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VOL. 127 | NO. 232 | Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Local Organizations Help Homeless Community

By MICHAEL WADDELL

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Baptist Operation Outreach and Soles4Souls offered assistance to those less fortunate, providing health care services, food and clothing to the homeless, at annual events held during the Thanksgiving holiday.

A Baptist College of Health Sciences nursing student talks to a patient about his cholesterol and blood pressure numbers at the 28th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner for the Homeless and Hungry held last week.

(Photo Courtesy of Kim Hancock)

The Baptist Operation Outreach van participated in the 28th annual Thanksgiving Dinner for the Homeless and Hungry at the Memphis Cook Convention Center last week. The event gave the homeless a traditional Thanksgiving meal, access to health care services, and free long-distance calling for the day to call family members.

“We gave care to 191 patients, with 30 given medicine onsite by physicians and pharmacists and referred for follow-up appointments with our free clinic,” said Claire Hicks, Baptist corporate communications PR coordinator.

Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. provided 70 volunteers on Thanksgiving Day, including three physicians and one nurse practitioner giving primary care along with students from Baptist College of Health Sciences and employees from Baptist’s 14 area hospitals who volunteered doing blood pressure and cholesterol screenings.

“The city and county have joined forces to tackle the homeless issue in our community. Caring for the homeless is not something you should do just around the holidays, it should be year-round,” said Cynthia Allen, Baptist Operation Outreach community relations manager. “We see a lot of women and children who are impacted by homelessness due to the economy. People have had loss of jobs and loss of homes, so what was once considered a traditional homeless person really looks like you or me now.”

In January, Community Alliance for the Homeless conducted a survey in the city of Memphis, and the Baptist Operation Outreach van served 33 percent of the homeless population at no cost, serving as the largest provider for the homeless in Shelby County.

“Our homeless patients are not utilizing the ER. When they have a need to be seen by a doctor, they know they can come to our Baptist Operation Outreach clinic to receive their ongoing care,” said Allen, who explained that this year they treated patients for asthma, diabetes, hypertension and blood pressure issues, psychiatric problems, and even stab wounds that had gone untreated. “At Baptist Operation Outreach, we provide primary acute care, medications, transportation to and from medical appointments, diagnostic procedures, and even surgery, in some cases.”

The Baptist Operation Outreach van, through a partnership with Christ Community Church, operates four days each week and treats roughly 1,400 patients per year for more than 3,300 doctors’ visits.

The primary address for the van is 69 N. Cleveland St. in Midtown Memphis, and it is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for women and children. The mobile unit is also open on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Memphis Union Mission, 383 Poplar Ave.

Next up, Baptist Operation Outreach will hold a holiday event Dec. 19 at the clinic on North Cleveland. Those who attend will be served a hot holiday meal and receive a backpack with hygiene products as well as warm clothing and other necessities that will be useful in the winter months.

Soles4Souls also held its annual Thanksgiving event Nov. 19 at the Memphis Union Mission Opportunity Center to provide shoes and socks, as well as foot and nail care, to the community’s homeless.

“This year’s event, which served more than 100 homeless people, was a great success,” said Chad Gilbert, director of marketing and public relations at Campbell Clinic, which began participating in the event five years ago. “In addition, one of Campbell Clinic’s physicians, Dr. David Richardson, brought his 4-year-old son with him, as well as his father, Dr. Greer Richardson, another orthopedic physician specializing in the foot and ankle. It was a multi-generational moment of giving back to the community.”

Support for this year’s event came from doctors and other health care professionals, including team members from Campbell Clinic, Snell’s Orthotics-Prosthetics and Dignity U Wear.

“We had seven representatives staffing the event and providing foot care this year,” Gilbert said. “We also provide indigent care in other capacities throughout the year privately and through various official affiliations.”

Soles4Souls is part of the Our Hearts to Your Soles program, a nonprofit founded in 2004 with a mission to provide the less fortunate people across the United States with shoes and free foot examinations. Supporters of the program believe that proper foot health is an essential part of everyday life and important to an overall health maintenance program.

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