Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Story of Kelly

Kelly showed up in Lynch Park about two months ago. She is from Long Island. How she ended up in Gainesville I do not know. She has severe asthma, cysts on her knees that make every step she takes painful, and a host of other medical problems. We've had the A Team trying to get appropriate services for her for awhile, but she keeps disappearing - either to the
hospital or to the home of a 'friend' who takes her in for a few days when her disability check arrives. Last Tuesday we found Kelly in Lynch Park wearing surgical scrubs with a feeding tube hanging from her stomach. She had been discharged from Shands in this condition. They gave her a liquid that requires refrigeration to put down her tube, along with several medications that must be ground up and stirred into this liquid. She tried to get a medical bed at St. Francis House but was told that they were filled to capacity.

There is a storefront mission near Lynch Park. I went there, to see if they would let Kelly sleep inside their facility, while we worked something out. I received an extremely cold reception and left them to their activity of singing about Jesus and passing a collection basket. When I went across the street, I found Peanut, Kelly's caregiver, slowly grinding up her pills with a rock, stirring them into the water we brought, and pouring them down her feeding tube. Peanut is chronically homeless and, in all probablity, a crack addict. I wondered who Jesus would recognize as his friend, Peanut or the folks at the mission? Next morning, Sh'mal got Kelly into a nursing home.

Patient dumping of homeless and very poor people is a national problem. It has been going on in Gainesville for some time, but this is the most egregious example I have ever encountered. We tried to get a story about this into the Gainesville Sun, but have not succeeded. People can draw their own conclusions about that.


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