At least once in our lives we have consciously walked the wards of a health worker’s life. We have walked through them to pick up our grandfather’s tests, or to go for that check-up that frightened us a little. We have experienced them on our skin or through a screen. There were those who went through a residency together with JD and Turk, those who fell in love with Meredith and Derek, and those who solved even the most unlikely cases together with Gregory and his medical team. In short, it is not a world that belongs to us completely, but one that has entered the collective imagination.
But everyday life is very different. Wearing a lab coat every day and walking those aseptic, bright and sometimes endless corridors has little romance or adrenaline when you have to deal with death and illness.
We only realised the difficulties of working in a hospital relatively recently, with the advent of a global pandemic that distanced us all, locking us in our homes or, worse, in a hospital room, waiting for the normality we were used to return. But life went on, despite the mask marks on our faces, and we slowly began to forget everything, from the distance of our loved ones to the smell of disinfectants and the frenzy typical of a hospital. Yet there are those who still go back to those rooms, day after day. Because the struggle of the health workers has never stopped.
A spectrum of colours for health workers
If we close our eyes and think of a healthcare professional, we think of a person in a long white coat with pens in the breast pocket, a stethoscope around his neck, a two-piece uniform of different colours (they change according to the task) but above all white clogs on his feet. The collective imagination, aided by the aisles of every shoe shop, still has some correspondence with reality, but it is since the 1980s that we can see brightly coloured shoes in the aisles.
Between the birth of the Internet, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the advent of Madonna and the Chernobyl tragedy, in a historical context that revolutionised life as it had been known, the hospital sector also saw a considerable improvement in the quality of life of its workers. In 1984, a patent was filed for a unique product, which was then presented and launched at an international trade fair where it soon became a success. Calzuro had arrived.
Nurses and operators could finally say goodbye to the footwear they had been using until then in favour of a sanitary clog that was sterilisable, antistatic, comfortable and above all available in different colours. An individual medical device that finally met the needs of hospital staff, offering safety against pathogenic germs and electrical equipment introduced into hospitals, comfort and support for the foot, an essential element for those who had to spend several hours on their feet, but also allowing them to give their appearance a personal touch.
The characteristics of footwear for healthcare workers
Healthcare footwear has greatly improved the quality of life of doctors, nurses and staff on duty in hospitals by providing PPE, a choice of clogs, slippers and even closed-toe shoes, to prevent accidents and injuries thanks to specific features. Let’s see them together.
Healthcare personnel spend most of their time on their feet or in motion, which is why shoes are essential for physical well-being. Footwear made of EVA plastic is often chosen because it is ultra-light and malleable, and adapts to the shape of the foot to prevent corns, foot blisters and back and joint pain.
• Breathability and Waterproofness
In addition to providing lightness, a perforated model allows better air circulation around the foot. Breathability is not a secondary factor as it prevents heat or moisture from accumulating, preventing possible injuries and health problems. The limited access of liquids in the shoes also prevents the penetration of pathogenic bacteria, blood and infected body fluids.
As with clothing, sanitary devices must be sterile. Since it was not possible to change the shoes every time they came in, it was decided to opt for a product that could be washed and sterilised frequently in an autoclave. Sanitary clogs are therefore the perfect choice because they are resistant to high washing temperatures and are durable.
The rubber from which the footwear is made not only has to meet the necessary sterility requirements, but is also designed for those who have developed allergies to latex proteins, preventing rashes and allergic irritations.
• Suitable Support
Sturdy construction and durable uppers are essential to provide proper leg and lumbar support and to safeguard foot health. Some shoes are equipped with an insole that helps distribute weight and absorb shocks when walking on hard surfaces.
• Slip and fall reduction
The sanitary footwear sole is designed to provide traction even on slippery surfaces, preventing ruinous falls and consequent injuries that would prevent the proper performance of one’s work.
Coloured clogs are also among the possible choices available. Depending on the department in which you work, it might be the best choice not only to express your personality, but to bring colour and cheer to the wards where it is most needed (think paediatric).
The best models for health personnel
We have already mentioned Calzuro as a healthcare footwear brand that revolutionised the industry, but there are many other good brands. You all know Scholl, famous as the ‘face’ of the classic nurses’ clog: its classic design, perfect white with ventilation holes on the upper, open at the heel is known worldwide. There is also Crocs, whose plastic slippers have made even the most fashion-averse speak out, but which can be used in any context. Yes, even in a hospital!
Another brand that often makes people discuss its aesthetics is Birkenstock. We recently talked about it following the success of the Barbie film and we are returning to it because the sandal manufacturer has produced a line dedicated to professionals: Birkenstock Boston. Its strong point? Comfort. In fact, the heart of the Boston line lies in the anatomical footbed with a flexible cork and latex core that gives lightness and comfort to the feet from the first to the last fitting.
Moreover, the line can boast different models made of different materials and colours depending on one’s style or context of use. We can find the metallic version with decorations to match a streetwear style, the classic natural leather sabot with a felt upper, or the EVA model, which is more suited to the healthcare context and consists of a mould of this sterile and autoclavable plastic material.
Finally, we have Rebel, Calzuro’s proposal. A product made and designed exclusively for healthcare workers, but with such an attractive design that it can be used in other social contexts. Flexible, anatomical and permeable to water, this sandal is equipped with an antistatic gusset and massaging pads that promote blood microcirculation in the feet, giving support and maximum comfort even after many hours on your feet. It is also made with a latex-free thermo-techno polymer compound that inhibits the proliferation of fungi and bacteria, autoclavable and 100% made in Italy! A true product designed for professionals!
Every day the wards of our hospitals are trodden by many different people. Patients, visitors, but above all doctors, nurses and health workers. A swarming of footsteps with countless different noises creates a unique melody of life. At their feet we can find different and colourful solutions to a life on the ward, because even as we forget the invisible efforts of a world that sustains the health of our society, there are companies that continue to study the working conditions of healthcare professionals to enable them to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
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