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Hospital Dress Code
The new dress code at Rapid City Regional Hospital will allow staff to wear Crocs, but they must be solid, without holes, like the pair at right, and the restraining band must be around the heel rather than over the arch, like the pair at left. (Steve McEnroe/Journal staff )

A new employee dress code that bans blue jeans and pierced nose jewelry goes into effect today at Rapid City Regional Hospital, but it also changed the types of shoes Leanne VanDeStouwe stocks at her Rapid City shoe store.

"We stopped selling them last summer when we first heard about it," VanDeStouwe said about a ban on Beach Crocs, which she used to sell at Rudolph's Shoes.

Molded plastic clogs with holes in them were popular among nurses and other hospital employees but will now be banned as unsafe footwear at Regional Health facilities under the new policy. "We sold lots of them, but the new dress code is not a real surprise to me. It is not safe in the nursing profession to have an open shoe," VanDeStouwe said.

Dr. James Keegan, vice president of clinical quality at Regional, agrees with her.

Molded plastic clogs with holes on the top pose an infection control issue if blood or other body fluids come into contact with a cut on an employee's foot, he said.

"This is truly a safety issue. When you deal with a patient who is hemorrhaging blood downward onto your feet, if that patient has HIV or hepatitis, you've protected yourself from infection just by having the right kind of shoe on," Keegan said. "You want to provide the best impervious barrier you can."

Molded plastic shoes without holes do meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations and are still allowed under the new dress code. But other things, including blue jeans or denim clothing of any type, have also been banned under the newly revised dress code.

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"No more Blue Jean Fridays," Tim Sughrue, Regional's chief executive officer, said. The new policy has "nothing to do with wanting to be the fashion police," but rather with correcting a drift toward a too-casual appearance in the work environment that might make patients and the public uncomfortable, Sughrue said.

"We want the public to recognize the folks who care for them as professionals, so they should look like professionals," he said.

Also among the prohibited items are jewelry worn in any facial piercings, colorful nail polish on the nursing floors and multiple ear piercings. The new policy has been under development for nearly a year. There were no angry complaints about it during the four forums attended by about 250 employees Wednesday, Sughrue said.

Debi White has been a registered nurse at Regional since 1988. She will gladly make the transition to molded plastic clogs without holes in them, she said.

"Smoking generated a lot more acrimony," Sughrue said. Regional instituted a tobacco-free campus policy in May, and, like that ban, the new dress code is one more attempt to leave a positive impression on patients and visitors, he said.

Contact Mary Garrigan at 394-8410 or mary.garrigan@rapidcityjournal.com

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