Earlier this year the Comfort Care Center was able to serve a patient under our No One Is Alone initiative who we’ll call Carl.
Carl was a horse walker. That is, he and his buddies would travel from racetrack to racetrack and walk horses for a small amount of pay and the ability to sleep in an empty stall. Free time was typically spent smoking and drinking and once the season ended at one track, they were off to the next.
As Carl was on his way to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, he became so ill that the bus driver had to stop and summon an ambulance. Upon treatment in a local ER, one of Hospice Home Care’s medical directors saw that Carl’s lifestyle had finally caught up to him. He was admitted to their Comfort Care Center and passed away after a 3-day stay, but not before asking the staff if he could pay for his care with food stamps. (Tribute of Life was so thankful that we were able to tell him not to worry about payment.)
We have not yet been able to locate any of Carl’s family members, or learn much else about him. The funeral home that agreed to take him was at least able create a simple obituary and provide a proper burial. The one thing we do know is that Carl did not die alone.
When the homeless are asked what concerns them about death, these are the most frequent answers:
- Fear that providers will not deliver appropriate care due to the stigma associated with homelessness.
- Fear of a prolonged, painful, and lonely death.
- Fear of an un-memorialized death.
- Fear of what will be done with their bodies after death.
The No One Is Alone program may still be in its infancy, but we can look at Carl’s experience and know that we addressed all of the above concerns. We can also look forward and know that with your help, we will be able to serve even more people like Carl.