Preventative care

Foot, nail clinic aims to nip problems in the bud

MARQUETTE — Foot care is an important part of regular health and hygiene routines. But as people age, it can become more difficult to take care of their feet due to more limited flexibility or mobility. When a person can’t regularly take care of their feet, ingrown toenails, dry skin, callouses, bunions or infections may develop.

To address this, U.P. Home Health & Hospice is offering regular foot care clinics at the Advanced Center for Orthopedics in Marquette, UP Health System-Bell and the Ishpeming Senior Center.

“It’s just like an annual physical,” said Shelle Olsen, a registered nurse and community services manager at U.P. Home Health & Hospice. “It’s all about preventative care.”

Those who make an appointment for the foot care clinic receive care from Stephanie Zertuche, a licensed nail technician at U.P. Home Health & Hospice with over 30 years of experience.

Zertuche can help relieve foot pain and discomfort, as she trims nails, takes care of stubborn callouses and addresses dry skin.

Stephanie Zertuche, a licensed nail technician at U.P. Home Health & Hospice, uses a dremel tool to clip toenails at a foot care clinic held at Marquette’s Advanced Center for Orthopedics in the Upper Peninsula Medical Center. Zertuche offers foot care by appointment Wednesdays at the Advanced Center for Orthopedics and also holds clinics at UP Health System - Bell and the Ishpeming Senior Center. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

She emphasized that foot care is an important part of overall health care and that regularly checking and caring for feet — even if they may seem fine — can help individuals avoid potential pain or complications.

“Foot care should also be part of your health care checkup,” Zertuche said. “Just because your feet don’t hurt doesn’t mean that you should not have them checked up.”

Marquette resident George Dubord, who recently attended a foot care clinic with Zertuche, was glad to have the service provided, he said.

“It’s really nice to have,” Dubord said. “I can’t take care of my own nails anymore; my nails are so thick and my age is keeping me from getting at my nails the way I’d like to.”

Beyond taking care of a person’s feet and nails, Zertuche also assesses a person’s foot for potential injury or infection during the clinic.

“If something major is going on, she can detect it early and have them get referred to the doctor while they’re here,” Olsen said.

If a referral is needed for additional care, Zertuche can refer the patient to Dr. Nathan Loewen or Dr. Bradley Benson, who are doctors of podiatric medicine at the Advanced Center for Orthopedics, organizers said.

The partnership between U.P. Home Health & Hospice and the Advanced Center for Orthopedics to offer the foot care clinic began recently because the two agencies recognized a need in the community for the service, Loewen said.

“Thanks to U.P. Home Health & Hospice, we are able to provide a full foot care service to the community,” Loewen said.

Zertuche’s kind manner and expertise have made many people comfortable going to her for foot care since the partnership between the two agencies started, Loewen said.

“Patients have been overwhelmingly happy with her, so I feel very confident sending patients to her because she’s made everyone quite happy,” Loewen said.

Zertuche also shared several general foot care tips for the public. For one, she said, dry feet can benefit from an application of natural oil, or even soaking in it.

“I think it’s better to use oil as opposed to lotion because oil penetrates better,” Zertuche said.

It’s also important to keep feet clean and dry and wear breathable cotton socks, she said. Inspecting between the toes for dry or damaged skin and moisturizing the area can also be helpful, she added.

Zertuche also emphasized the importance of regularly trimming toenails, as well as soaking dry heels and using a foot file to remove dead skin.

Overall, Zertuche, Loewen and Olsen said they strongly recommend regularly checking feet for wounds or infection as these problems can become serious if left untreated.

“Especially if you have diabetes or peripheral vascular disease, then it is important to have your feet checked on an annual basis to check for wounds and prevent amputations,” Loewen said.

The appointments are roughly 20 minutes long and are $20. Zertuche recommends foot care roughly every six weeks.

The clinics at the Advanced Center for Orthopedics in Marquette are offered each Wednesday.

The foot care clinics offered at UPHS-Bell’s Advanced Center for Orthopedics location in Ishpeming are held each Monday. Call 906-204-7003 for an appointment at either location.

The foot care clinics are also offered every first and second Friday at the Ishpeming Senior Center. For an appointment there, call the senior center at 906-485-5527.

For more information on U.P. Home Health & Hospice, visit www.uphomehealth.org or call 906-225-4545.