Our mission at Mercy Health includes a vow to bring good help to those in need, including the poor and under-served.
As Mercy Health – Marcum and Wallace Hospital in Irvine, KY sees an increased number of homeless people seeking care, it’s clear the members of their emergency department (ED) team have taken this mission to heart.
“I have to say, this team has a soft spot for the homeless,” says Missy Snowden, emergency services manager. “They want to make sure they are fed and warm.”
On a chilly March day, one particular patient checked into the emergency department for care and quickly went to the bathroom. When he didn’t come out, staff members checked on his well-being and found him standing in his shorts, washing his pants and shoes in the sink.
Pam Williams, an environmental services associate, offered him a dry gown along with scrubs and found a room where he could wait while she washed his clothes.
He was carrying an old bag full of unrefrigerated lunch meat. Deanna Seale, a nursing manager, found him a new bag. Erica Duty and Bia Wiefering, both ED techs, as well as Meredith Neal and Cara Hebert, both registered nurses, filled the bag with non-perishable snacks that would keep fresh and wouldn’t make him sick.
Worried about where he would spend the night during the cold weather, Misty Dehart, a peer support specialist, found a nearby shelter that had a bed available. The shelter requires identification, which the patient didn’t have on him. So, Misty and Jerrica Brandenburg, an addiction recovery coordinator, drove him the local courthouse to get his identification card and split the $12 cost.
He had lost a prescription he needed for his care, so Lisa Patton, a pharmacy manager, worked with him to get his medicine.When his clothes were clean and dry, the team found a warm winter hat for him and laces for his shoes. They then arranged for his transportation to the shelter.
“It was not just one person, everybody worried about him,” Missy recalls. “I had one staff member say, ‘caring for the homeless makes me see what we take for granted.’ We had one homeless patient come in at Thanksgiving and all I could think is people are eating all this food and he had nothing. It makes you realize what you have.”
Ellen Stotts, nursing director, notes that in special need situations, the emergency department team pulls together to make sure patients leave in the best possible shape.
Missy agrees, saying, “My staff make sure they have done everything possible, so people don’t leave hungry or cold and that their needs are met.”
Learn about the emergency and urgent care services we provide at Mercy Health.