Media Advisory: UB HEALS to help Buffalo’s homeless population put their best feet forward

Student volunteers from UB HEALS offer some much-needed foot care to Buffalo's homeless population in this photo from 2016. Photo: Douglas Levere.

Student volunteers from UB HEALS offer some much-needed foot care to Buffalo's homeless population in this photo from 2016. Photo: Douglas Levere

By Barbara Branning

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Photo of UB medical student Reema Panjwani.
“These folks have to be on the move all the time, and are in dire need of shoes that will not only support them, but also withstand Buffalo’s winters.”
Reema Panjwani, UB HEALS public relations manager, second-year medical student
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Homelessness continues to be a pervasive problem in Buffalo.

Each year, approximately 5,500 people are homeless in Western New York. The majority of these individuals are without permanent shelter due to circumstances any one of us could face – including house fires, evictions, job loss, health issues and domestic disputes.

One of the most significant, but often overlooked, issues homeless people face is foot problems. Studies suggest the average homeless person spends four and a half hours on his or her feet each day.

When lack of money prevents them from buying adequate shoes and socks, numerous problems arise, from fungal infections to ingrown toenails to significant deformities. In people with diabetes, foot problems can be even more serious.

This week, some of Buffalo’s homeless will receive new boots, socks, foot-care kits and medical consultations when UB HEALS, a street-medicine outreach initiative of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, holds a foot clinic.

Media are invited to speak to members of the UB HEALS team from 7-9:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, as they make their rounds of neighborhoods in which the homeless gather.

“These folks have to be on the move all the time, and are in dire need of shoes that will not only support them, but also withstand Buffalo’s winters,” said Reema Panjwani, public relations manager for UB HEALS and a second-year medical student.

UB HEALS — which stands for Homeless health, Education, Awareness, and Leadership in Street medicine — began in spring 2016. The student-run organization aims to increase access to health care for the homeless population of Buffalo while providing educational experience to medical students.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, medical student volunteers go out into the community, visiting sites where homeless people gather, providing free, on-the-spot medical care. They are constantly handing out hygiene care kits, socks, hats, gloves and other warm winter-wear, heavily relying on donations. The group’s aim is to engage with an underserved population and reconnect them to the health care system.

Last year the organization received a grant to buy shoes and foot care kits. The group has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help sustain UB HEALS so it can provide care and relief not just on Dec. 5, but for years to come.

What: UB HEALS foot clinic

When: 7-9:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5.

Where: Holy Cross Shelter at Holy Cross Church, 345 7th St., Buffalo, 14201.

Who: UB HEALS is a medical student-run organization that provides medical care to those in need twice a week during the year. The group’s efforts are paid for through its annual crowdfunding campaign. In 2018, UB HEALS raised more than $19,000. With these donations, they provided service to more than 1,000 individuals, including distributing, medications, medical supplies and other necessities for living.

Why: The foot clinic will aid many Buffalonians in need this holiday season.

Media Contact Information

Barbara Branning
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4613
bbrannin@buffalo.edu