West Side frostbite victim faces long road to recovery
By joe gorman
The most urgent thing facing a man hospitalized for frostbite, contracted from living for several days in a West Side home without heat, is how to make arrangements to provide long-term care for him.
Cynthia Carter, a social worker for the police department’s Family Services Investigative Unit, said the 51-year-old man has no insurance and no Medicaid, either and that arrangements need to be made quickly for him to be able to stay at a nursing home after he is released from the hospital.
The man is being treated at ValleyCare Northside Medical Center where he went Sunday to be treated for frostbite, which reports described as so bad that his clothes and boots were fused to his skin.
“His legs are in really bad shape,” Carter said. “He cannot walk at all.”
Carter said the man needs to have the red tape cut for his Medicaid application so that he can get care as soon as possible.
The man’s 58-year-old wife and 22-year-old daughter also were taken to the hospital to be checked for frostbite and both were released Wednesday, Carter said. She said they have been accepted at a local homeless shelter.
The family’s North Hazelwood Avenue home has been deemed uninhabitable by city housing officials because it has no heat or running water. Carter said they could not go back until they turn the water on, but that problem is made worse because the pipes in the home burst, and those would have to be fixed first, but the family has no money.
The home has not had water since Jan. 10. City officials are not sure who owns the house.
Carter said the family was in her office in November to fill out paperwork for heating assistance, but they never sent the forms in to receive the assistance. She said the home had no heat because there was no gas, not because of a faulty furnace.
Carter said the man will not be able to walk normally for a long time because of his condition from the frostbite.
“He needs long-term help,” Carter said. “That’s my main concern right now.”
She said the daughter had a slight case of frostbite but the mother was fine.
The case is one of the worst she has experienced, Carter said.
“I’ve seen a lot of people and a lot of bad things,” Carter said. “But this one is bad.”