In early November, a Veteran came into the Salisbury VA Medical Center’s Emergency Department seeking treatment for some large blisters on his feet.
Little did he know that before he would leave the ED he would meet someone like Chuck Maulden, a nurse in the Emergency Department.
“I took him back to be seen and his feet were in really bad shape. He had these huge blisters on his feet that were taking up the entire ball of his foot right behind his toes on both feet,” said Maulden.
“He had on dirty compression stockings that were stuck to his feet from the drainage of the blisters. The doctor examined him and told me to give him some more compression stockings.”
Maulden went to work on treating the patient, taking a little extra care to make sure the Veteran had everything he needed to heal properly.
“I got his stockings off, washed his feet really well with some soap and water, and got some non-stick dressings to put over the blisters between them and the stockings. I got him some new stockings and a couple of extra pairs, in case those got worn out or dirty, and some fresh socks to take with him,” he said. “I just felt like I wished there was more I could do, though.”
What a world it would be if every person had that attitude and generosity of spirit.
“No way his feet were going to heal in those shoes.”
It was then Maulden noticed what he thought might be the cause of the blisters — and he decided to do something about it. “I was looking at his shoes and they were just worn out and looked trashed. There was no way his feet were going to heal up in those shoes, especially if he was homeless and walking through puddles and the cold weather,” Maulden said.
“I just asked him what size shoe he wore and it happened to be my size. I had on some fairly new shoes and had probably only worn them a few times.” “I just couldn’t send him out there like that and I only had an hour left in my shift, so I figured I could get by wearing socks until I got home,” he added.
“I just put my shoes on him and asked him if they fit. He just needed a new pair of shoes and I had some, so I just gave them to him. It just felt like the right thing to do.”
Maulden finished out his shift in medical shoe covers to prevent any unsanitary conditions as a result of giving up his shoes.
Ruth Lee, Emergency Department nurse manager and retired Army officer, said that although what Maulden did that night was a little unorthodox, seeing that level of caring and compassion serves as an inspiration to others in the health care field.
“It just made my heart warm to know that one of the nurses would do that,” she said. “I was so excited when I heard what he had done because I’m a Veteran, and so to hear that someone would go that far to care for Veterans — it’s just really very special.”
“He needed something I could provide.”
Salisbury VA Medical Center Director Kaye Green echoed Lee’s sentiments. “We don’t ask every staff member here to give a Veteran their shoes, and certainly we don’t expect that, but can you imagine what a world it would be if every person had that attitude and generosity of spirit,” she said. “I feel like what Chuck did demonstrates every one of VA’s I CARE values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence.”
Maulden, who is very humble about the encounter (and not too crazy about all the publicity) said while he doesn’t plan on giving away more of his shoes, he was glad to do something a little extra to help out someone in need. “I just felt like he needed something I could provide. He’s obviously got a harder life than I do,” he said. “I just felt I would rest easier at night knowing I did everything I could for him. I just saw something I could do and I did it.”