Monday, March 9, 2009

James goes to the hospital

It's funny, some of the homeless WAY overuse the medical system, constantly presenting to emergency services and emergency rooms.  There are others though, like James who don't get medical care until it's almost too late.  Because James' drinking is a little more controled then some of the others, he doesn't wind up passed out in the street quite as much and so he doesn't have the (sometimes daily) frequent medical care of others in his cohort.  So, when James got pnemonia, it wasn't till he was passed on in a pool of his own vomit in the back of the shelter that he started his contact with the medical system.  

The paramedics, were horrible.  I seriously, have so much respect for them, they do a crazy job, but each time they insult one of my clients or talk about them like they're stupid and just a burden on society I get more and more angry.  There's some good ones, and the first responder fire fighters are usually awesome, but the paramedics... wow, they're getting to me!  Anyway, they treated him like crap even though he was super cooperative and friendly with them.  There was no rudeness on his part, just some smiling (he loves to grin) and he did his best.  

There's a funny part to this story though.  I was talking to one of this client's good friends at the shelter and asked how he was doing.  Turns out though, somehow, none of this client's friends knew what had happened to him, infact, they were all quite worried as he'd just disappeared into thin air.  So, I made an oops with client confidentiality, assuming they knew he'd been hospitalized, but I think it'll be okay.  

Anyway, the client I was talking to was super relieved and decided he'd get the whole gang together to go visit their friend in the hospital.  These particular clients are the very, very chronically homeless.  They're the ones you see passed on in doorways and on sidewalks.  They're the ones who haven't bathed in years.  One of them wears a hood all the time, dresses all in black and has ear buds, which I discovered in one of his less intoxicated moments are to keep the voices out.  They're almost always intoxicated to some degree and well, if you didn't know them, they'd look pretty scary.  

What I laugh at, is the poor staff at the hospital as these guys come through the door.  If you or I was to visit a friend it would be one thing, but these guys are something else.  I'm so glad they're going though.  It shows the strength of the community.  Hopefully these guys don't pull a fast one though... our clients have been known to bring drinks and get their friends drunk while visiting!  When you're wearing 8 layers of clothing (you only think I'm exagerating), it's pretty easy to get stuff in.  


cb said...

I now have a great mental image of all the friends turning up in the hospital!

Still Dreaming said...

I know eh. It's a great picture. I love the community these guys have, but I really wish I could see the look on people's faces.