Editorial: Monday mix on healthy feet; NHS students; poetry prize

  • Tricia Zoly, a licensed practical nurse with FootCare by Nurses, works on the feet of Leverett resident Jenny Marshall during a foot clinic at the town hall on Jan. 8. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Don’t take your feet for granted — they deserve tender, loving care, especially as they age.

With that in mind, FootCare by Nurses, based in Greenfield, offers clinics for elders at councils on aging and senior centers in Hampshire and Franklin counties. Diane Roeder, a registered nurse in Northampton, offers a similar service in Florence, Chesterfield and Westhampton.

During the clinics, nurses clip nails, file away dead skin, scrub calluses, check for problems such as splinters, apply hydrating oils, and massage the feet.

“Basically, there is this huge problem out there of people not being able to take care of their own feet,” says Kate Clayton-Jones, who started FootCare by Nurses in 2016. Though Clayton-Jones and her colleagues primarily focus on feet, they also pay attention to a person’s overall health. “When we do foot care, we are very holistic,” she says. “We remember that there are people attached to the feet.”

FootCare by Nurses’ 30-minute treatments generally cost between $20 and $50 and often are subsidized by the town hosting the clinic. The six nurses also are available to make home visits for $75. Roeder charges $30 for her sessions.

Clayton-Jones changed careers after losing her job as a financial adviser when the stock market crashed in 2007. She earned a nursing degree at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and then worked in nursing homes and hospitals, where she saw the need for foot care.

In addition to normal aging, illnesses or surgeries can get in the way of people taking care of their own feet. “I saw some people with bilateral hip replacements and their toenails had literally turned into claws,” Clayton-Jones says.

Jenny Marshall, 84, of Leverett, is among the patients who take advantage of the twice-monthly clinics at the senior center in Town Hall. She has congestive heart failure and diabetes, which can cause a buildup of fluid in the feet, resulting in skin that is more fragile and susceptible to infection.

Since Marshall began in August getting care for her feet, their painful swelling has been reduced, making it more comfortable for her to walk. “It’s just wonderful,” she says. “I feel like I am walking on clouds after I come here.”

Whether they’re carrying you to the clouds or staying on the ground, it’s important to keep your feet healthy.

Information about FootCare by Nurses is available online at footcarebynurses.net or by phone at 413-367-8369. Roeder can be reached at 413-374-0457 or droeder@gmail.com.

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We are impressed with the work done by students in a new social entrepreneurship class at Northampton High School. It should have a lasting impact at the school and in the larger community.

The class during this academic year created an interactive virtual reality video — featuring student actors — designed to teach young people about domestic abuse. The students used software that allows viewers to choose among options as the plot unfolds. The choices determine the outcome of the story. The video also includes facts about domestic violence, to help inform viewers’ decisions.

The students also organized the Pioneer Valley Community Outreach Association with the goal of encouraging more community-based social justice projects.

The class is taught by Jeromie Whalen, the high school technology educator for four years. Rather than using homework and tests to grade students, they are evaluated on progress made toward common goals and their ability to learn from mistakes. It’s about “taking initiative, setting goals, managing tasks and timelines,” he says.

That’s a good formula for teaching students critical thinking skills that will be useful no matter what career path they choose.

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Congratulations to Ocean Vuong, of Florence, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, for winning the T.S. Eliot Prize, the United Kingdom’s most prestigious poetry award.

Vuong was honored last week for his first collection, “Night Sky with Exit Wounds,” which has been widely acclaimed. Bill Herbert, chairman of the judges’ panel, said, “ ‘Night Sky with Exit Wounds’ deals with the aftermath of war and migration over three generations. It is a compellingly assured debut, the definitive arrival of a significant voice.”

We expect this is the beginning of a distinguished career for Vuong, whose family immigrated to the United State from Vietnam when he was 2. He is now working on a novel.