By Brian Davis
On September 24, a young man, 21 years old, showed up at the shelter doors with burns over three fourths of his body. He was dripped off at the men’s shelter by the only public hospital left in Cleveland. The hospital social worker did not check with the shelter ahead of time, but just dripped “Ray” off. There was no room at the shelter, as is the case every night of the year in Cleveland. Ray had to spend the night on the floor.
Only a few days earlier Ray had tried to commit suicide by lighting himself on fire. He had second and third degree burns. He spent 24 hours in the Psychiatric Ward, and was given four paper prescriptions for pain and anti-depressants and dumped at the Volunteers of American shelter. The staff at the VOA was outraged, but said that it was not the first time that this ha happened. Officials from MetroHealth hospital could not be reached for comment.
The shelter workers secured a place at a shelter that provided mental health services, but before Ray could be transferred he left the shelter. In the past, Ray had returned to his mother, but he left no word as to where he was going.
Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine Issue 30 October – November 1998