BVI News

72-year-old living in hospital lobby

By Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist

Using two armchairs and sofa cushions, 72-year-old Franklyn Freeman fashioned a makeshift bed inside the lobby area of Peebles Hospital.

That is where the senior citizen has been living since Hurricane Irma made off with the roof of his Fahie Hill home on September 6.

Freeman stays isolated in a small corner of the hospital lobby where he sleeps and stores a few small bundles of clothing. The elderly man also keeps an extra hospital armchair along with a small table beside his makeshift bed.

He noticeably tries to keep out of hospital-users’ way.

But curious eyes still watch him daily.

Though staying in the open lobby was his choice, Freeman said he is not in the least comfortable. But he told BVI News that he has nowhere else to go.

The feeble-voiced Freeman, who is also a dialysis patient at the hospital, is desperate for assistance so he can move back home.

That’s where government comes in, Freeman said. “I would like them to assist me because I need help to get the house roof back on.”

The senior citizen, however, said he is not very hopeful that help will come.

Freeman stated that he has seen government members come and go past his hospital habitat, but none has ever reached out to him.

“I does see some them come when they have some kind of meeting here (at the hospital)… But them ain’t looking to help nobody,” said the former government worker.

“I feel bad about it because I need help but nobody ain’t here,” added Freeman whose arthritis in the leg prevents him from moving around as much as he would like to.

“I just learning to walk again. I can’t get out to go nowhere… I stressed right out.”

How Freeman was allowed to live in lobby

Freeman said he came to the hospital after the September 6 hurricane to undergo his scheduled dialysis – which, effectively, is a procedure that is a substitute for many of the normal functions of the kidneys.

But after the procedure was completed that day, the 72-year-old realised that he had no home to return to.

“The window dem didn’t get lick out. But because the roof went, it take off everything what was inside and throw them all ’bout. My clothes – every piece of them wet. I didn’t leave with a thing,” said Freeman who braved the hurricane inside a bathroom with his sister and her grandchildren.

He said, since the hurricane, his sibling has been staying at a family-friend’s residence where they sleep on the floor. He said old age prevents him from staying with them.

“Dem say they were sleeping on the floor but if I sleep on the ground I can’t get back up.”

For that reason, he opted to stay at the medical facility.

“I use to worry first time I came because the woman used to come and telling me I got to move – the lady that in charge of the place. But she stop now. She don’t come anymore because I don’t have anywhere else to go,” he told BVI News, adding that he was grateful to the hospital staff who provides him with meals.

Efforts to contact hospital CEO Paula Chester-Cumberbatch for comment have been unsuccessful.


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