursing community there has been debate regarding what care is considered essential or non-essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Provinces such as British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan have taken very strong stances in regards to shutting down nursing foot care in their provinces, Ontario has only put recommendations that if it is not an emergency, that they recommend suspending care. WeRPN also put out a memo to members on March 23rd (with a clarification March 24th) recommending nurses suspend foot care. As a recommendation only, we are to use our own nursing judgement in this decision. Kirsten’s Foot Care has chosen to suspend care during this time.

While the projection of this pandemic looks as though we may need to social distance for much longer than we originally anticipated, it does bring “what if’s” into the picture. We know many of our clients can’t go several months without care, and potentially ‘urgent’ cases could be brought to our attention. As a nurse, I wonder what we can do for our clients if that happens.

The biggest problem we will face is PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). This includes N95 masks, gowns, face shields gloves – the things we need to wear to protect ourselves in these scenarios. There is a GLOBAL CRISIS for PPE. There isn’t enough to go around. I know when I went to put in an order for masks at the beginning of February, all the suppliers that I can purchase from (as I’m not a large company or hospital) were completely sold out. To try and get N95’s or gowns now? There’s no where to buy them. If we did have some, we would be donating them to the hospital.

So when we consider the possibilities for urgent calls that may or may not come up as time progresses, we really don’t know what to do. As nurses we will want to help, but at the same time we don’t have the proper PPE to wear at the visit in order to be able to provide care to our clients. With the pandemic, we can’t go
in with our little white aprons or procedure masks as usual, we would need to ‘gown up’ in full gear. Full gear that we just don’t have.

In my own case, my husband’s work is considered essential. He comes into contact with random people coming into his workplace daily. They don’t have masks or anything to protect themselves. Although I haven’t left my house, he could bring something home from work and not realize. If I were to then see clients, I could then unknowingly spread COVID-19 to a client. Or for nurse Tetiana, she works at a Long Term Care facility as well. She wouldn’t be able to provide foot care as then she could potentially and unknowingly bring COVID-19 into the facility from a foot care client that didn’t know they had it.

We are considering all our options right now for those potential urgent calls. Although we don’t have answers right now, we hope to have some soon. Unfortunately we are taking things week by week, and we don’t know what to expect as time progresses. This is an uncertain time for everyone. Although we don’t have all the answers, and that this situation is inconvenient for those wanting care, just know every decision we’re making is to keep everyone safe.

Kirsten Hansen, RPN
Sole-proprietor, Kirsten’s Foot Care