Health Center Celebrates 10,000 Foot Clinic visit

By: Boone County Health Center

Boone County Health Center is celebrating their 10,000th foot clinic visit this week! Gayla Oakley, RN, FAACVPR, the Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation, had a vision for this life-changing service and it became a reality with the addition of the Rudman Rehabilitation Center over 13 years ago. Now it has grown to serve over 100 patients each month.

Arlene Wessel, the clinics 10,000th patient remarked how good her feet feel. She jokingly says, “I think my feet have lost weight.” COVID put a pause on appointments for a period of time but the clinic is back up and running. “I was so happy when I could come back, I felt like a kid in a candy store. The staff does such a great job and are so friendly,” said Wessel.

“People find their way to our foot clinic for a variety of reasons. Some have trouble reaching their toes due to back pain, arthritis, knee pain, hip pain, or flexibility. Others can’t see well enough for footcare, especially if they wear bifocals. Some people have such thick toenails they aren’t strong enough to cut through them,” said Oakley.

A visit to the foot clinic starts with patients checking in to get their blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and temperature. Then they are shown to a whirlpool chair where the nurse checks pulses and sensation in their feet and looks with a skilled eye for anything abnormal.

This is followed by a nice soak in warm, circulating water. The nurse trims the nails, files calluses, gently massages the feet and applies lotion if the patient wants it. The whole process takes 30 to 45 minutes.

“Our patients walk out of our foot clinic smiling and often say, ‘It just feels like heaven. I want to dance!’” said Certified Footcare Nurse Janet Feik, RN. “Our patients have the right idea. We should all take better care of our feet. After all, they are a very important part of our day. If your feet feel good, you are more likely to stay active and have fewer infections which leads to overall better health.”

Roughly 80% of patients who are seen at Boone County Health Center Foot Clinic have a diagnosis of diabetes and many also have peripheral neuropathy or other common disease complications. Medicare covers a visit every 60 days for patients who have a qualifying diagnosis, but patients who don’t qualify often choose to pay out-of-pocket for this wonderful service.

“We just have the best patients. It makes me feel so good to see how happy they are when we’re done,” said Feik.

Feik began seeing patients in the foot clinic 13 years ago when it began. Brenda Pelster joined her three years ago. Both attended specialized foot care training at the University of Wisconsin Eau-Clair. This intensive program included several days of classroom and hands-on training followed by a certification test.

Feik and Pelster see patients from the seven local counties in Boone County Health Center’s service area as well as patients who come from as far away as Fremont and Tilden. Word travels fast when a service is this good.

“People hear about our foot clinic from their family and friends and want to come. Others are referred by their doctor. Not all hospitals offer this service,” said Pelster.

There is currently a waiting list for the foot clinic, and patients must schedule a visit a few months in advance. However, the new Outpatient Clinic Expansion will offer enough space to add an additional whirlpool chair, allowing Feik and Pelster to see even more patients each month.

To schedule a visit, patients can talk to their doctor or call 402-395-3156.