Homeless people in Wilmington, Delaware, are now on the path to better health after an event December 5 at the Sunday Breakfast Mission.
The national Our Hearts to Your Soles program annually helps improve foot health for many people who receive vital services locally at the Sunday Breakfast Mission shelter. They otherwise would face the coming winter with poorly shod feet — some contending with painful and deteriorating foot and ankle problems.
“There are three major problems that homeless have health-wise,” said Paul Kupcha, M.D., section chief of Foot and Ankle Surgery at ChristianaCare. “They are respiratory issues, hypertension and foot care.” Foot care is often neglected, he said.
“Here we are able to address some of the foot health issues right on the spot and put the people we see on the right track for foot and ankle health.”
This year, in a repeat act of kindness, he and colleague Katherine Perscky, D.P.M., of Delaware Orthopaedic Specialists, helped screen over 100 patients for potentially dangerous foot and ankle problems.
Red Wing Shoes donated 100 pairs of new shoes and 200 pairs of socks distributed to adults and children at the event.
Foot health provides a clue to a person’s overall health, said Dr. Kupcha, an orthopaedic surgeon and local coordinator for the event. Examples include joint stiffness, which can indicate arthritis; tingling and numbness, which can be connected to diabetes; and swelling, which can indicate high blood pressure or diseases of the heart and kidneys.
“When these doctors give attention to something as critical as feet, they are putting them on a path to better health,” said Rev. Tom Laymon, director of the Sunday Breakfast Mission. “These providers are an absolute godsend to our population and, to us, they are absolute angels.”
John Rowlands, M.D., an interventional spine specialist who volunteered at the event this year and last, said, “it’s important because we are able to give back to a community in critical need. It’s a small effort by us just to serve them but it feels like it makes a big impact.”