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Sue McKenna, a nurse in O’Leary, has been working full-tilt to catch up with over 100 of her regular foot care clients.

“It’s best if I get to my clients about once every four to six weeks,” Ms McKenna said, adding she was restricted from her work for about eight weeks due to COVID-19.

She’s now on a mission to catch up.

On top of her usual clientele, Ms McKenna said her phone has been ringing off the hook with new clients.

According to Health PEI some nurses who work in long-term care facilities provide foot care outside the facility, on their own time. These nurses were asked to restrict their work to one facility but as restrictions are easing, if they choose to work in private homes, they are asked to be tested for COVID-19 regularly.

Ms McKenna said a number of these nurses’ clients have reached out to her.

Another local foot care nurse has taken some time off for personal reasons and Ms McKenna expects this is another reason for the increase in foot care requests.

Ms McKenna travels through western PEI to care for clients in Tignish, O’Leary and Alberton, among other small communities.

She helps her clients care for common foot problems such as corns, calluses, bunions, fungal infections or even simply long and growing toenails.

Some of Ms McKenna’s clients need her help because of physical mobility issues.

“Some can’t bend down to reach their feet,” she said.

It’s especially important for clients with diabetes to receive professional foot care; a small scrape or cut could lead to more serious health problems, in extreme cases, as severe as losing a toe.

Adding pressure to Ms McKenna’s mission to catch up with those who need care as soon as possible, is the potential of a second wave of COVID-19.

“It’s my priority to get through that list right now and hopefully everything will carry on as usual after that. If I don’t get to them I’m afraid that could lead to much bigger issues, especially if I wind up out of commission for a few months again.”

Laura Vale is a foot care nurse who sees a number of clients from eastern PEI at a clinic in Charlottetown.

She has been getting calls from new clients for some of the same reasons. As of mid-June she had a month and a half long wait list.

Between 50 and 60 people rely on foot care provided at a clinic at the Montague Legion. The clinic hasn’t been operational since restrictions came into play mid-to-late-March.

The organizer, Maxine Evans, explained this option is relatively affordable.

“It usually costs about $25 which covers the wages for the nurses and the supplies needed.”

This clinic has been closed because of safety concerns surrounding COVID-19 but Ms Evans confirmed on Monday, it is set to reopen July 7th.

The two nurses at the Legion clinic, neither of whom work at a long-term care facility, will provide the service weekly rather than bi-weekly so they can catch up with their client’s needs.

Similarly, the Catholic Women’s League provides a clinic out of St Paul’s Church in Summerside. This is run by volunteers and the space is provided free. Again, the only costs are the nurses’ wages and supplies.

Organizer, Rosaleen Mahoney said upwards of 250 people are served and they represent a wide-spread region including some clients from as far east as Crapaud and as far west as Alberton.

“The problem is the nurses all work in the manors,” said Ms Mahoney, who isn’t sure when the clinic will reopen.

She has reached out to the Chief Public Health Office to reconfirm updated rules regarding nurses working in long-term care homes.

Ms Mahoney is also waiting to confirm which protocols will be needed to allow the clinic to resume while ensuring volunteer, client and staff’s safety.

She said usually about 18 volunteers help run the clinic and she hopes that number will remain steady when the clinic can reopen.

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