Tent City 3

University of Washington welcomed back Tent City 3 (TC3) this quarter— an organized tent-city community — on its Seattle campus for 90 days during winter quarter 2021.  

In the past, our nursing students have provided foot care to this community, but it was discontinued due to COVID. Emma, Vivek and Fabrizo are three of our ABSN students who got involved in helping to advocate for bringing foot care back to this community. According to streetroots.org – “People experiencing extreme poverty and homelessness often suffer from foot problems caused by ill-fitting or worn out shoes, wet shoes, shelter showers shared by hundreds and often teeming with contagious skin diseases, abscesses and infections, long hours spent selling papers and standing in lines and, finally, the need to walk miles every day for survival, often shouldering a heavy pack.” There were some very real concerns about whether it was safe to come on to the premises to provide this care to the residents given the potential exposure to COVID. 

Before moving any further in advocating for safely caring for this community, Emma Paroff, Vivek Naik and Fabrizio Delgado reached out to TC3 leadership to talk with the residents to determine whether they wanted this service. They received a resounding yes that they were indeed interested in having onsite foot care and the students started to discuss more seriously how to make this happen. Through the support of our faculty Dr. Wendy Barrington, Dr. Anne Hirsch, and Lois Thetford (UW MEDEX program) they were able to collaborate with University District Street Medicine to bring foot care events staffed by nursing students to the camp every other week. 

They had their first event on 1/11 with Emma, Vivek and Fabrizio along with our three faculty members as preceptors.  

“It was an incredible experience being welcomed into the TC3 community and providing foot care to seven residents. Each resident received a foot bath, assessment/recommendations on caring for their feet, a foot scrub and moisturizing, and a new pair of socks,” said Emma.  Our students got to learn how to evaluate and care for feet as well as get to know more about their neighbors. They sent out a sign-up sheet to nursing students to staff the remainder of the shifts this quarter and it was full in under an hour.  

“I am grateful to be going to school with a group of future nurses that are compassionate, generous, and eager to learn,” said Emma. 

Our students completed a second foot care clinic. Foot care is an essential part of one’s overall health, and being able to provide this service is significant, especially because it is something that the TC3 residents have showed strong interest in. They are looking into partnering with University District Street Medicine to have the Mobile Health Van onsite during the clinics, giving the residents the chance to get any other medical concerns assessed. However, these foot care clinics are so much more than providing services for the physical health of the residents.

“As we care for their feet, we are given the opportunity to truly connect with our neighbors at TC3. We get a moment to laugh together, and most importantly, listen to, and learn from their stories. Getting this chance to connect with our neighbors while providing healthcare is what makes these foot care clinics so special! This would also not be possible without the amazing UW School of Nursing staff and the 2020 -21 ABSN Cohort. It is inspiring to be a part of a School and Cohort that have a dedication to serve and work within the community,” said Vivek.

A fourth foot care clinic was completed. There were nice conversations with the residents who shared their life stories, concerns and there were even laughs. This clinic brand new shoes were offered to the residents donated by Super Jock ‘N Jill. In addition, UDSM Mobile Health Van was present in case resident expressed further health concerns they would like help with.

“Along with the volunteers were the UW School of Nursing and UW Medex staff who provided their foot care expertise while having their own warm conversations with the people of TC3. We all had a great time getting to know one another, our U-District neighbors,” said Fabrizio.