Tending to the Wounds of Homelessness During the Coronavirus Pandemic



If you see a human down, you stop and help. That’s the message Wound Walk OC is sharing.
 
Founded by Michael Sean Wright, the group provides basic wound care and hygiene services as well as food and drinks to unsheltered people in Orange County, California.
 
“We can all agree that wounds need to heal. Without care, a nick or scrape can become something serious that no one should go through,” Wright said.
 
For most people living outdoors, their primary doctor is the ER doc, who can only stabilize their wound or condition, but then must release them to the streets where the injury gets worse and worse.
 
The Orange County organization acts as an in-between, helping homeless people with their injuries. According to Wright, for a wound to properly heal, it must be treated and monitored. “Our goal is to identify, triage, stabilize and get into a clinic environment,” he said. This includes taking pictures of wounds, knocking down any infection, and connecting the injured persons with a clinic to monitor their recovery. “We want to make sure we have a primary care physician to look at the wound over time.”
 
When COVID-19 hit, Wounded Walk OC scaled up. Everything had closed, making it harder for homeless people to get basic needs like food and water. The pandemic also disrupted nonprofit and government organizations’ ability to provide homeless services to unsheltered residents. Wounded Walk OC increased their capabilities by offering handwashing stations and other measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
 
“We bring sanitation to them,” Wright said, adding that they also question them about their current health, whether they have lost sense of smell or taste, do they feel hot?
 
Wright reminds us that we have the power to make changes and to improve the lives of those around us – and it is a rewarding feeling.
 
“That exchange we have with our friends out here – there is a moment of relief when they get their skin washed, when they get a band-aid, when they get wrapped – that is a moment that is indescribable.”
 
It’s not up to somebody else, it’s up to us to help our homeless neighbors during the coronavirus and at all times, Wright said. “We all have something we can do, and that we are good at. This problem isn’t going away unless we step up and do something.”
 
Now is the time to help your neighbors – maybe even start your own Wound Walk! It will be the most rewarding thing you can do in life.
 
Wound Walk OC Facebook

Invisible Stories is a mini-doc series that goes beyond the rhetoric, statistics, political debates, and limitations of social services to examine poverty in America via a medium that audiences of all ages understand, and can’t ignore.

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There is a direct correlation between what the general public perceives about homelessness and how it affects policy change. Most people blame homelessness on the person experiencing it instead of the increasing shortage of affordable housing, lack of employment, a living wage or the countless reasons that put a person at risk. This lack of understanding creates a dangerous cycle of misperception that leads to the inability to effectively address the root causes of homelessness.

We imagine a world where everyone has a place to call home. Each day, we work to fight homelessness by giving it a face while educating individuals about the systemic issues that contribute to its existence. Through storytelling, education, news, and activism, we are changing the narrative on homelessness.

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