Boston Foot-Care Clinic Treats Feet of the Homeless
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Living on the streets can be hazardous to the feet. Frostbite and other potentially deadly infections are not uncommon. Producer Rachel Gotbaum visited one place where homeless people can get some help with their feet. A foot soak, a check up and clean socks. It's called the Foot Room at the St. Francis House Shelter in downtown Boston.
RACHEL GOTBAUM reporting:
Sir what is your name?
Mr. SHAWN WILLIAMS(ph) (Boston Homeless Man): Shawn Williams.
GOTBAUM: Why did you come here?
Mr. WILLIAMS: I have blisters on my feet from shoes being too small, and I heard this was, like, the best place for homeless people to come to get their feet checked out.
GOTBAUM: You're soaking right now. How does it feel?
Mr. WILLIAMS: It's very good. They did a good job with the temperature of the water. My feet are very cozy right now.
GOTBAUM: How long have you been soaking?
Mr. WILLIAMS: I've been here for about three, three minutes and like 22 seconds.
Ms. LEANNA(ph) (Nursing student, Roxberry College): I'm Leanna. I'm from Roxbury Community College and I'm a nursing student.
GOTBAUM: So you take blood pressure first?
Ms. LEANNA: Yeah, we take blood pressure, then the temperatures, and just check their heart rate. Just to make sure they're okay.
Here you go 96.3.
After we take their vital signs, we just want to set them up, examine their feet. I'm going to let them soak it for a while and get them, get them new socks.
GOTBAUM: Why do you think feet are important?
Ms. LEANNA: Feet are very important. You have to take care of them. If you don't take care of them, you know you can get all these types of sores and infections, and it could lead to, like in a lot of diabetic patients, their feet being amputated just for not having good foot care.
Ms. CECELIA IBEABUCHI (St Francis Clinic Manager): My name is Cecelia Ibeabuchi. I am the clinic manager. We have my friend here who, the sneakers he has on were too tight for his feet.
GOTBAUM: But he's got a big . . .
Ms. IBEABUCHI: A nickel size blister.
Ms. IBEABUCHI: And, that is open. I'm going to wipe the area gently.
GOTBAUM: Sounds like you need new sneakers to me.
Unidentified Male#1: I wear a 13 but I had a 12 on for about two months.
GOTBAUM: What's your name.
Mr. BILL FOLEY(ph) (Boston Homeless Man): Bill Foley.
GOTBAUM: Have you come here before Bill?
Mr. FOLEY: All the time, at least once a week, the minimum.
GOTBAUM: When did you start coming here?
Mr. FOLEY: About three years ago.
Mr. FOLEY: My feet were killing me. They were hurting, like walking on glass. They seen me, they said it was beginning stages of frostbite. If I stayed out any longer, it would've been frostbite, and I would've probably lost some toes.
GOTBAUM: How long have you lived outside?
Mr. FOLEY: Off and on for the past 10 years.
GOTBAUM: So you credit this place for saving your toes?
Mr. FOLEY: That, my mental health, and my feet first yeah. It just followed itself.
GOTBAUM: Feet first and then the rest?
Mr. FOLEY: All the way up the line.
GOTBAUM: So what are you going to do about the socks?
Ms. IBEABUCHI: I have to go look for the socks from the clothing department, so, some big socks.
GOTBAUM: Are they Harvard socks?
Ms. IBEABUCHI: Yeah, donations.
GOTBAUM: Have you gotten Harvard socks before?
Mr. FOLEY: Oh yes, oh yes, I got nice socks out of here. I mean, they have some really good socks.
GOTBAUM: They got the H on them.
Mr. FOLEY: Yeah.
GOTBAUM: Well let's see if they work.
Ms. IBEABUCHI: Let's cross our fingers. Come on, come on.
GOTBAUM: Are you ready? Are you doing it?
Ms. IBEABUCHI: Come on, yes, finally.
GOTBAUM: It looks like the Harvard socks worked. Yea. How does that sock feel?
Mr. FOLEY: Oh it feels comfortable. It just nice, nice and warm.
BLOCK: Producer Rachel Gotbaum took us to the Foot Room at the St. Francis House Shelter in downtown Boston.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.