Gary Tetz

Maybe I just need to stop reading McKnight’s. That’s the bottom line. Because every time I flip through its pages, whether virtually or in print, I seem to discover researchers have found another horrible threat to my health and safety that I had never considered before. So I’m currently in active pursuit of a nice, McKnight’s-free stretch of sand where I can dig a hole in which to bury my head.

For instance, just this morning I stumbled across a McKnight’s article about how the nasty superbug Clostridium difficile, affectionately known as C. diff, can hitch a ride into or out of a facility on the soles of my shoes.

In other words, while I’ve been dutifully humming happy birthday, scrubbing my hands until the flesh hangs in bloody shreds, washing my groceries and mail, and sterilizing every home surface with blasts of bleach shot from an industrial-strength pressure washer, my footwear has been quietly trying to kill me. 

Back in the spring of 2020, a small study published by the CDC raised a similar alarming specter by reporting that floors and shoe soles had the highest concentrations of COVID-19 in samples taken at a hospital facility in Wuhan, China. All of which makes me suspect that if I swabbed my shoes right now, in addition to finding C. diff and the coronavirus, I’d probably discover whole colonies of MRSA, e.coli, cancer, polio, gout, gingivitis and leprosy clinging to the soles, along with lethal levels of vaccine misinformation, conspiracy theories and partisan acrimony. 

Clearly, the root of every challenge we face as a nation and world can be traced to the soles of our feet, but what’s the answer? While I know products exist that use ultraviolet light to neutralize the coronavirus and other infectious diseases on shoes, I personally favor more novel and futuristic solutions.

For instance, couldn’t we leverage air hockey technology to have facility visitors and staff levitate and float harmlessly from room to room? Or couldn’t they be lowered from the ceiling like Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible,” prevented from ever touching the floor with a high-tech system of cables, pulleys and grappling hooks? 

These are reasonable and desperately needed innovations, and I just pray that the appropriate funding is included in the next tranche of federal dollars earmarked for the long-term care profession. I’ll be meeting Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on his houseboat this very evening to win his crucial support. Barefoot, of course. 

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the recent APEX 2020 Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.