PARRY SOUND – Seniors Sidney Pretty and his wife Sylvia have been receiving foot care from a Parry Sound clinic for at least 20 years.
Province cuts foot care funds.
For the duo, who can’t reach their feet because of health problems, the service is essential approximately every six weeks.
Pretty went to his regular clinic two weeks ago to schedule his next appointment, only to discover the province would no longer fund the care.
Medical Associates, in Parry Sound, received word about the funding-cut through a notification from Ministry of Health and Long Term Care dated November 18, said Maxine Boudreault, administrator for the clinic.
“This was a billable service for specific procedures done by our trained staff person when provided to patients whose need for treatment met the criteria outlined by MOHLTC,” she said this week. “This has changed and we are no longer being paid for services provided by our foot care service provider and it applies to all delegated service providers in Ontario.”
Boudreault said staff at the clinic are directing patients inquiring about foot care to private service providers in the community who could offer the care - but it’s not free.
“The public is always concerned when they can no longer have a service that they once had access to; particularly when it comes to health care,” she said.
Nail salon or spa
Now, Pretty and his wife will have to go to a nail salon or spa for simple services including having their toenails cut, having their feet filed and moisturized and corn treatment. Having a private company perform the tasks could run the couple anywhere from $20 to $40 per person, per visit.
Pretty said he wasn’t given any notice prior to the funding cut, to warn him the services would be cut off.
Both Pretty and his wife suffer from back pain, and Pretty suffers pain in his hips and shoulders due to a car accident in a parking lot a couple of years ago.
Sylvia suffers from Parkinson’s disease, asthma and diabetes – making foot care particularly important. If her feet become infected, it could mean losing a foot. Neither have the ability to perform their own foot care.
At 83 years of age, Pretty said without the care his feet become sore in his shoes.
“Your nails start to push into your shoes, and they become painful and uncomfortable,” he said, noting he isn’t one to complain about a petty issue. “Something has got to be done.”
Workers with the Victoria Order of Nurses and The Friends each visit Pretty and his wife at their home twice a week to help them with ordinary tasks like bathing and light housework.
Pretty said the workers aren’t allowed to perform the foot care.
According to Joanne Woodward Fraser, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the Ministry does fund a community support service called “foot care”.
“The service arranges for a person trained in basic or advanced foot care in a congregate setting,” she said.
Fraser said the Ministry made it clear in April 2008 that basic nail clipping wasn’t allowed to go through OHIP, but many clinics continued to bill the province for the service.
“OHIP does cover the extensive removal of very thickened nails,” she said. “It has to be rendered by a physician.”
Right now, Pretty said he and his wife receive pensions totaling $1,300 per month and pay a $1,200 mortgage on their home and bills.
Until his accident, Pretty drove a taxi in Parry Sound to supplement the couple’s income.
“Then (the government) throws this at us,” he said. “There is no way we can afford $40 to $50 per month. They can throw away money in other situations...but they can’t look after us seniors.”
Pretty said he’s spoken to others who are angry the service isn’t available.
“There’s so many people affected. We can’t do without it,” he said.