Thanks to Beaufort Memorial Hospital for sharing the story of some special shoes:
They might not make the pages of Vogue, but the 322 pairs of shoes donated to Beaufort Memorial Hospital's mental health unit are as much in demand as the latest Manolo Blahnik stilettos.
When shoes are your primary mode of transportation, function always trumps fashion.
"Many mental health patients walk incessantly because they are unable to drive or don't have access to a car," said Beaufort Memorial Hospital podiatrist Dr. Thomas Miller, who also serves as chairman of the Coastal Empire Community Mental Health Center. "Shoes are very important to them."
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For years, Miller has been donating therapeutic shoes to the hospital as emergencies arose. But the demand has grown beyond what he is able to accommodate from his small office stock.
"I couldn't continue on that level," Miller said. "It's staggering the number of patients who come in wearing bedroom slippers or old shoes they've picked up from the trash."
Recognizing the profound need, Miller tapped his supplier, Dr. Comfort, for a donation. The footwear company came through in a big way. The gift included 161 pairs of men's shoes and 161 pairs of women's shoes in a wide range of sizes, styles and colors.
"These are high-quality, leather shoes that are extremely well built," Miller said. "The insoles are designed for diabetics, but they work for everyone."
Because the mental health department does not have the space to store 322 boxes of shoes, most of the inventory is being kept off site.
"Dr. Miller has always been a huge advocate of our mental health unit," said Susan South, director of the facility. "He took it upon himself to request the donation, knowing a lot of our patients are homeless or indigent and don't have the resources to buy shoes. It was a wonderful gift."
The BMH Acute Mental Health Unit is the only inpatient facility of its kind in the region. The 14-bed, private wing provides 24-hour nursing, medical and psychiatric care for patients needing crisis stabilization.