Shivani connected to Wounds Canada because she’s frustrated with the systemic barriers her patients face in the Ontario health-care system, many of whom are low-income seniors on a fixed budget. Working as a chiropodist in several clinics in Brampton, Mississauga and Burlington, as well as at a mobile foot clinic in the GTA for those unable to access clinics, the majority of Shivani’s patients are high-risk elderly folks with diabetes.
The single most important factor Shivani identifies in maintaining healthy feet for her patients is proper footwear—yet many of her patients can’t afford it. Shivani has witnessed people with a previously good quality of life have their lives upended after developing diabetic foot ulcers or fissures and entering a health system that didn’t provide them with the care they needed. What’s heartbreaking is that many of the amputations patients eventually face could be prevented through proper wound care treatment and management.
Put yourself in Shivani’s shoes—she works tirelessly to provide often-vulnerable patients with the care they need and deserve, only to be confronted with the harsh reality that they often can’t afford the basic necessities. Many items that are essential to the foot health of her clients, such as custom orthotics, orthopedic shoes/diabetic footwear, emollients to help dry skin and topical antifungal meds are not covered by the Ontario Trillium Fund. And these are only the patients she can treat—many potential patients in need are unable to gain access to clinics because they can’t afford the initial consultation fee or the system requires them to be recommended by a family physician. Similarly, at-home consultations are not covered by the public health system, so if a patient is unable to make it to a clinic and can’t afford to pay out of pocket, they’re left out in the cold.
With our province struggling to manage COVID-19 and our seniors at the greatest risk of all, there’s an increased chance of patients in need slipping through the cracks. Shivani is regularly asked by the patients themselves to act as an advocate on their behalf. Her patients want to receive holistic and patient-centred care so they can live their best lives, but they also want a light shone on their struggles so the system can be improved overall.
Shivani has a message to other health-care providers and stakeholders: “We need to stand united and move as one force and not let our differences destroy us. We need to create awareness and provide funding for essential podiatric services, medical devices and medication.”