BUENA PARK, Calif. — There are about 7,000 people sleeping on the streets on any given day in Orange County.
They literally keep Michael Sean Wright up at night.
Wright and about four other people, including a nurse and social worker, meet six days a week to give first aid to people living on the streets. They call it street medicine and reality-based medicine. His organization is offering help where others have scaled back due to the pandemic.
“With them having a disconnect from the health care system, their wounds got worse. Their self-harm increased and things like fentanyl and methamphetamine took way off,” said Wright, the founder of Wound Walk OC.
They meet at a motel parking lot in Buena Park every Thursday night. On this night, Wright, accompanied by a registered nurse named Bobby, Kat White, his operations director at Wound Walk and city of Buena Park employees Rosemary Nielsen and Analisa Marquez Pinedo helped a man who was struggling to walk.
“He was on the tripod situation, out of breath and maybe struggling to get his breath,” Wright said. The patient is in his 60s. He smokes and isn’t on any form of treatment for his diabetes. Bound to the motel with his seven children and the inability to walk far, he’s unable to go to a doctor.
“Your heart is working too hard, my friend,” Wright told the man.
White says the experience is hard, but rewarding.
“There are too many obstacles between them and a clinic or a hospital,” White said. “There’s children or there’s possessions, transportation or pain that prevents them from going inside and asking for help. So we have to do that initial contact to open those doors for them, so it’s an easy path in.”
Nielsen helps with finding shelter and housing options for the patient and his family.
“They represent somebody,” Nielsen said. “They’re somebody’s sister, mom, dad, family that has fallen on hard times. I feel a responsibly not only to my city, but to these people to be able to help them as best I can.”
Wright says it’s important to see patients where they are because not everyone can make time to see a physician.
“That gentleman was at the right place at the right time with the right people,” Wright said.
The purpose of the walk is to treat wounds they can see and ones that they can’t, all in an effort for everyone to get a better night’s sleep.
For more information, click here.