Nurse Establishes Clothing Closet For Discharged Homeless Patients

Photo by Crew on Unsplash

Oliver Castellanos, a nurse at Miami-based Jackson Health System, created a clothing closet at the hospital for discharged homeless patients after noticing throughout his 30-year career that many homeless patients were released without the bare necessities, reports CNN.

"At times, all they were discharged with was the paper gown they were provided while being treated," Mr. Castellanos told CNN. 

Mr. Castellanos thought up various ways he could help the homeless patients, and soon determined they would benefit most from receiving clothes and shoes they could keep. He then started a collection at the hospital of clothes and shoes from his closet at home that he was planning on donating. After word about his efforts spread, the small collection turned into a full-scale closet.

"It began with a small pile," Mr. Castellanos said, according to CNN.  "But it continued to grow bigger and bigger."

The closet, which is located in the discharge lounge of Jackson Memorial Hospital, is now overflowing with clothing, shoes and accessories from donors. The donors were colleagues at the hospital and members of his church congregation.

"We are all human beings," Mr. Castellanos told CNN.  "We have to help each other out."

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Such a heart warming story and beautiful idea.

Catherine Brug-Reeves, RN, BSN, BS

At my hospital, St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas in Northern KY., we have had a clothing closet for a number of years for our patients. It is not only for the homeless and less fortunate but, for patients who come into our facility and have their clothes cut off in an emergency situation. Being in the health profession for 37 years, I can tell you that this has saved us more than I can count since I am a critical care nurse. The patients are so happy that they have something to wear!!!

Jane Von Dohre

Our ER has had Cindy’s Closet for at least 15 years. It started out as a little closet started by one of our nurses, Cindy, and has grown to a huge room of clothes, shoes, outer wear, etc., that we can give to our patients. It began as clothing to give to rape victims that have their clothes taken as evidence so that they don’t have to go home in a gown and our trauma patients that have their clothes cut off. Different scout troops have completed service hours sorting the clothes and we have someone that oversees the donations.… Read more »

Samuel Criss

Samuel L. Criss RN-BC On my Psychiatric unit at New York Presbyterian Hospital Second Chance unit, White Plains New York, a clothing closet was also established for indigent patients who did not have adequate clothing and shoes. Winter was especially a difficult time due to it being colder and patients need to go to court etc and do not have proper clothing such as coats. What a great staff to work with, who brought in clean clothing of all sizes for these patients. Some staff even bought new clothes and shoes for the patients in certain situations. It is truly… Read more »


I’d love to donate clothes for this cause if possible. Let me know how! I work in the medical field & know this is a problem.

Judy Beasley

Nursing homes have their share of homeless too. Not all the residents have families or friends that can provide clothing when needed. My hats off to all of you that have provided some essentials. “There but by the grace of God go I”

Anna B Simon

Very nice. What more can we do for the homeless? Via policies, programs, caring, empathy and actions? I am trying to come up with ideas for my DNP work. This reminds me of my 2 years at an elementary school near to homeless shelters in Jacksonville, Fl. My school nurse office was the home of the lost and found. The jackets, shirts and pants were smelly, so I took them home and washed them. Sometimes the kids would recognize them and take them happy to have found them, I would let students take the unclaimed or donate them to the… Read more »

Cristi Skye, RN

Fantastic idea! This is what we nurses should be about–thinking about our patients and finding ways to help them!!! Love it!

Mary martin

Kudos to you. God bless

Ana Nogueira

This is a great idea and every hospital should have one. We have one in my hospital and all staff contributes to it. I presently have a bag of men’s sweaters to bring in. All sizes and all items are a necessity.

Joyce Huffer RN, MSN, C-FNP

I’m going to see what I can do. Really good idea

Ellen B Calandra

Truly a great humanitarian effort . You are the most compassionate nurse . Notice how your act of kindness has just spilled over to the rest of the hospital. Just by your example!

Ellen B Calandra

Oliver, Congrats for a job well done and for thinking out of the box. You are truly a compassionate person and a nurse to be looked up to.

fellow nurse

That’s great that the hospital got behind you. A few of us over the past 20 years have tried to establish a closet, but was told over again that we didn’t have the room. We would try to keep extra clothes in our lockers. But obviously wasn’t used with any consistency. I have seen people handed back clothing that was stuffed into a plastic bag, soiled, that sat for days, only to put back on for discharge. Terrible! Thank you for your compassion!

Lyd Fra

Our shared leadership has done this a couple times in the past year. The clothing closets were started by the social workers at our hospital many years ago and we just help them keep it filled.

Deanna Salas

How thoughtful. We as a society need to come together and help the weak. What
a simple action to a difficult situation. We need to do more for the individuals with
mental issues. Thank you Mr. Castellanos for your action. You saw a need and
did something to help the situation. God Bless.

Bonnie Roberts

This is an awesome idea!! People usually don’t give a homeless person a second thought. You just don’t know how a person ended up in that situation and it’s great that a fellow nurse is trying to help.

Ellen Bartell, RN

There’s an awesome nurse with a great heart!!