Last winter, Sherman was staying in a house without heat. He thought his space heater was sufficient until a bitter cold spell hit. He started to have shooting pain in both feet. When the pain became unbearable, he went to Stroger Hospital where he was diagnosed with severe frostbite and an acute infection. The only treatment was a double, below-the-knee, amputation. This surgery was life-changing.
After a month of recuperation, Sherman was well enough to be discharged. The hospital connected him to our Medical Respite Center which provides short-term accommodations to individuals experiencing homelessness who are well enough to be discharged from a hospital stay but too ill or frail to recover on the streets. The Center was launched in partnership with Cook County Health, which supervises all aspects of medical care and oversite in order to ensure each client’s recuperation. Housing Forward provides accommodations and three meals a day, as well as case management which assists clients in defining a plan for their post-respite housing and then connects them to the resources they need to succeed.
Over the course of his stay, Sherman and his case manager have been working to locate a wheelchair accessible and affordable apartment in Sherman’s home community. With this unexpected change in mobility, Sherman wants to live in a familiar neighborhood where his natural support system is located. Once he is situated, prosthetic legs are next on Sherman’s list. The care team at the Medical Respite Center say he is a strong candidate and Sherman is excited to learn how to walk with these new devices. Knowing it won’t be easy, Sherman remains undaunted. “I want to go back to work. Learning how to walk is the first step!”