Pittsburgh Mercy Health System has become healthcares latest fashion victim, putting its stylishly clad foot in its mouth when it banned all shoes with open toes or holes from patient-care areas at the hospital.
Somehow, that edict backfired into a perceived ban on Crocs, the spongy, clog-type shoes that have taken that bastion of fashionhospital clinical areasby storm.
Like individualized scrubs, Crocs have become quite the fashion statement in hospitals. Perhaps it is because all Crocs brand shoes feature Crocs proprietary closed-cell resin, Croslite, which represents a substantial innovation in footwear, according to the Niwot, Colo.-based companys marketing literature. The Croslite material enables us to produce soft, comfortable, lightweight, superior-gripping, nonmarking and odor-resistant shoes. Perfect for stylish hospital workers, no?
Well, no. Mercy was just trying to follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines when it recently decreed that healthcare workers should wear shoes that protect them from blood or body fluid splatters as well as needle sticks, says Kristen Bell, Mercys vice president of human resources. We just decided not to allow any shoes with any openings in them. That ruled out the most popular style of Crocs, which are generously ventilated with pencil-sized holes. Bell says the ban blew out of proportion when a local newspaper ran a story with the headline, Mercy Hospital goes on a Crocs hunt.
I didnt even know what a Croc was before Christmas last year, Bell says. I think it was a slow news day in Pittsburgh.
Fortunately, Crocs is on top of this issue and is working with the hospital to dispel any confusion, says Tia Mattson, a Crocs spokeswoman. Among its more than 50 styles, the company has developed one specifically for nurses and medical staff, she says.