Braving the cold to help the homeless

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The ICT street team helped the homeless Saturday morning at St John's Episcopal Church by giving them healthcare, clothing and food before the winter storm this weekend.

Founder of the ICT street team, and nurse practitioner, Joshua Reed said they go to different locations a few days per week.

"We spend time out on the streets, under bridges, in the homeless shelters with nurses and physicians trying to provide primary care services," he said.

The team has done this since December 2018, according to Reed. He said it all started when he began his career in public health, and was angered when a homeless man received little care for a bone infection and he saw him die. From there, he said he did some research on what it would take to provide that primary care to the homeless.

"I went to Pennsylvania to spend some time with a couple of street medicine programs there,"  he said. "I've spent some time in Kansas City with a street medicine program just to figure out what the logistics would be and then once everything was ready we pulled the trigger."

They provide medications, testing supplies and draw lab work if needed. He said they also "bridge the gap" that exists for people who have the ability to be treated compared to those who don't by referring homeless individuals to physicians to get care they wouldn't normally get.

He owns an RV that he stores certain things in that they give away.

"Tents, sleeping bags, blankets, scarves, hats," said Reed. "So not only do we provide some medical care, but we try to provide some environmental, protection for these folks as well."

They serve breakfast, including coffee, muffins and croissants. Later, lunch was served with food brought from a local church. Anyone who stopped by could eat, according to Reed, even if no medical assistance was needed.

Reed also owns a trailer that was given to him by an anonymous donor, where more medical treatment can be done. Susan Inskeep, director of community outreach for the team, said it's an area they need for storage of medical supplies and further medical help.

"This is the place where we keep all of any medications we have, antibiotics, things like that," she said. "A private place for people who are just on the street to come in here and be with a provider for a few minutes." 

There are two benches inside for the patients, and she said they also do injections in there and have bandages and other things to heal wounds.

One homeless man that goes by Patrick said he was in the hospital due to bad health when he reached out to Reed and his team. He said he knew he would be in a bad place if he had not done so.

""Without Josh and his team, I'd be screwed," he said. "Pretty much, I'd be dead."