OCEANSIDE — For someone having a heart attack, stroke or any other sort of medical crisis in the middle of the night, something as simple as changing out of pajamas and putting on shoes is simply not a priority.
So what happens when that person is discharged from the hospital but doesn’t have the proper footwear to walk home in? What if they don’t have any family to bring them a change of clothes, or even own a reliable pair of shoes due to economic hardships in the first place?
To make sure patients have a reliable pair of socks and shoes when they leave, Tri-City Hospital Foundation is hosting its third annual shoe drive. The shoe drive asks community members to donate new pairs of shoes and socks to help the hospital build an inventory of shoes and socks to provide to patients who can’t be discharged without the proper footwear.
The shoe drive kicked off March 15 during National Shoe the World Day, a day originally created to spread awareness about people around the world who don’t have shoes to wear.
The Tri-City shoe drive was inspired by nurse Imelda Browning, who once gave a patient the shoes off her own feet so the patient could be safely discharged.
Tri-City has a policy of not releasing patients without proper foot protection.
“If they’ve been injured or their immune system is compromised the last thing we want is for someone to walk out on the concrete and down the street to catch the bus,” said Jennifer Paroly, executive director of the Tri-City Hospital Foundation.
Paroly noted that debris like broken glass and germs along the sidewalk could further harm a patient who isn’t wearing shoes.
She also said the hospital wants to ensure comfort for and protect the dignity of its patients by providing them with a pair of shoes to leave with if they don’t already have a pair or another means of getting shoes.
“We want our patients to feel valuable and taken care of,” she said.
According to Paroly, shoes and socks have been pouring in from the community through the hospital’s doors since the shoe drive began.
“People would stop by and you can feel their own sense of appreciation for these situations and to be able to give back,” she said. “You might think that’s just one pair of shoes but that pair is for one individual, and every individual matters.”
The hospital asks that shoes and socks are new to guarantee the safety of the patients. Paroly explained that the hospital can’t guarantee the cleanliness of used shoes, especially for patients with compromised immune systems, and doesn’t have the means to sanitize all of the shoes it receives.
The shoe drive is mostly looking for donations of shoes in adult sizes 8 and up or cash donations of at least $10. Paroly also noted there seems to be a higher demand for men’s shoes.
According to Paroly, before the drive the hospital’s shoe inventory was very low. She said the foundation has been able to make some purchases throughout the past year but the shoe drive is a huge help. She hopes that the shoe drive will help the hospital to provide shoes to patients who need them through the end of fall.
Paroly said she has been “overwhelmed with the generosity” of the community during the shoe drive.
“Every pair of shoes makes a difference, every pair of socks makes a difference to a human life,” she said.
The shoe drive will continue through March 30. Donation bins are located in the main lobbies of Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside and Tri-City Wellness Center in Carlsbad.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son