BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Source: FAU College Of Nursing) — Among the many health issues that negatively impact the homeless population, issues related to their feet are ever present and often left untreated resulting in significant health risks and decreased quality of life. At a recent event to address this health issue, a team of 24 nursing students and several faculty helped 175 homeless individuals with foot washing, foot health assessments and basic foot care, including nail care.
For individuals with more serious foot health care needs as identified by the nursing students, Dr. Christopher Pappas, a podiatrist from Holy Cross Hospital, was present with two residents and a physician’s assistant. In addition to the foot care, the homeless who attended received the gift of socks, a new pair of shoes and a hot meal.
Participants included Drs. Andra Opalinski and Susan Dyess, from Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, and Dr. Nancy Stein, from FAU’s Department of Anthropology, as well as volunteers from Christ Church United Methodist in Fort Lauderdale, Holy Cross Hospital and the Broward Sherriff’s Office Homeless Outreach Team.
“While an event focusing on foot issues for the homeless may seem unusual, caring for one’s feet while experiencing homelessness is a significant health challenge,” said Andra Opalinski, assistant professor in the College of Nursing. “Along with Valerie Fox, co-organizer from Holy Cross Hospital, we were humbled to bring together the community partners to assist this group of individuals with an often neglected health challenge.”
Underscoring FAU’s community health mission and focus on caring, FAU nursing students involved in this event were able to gain hands-on experience while caring for a vulnerable population with which many have not previously worked. This creative approach to addressing the health needs of those in this community health setting provided students with a true understanding of the complexities of healthcare needs of individuals experiencing homelessness. “We were able to provide the underserved in our community with food, in addition to having their feet washed and assessed with no rush in a non-judgmental and respectful way,” said Maxine Higgs, RN, BSN, Advanced Holistic Nursing master’s degree student.
Making the event possible, Holy Cross Hospital donated financial assistance for the foot care supplies. Bombas donated 240 pairs of socks, and individuals from Christ Church United Methodist and Holy Cross Hospital donated new shoes at drop off locations and provided a large team of volunteer support to care for those experiencing homelessness.
FAU’s College of Nursing is internationally known for its commitment to nursing as a discipline focused on nurturing the wholeness of persons and the environment through Caring. The College advances caring knowledge through education, practice, research and scholarship to transform care locally, nationally and globally. Currently, the College of Nursing offers bachelor’s, master’s, DNP and Ph.D. degree programs with approximately 1,600 nursing students enrolled in its programs. For more information, visit www.nursing.fau.edu.