Local News

Wednesday, Mar 05 2014 09:29 PM

Homeless man with broken feet released from hospital with nowhere to go

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    By Ruth Brown/ The Californian

    James Dunn sits Wednesday in a parking lot outside West Side Liquor Store after being released from Kern Medical Center with two broken feet. The store is near the Greyhound Bus station. Kern Medical Center officials had given him a pass to take a bus out of town, but released him too late for the once-a-day trip to Oregon. He would spend the somewhere in Bakersfield waiting for Thursday's bus. Vicki Smith, right, a friend of Dunn's, was providing support. Both Dunn and Smith are homeless.

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    By Ruth Brown/ The Californian

    James Dunn, 42, sits Wednesday in a parking lot outside West Side Liquor Store after being released from Kern Medical Center with two broken feet. He missed the once-a-day bus to Oregon hospital officials had given him a pass for. He had to spend the night without shelter, and without being able to walk.

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BY RUTH BROWN Californian staff writer rbrown@bakersfield.com

James Dunn has two broken feet, is immobile from the knees down and homeless.

The 42-year-old man broke every bone in his right foot and four bones in his left foot when he fell 30 feet over a staircase railing Feb. 21. His Feb. 28 surgery at Kern Medical Center left Dunn’s right foot with four pins and three screws, and both legs in casts.

KMC tried to help Wednesday by purchasing Dunn a ticket to Newport, Ore., where his mother lives. He planned to stay with her until he recovered.

But because KMC didn’t release him early enough Wednesday, he missed the bus. So Dunn, who was homeless before the accident, was homeless again Wednesday night, and unable to walk.

He did have a used $12 wheelchair his father found for him at a yard sale. The rickety black chair easily comes apart. One armrest is taped on.

As the sun set Wednesday, Dunn sat in the parking lot of the West Side Liquor Store on the corner of 19th and F streets. The thin man hung his head with both feet propped up in the wheelchair. The hospital did not supply him with crutches or a wheelchair when he left the hospital, Dunn said.

The Greyhound bus was set to leave at 3:30 p.m. but Dunn wasn’t discharged until 3 and his taxi didn’t make it to Greyhound bus station until about 3:15.

He was not allowed to board the bus. Dunn said he asked the bus station to schedule him another ticket, but the account number on his ticket voucher didn’t work, Dunn said.

The next Greyhound bus doesn’t leave until 3:30 p.m. today. In the meantime, Dunn didn’t know where he was going to stay or how he would spend the night.

Vicki Smith, 46, a friend of Dunn’s who supported him during his stay in the hospital and efforts to find transportation to Oregon, believes the hospital should have allowed him to stay longer.

“Just because (Dunn) doesn’t have insurance doesn’t mean he should be on the street,” said Smith, who also is homeless.

Kern Medical Center CEO Russell Judd said he was unfamiliar with Dunn’s case but upon learning of it Wednesday night said he would make sure the man received a bus ticket voucher for today.

“We’re here to care for anybody that needs care, no matter their income,” Judd said. “If they need care we're here to help.”

Dunn said initially the hospital doctors and nurses were very kind to him. But at the end of the stay he felt like they kept trying to get him to leave.

He does not know where he will go for physical rehabilitation on his feet but hopes he will find government funding for it in Oregon. His left foot is estimated to take about a month to heal and the right foot is estimated to take two months.

“It’s just one more roadblock,” Dunn said.
 

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