Clothing, shoes for ERs help patients on their way
Through the emergency doors at Foothills Hospital, hidden in the ambulance bay, lies a room and two overflow metal storage lockers, known as the clothing closet.
Full of pants, shirts, bins of shoes, a few coats and several garbage bags of items yet to be sorted, the lockers and tiny room serve the entire hospital and ensure patients don’t go home shoeless and wearing a nightgown.
“It all goes; people just have no idea of the need,” says Laurie Hector, a social worker in the emergency department at Foothills Hospital.
The clothing goes to a range of discharged patients, from homeless people to those who get in an ambulance wearing slippers, or trauma patients without family or friends who can bring them clothing.
“This is a trauma centre for southern Alberta and every trauma that comes in, their clothes get cut off,” says Hector.
The Foothills also works closely with the homeless population and Hector likes to give homeless people two or three sets of clothes when they leave.
“It helps with discharges throughout the entire hospital, especially when the weather is cold because you can’t really send someone home on a bus or in a taxi wearing a nightie.”
Three years ago, Mary Mansfield’s daughter-inlaw, a nurse, told her many patients at the hospital don’t have clothes to go home in.
Mansfield soon contacted the hospital and brought in IODE, an 111-year-old national women’s charitable organization (IODE stands for Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire).
Today, Mansfield, municipal services officer of IODE Calgary, volunteers her time collecting clothing, shoes and boots.
Garbage bags full of items are stuffed into her small car every month and delivered to the hospital.
The dozens of bags are placed on wheelchairs and pushed to the clothing closet.
“It’s important to me because it’s a need I can’t say I totally knew existed,” says Mansfield.
“I just can’t believe that one would go in (to the hospital) and have their health to worry about and also have to be worrying about whether they have any clothes or shoes to go home in.”
In Calgary, IODE members partake in a range of volunteer initiatives and operate a volunteer-run thrift shop called Offbeat Outfitters.
Mansfield takes surplus items from the store to the hospital and is constantly seeking donations of shoes, boots and coats, items the thrift store never has a surplus of.
“(This program is) part of what IODE is all about,” says Mansfield. “We serve people and this is just one example of that.”
Before Mansfield became involved, Hector would place posters asking for donations around the hospital.
Clothing was donated, but the items patients desperately needed like men’s shoes and coats were absent.
“In winter, it’s hard to send a homeless man back