Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Lower Keys Medical Center, the homeless woman Kari Dangler, and Key West's homeless shelter (KOTS)

From: sloan bashinsky <>
To: <>; James K. Scholl <>; SD Smith <>
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 9:23:57 AM CST
Subject: Lower Keys Community Hospital and Kari Dangler and KOTS recently and today

Dear Key West Mayor Teri Johnston, City Manager Jim Scholl and City Attorney Shawn Smith:

What follows was told to me by Kari Dangler, who lives on the streets of Key West.

Maybe 10 days ago, Kari woke up in her hidey hole in the night time and looked up and saw a shooting star. Shortly, a man Kari did not know walked over to where she lay and said she knew who he was and where he came from, and she has a purpose, she needs to change, and she needs to leave Key West. The man turned around and walked back toward where he had come from. I tried to persuade Kari to call her aged and somewhat ailing parents on the mainland about going to spend some time with them, helping them out. I would pay for the Greyhound bus ticket. Kari declined.

A few days later, Kari went to the local hospital ER, because she was very weak and could barely walk; she was really congested in her respiratory tract, and her bowel discharges were like she had eaten bad food. She told ER staff she was homeless and a vodka addict and cigarette smoker. She was admitted and then was diagnosed having pneumonia and gastroenteritis. She was put in I.C.U. 

A Dr. Sterkel became Kari's doctor in I.C.U. Kari remained really weak. She could not get to the bathroom unassisted in her hospital room. She soiled her clothes with urine and feces in the bed. A portable chair toilet was brought into her room for her to use. She complained of abdomen and pain and a hard place on her abdomen, and she was having trouble urinating. A catheter was put into her and it drained a lot of fluid and she discharged a lot of fluid into the bed pan. She remained very weak. 

On Kari's 3rd day in the hospital, as I recall the timing, Dr. Sterkel told Kari she was being discharged the next morning. Kari asked Dr. Sterkel if that was because she did not have insurance? Dr. Sterkel said, No. Kari was discharged from the hospital the next morning and was given a form to take to Dr. Covington's office at DePoo Hospital, the poverty medical clinic, for him or his nurse assistant Gloria to sign for Kari to bring back to the hospital so it could get some kind of government-provided reimbursement for treating Kari. Twice before, Dr. Covington had gotten the hospital somewhat reimbursed for treating Kari for 2 different stays. The 1st for bowel surgery. The 2nd for follow up bowel surgery and respiratory and urinary tract infections.

Kari's bicycle was locked to the bike rack at the entrance to the ER. She was too weak to ride it into Key West. She took a city bus to the K-Mart shopping center. She took a city bus back to the hospital, where she hung out a good while. Then, she went to the ER. She told a Dr. Doug why she was in there before and that she had been discharged that morning, and he giggled. Blood was found in Kari's urine. Dr. Doug said that would either be caused by liver trouble or stomach trouble. A liver test was done and enzymes came back normal. Kari was moved from ER to a hospital room not in ER. She requested not being put in ICU again. A different lady doctor came by and talked with Kari. Later, Dr. Sterkel came by and said something like, "Kari!, I'm discharging you tomorrow and sending you home." Kari had no home. 

I told Kari to refuse to leave, to not resist, to make them carry her out of the hospital, after she read to read them what I told her to write down to tell them. Patient's legal rights. Hippocratic Oath. Medical malpractice complaints with Florida Medical and Hospital Boards. Complaints with ACLU, State Attorney, Mayor of Key West, who has met Kari. And for themselves get the form to Dr. Covington's office, so they could get reimbursement like they did the two prior times Kari was in the hospital for 2 bowel surgeries and also lung and urinary tract infection. Both times LKMC discharged her  before she was able to cope with living on the street. The 1st time, a church gave Kari shelter in an apartment at the church, until she was recovered  enough to be on the street. The 2nd time, Kari recuperated in the  home of my landlords, Naja and Arnaud Girard, where I rented an efficiency apartment. The Girards were overseas. 

Kari talked with the nursing director, told the director she was homeless and was banned for life from KOTS. The director said they sent people home worse off than Kari was, and she was seen after she was discharged the morning before, walking around at the K-Mart shopping center. The nursing director called KOTS and was told Kari was not banned, she could sleep there at night. I wondered if KOTS said that because the hospital had called, or because Kari was not banned? Back when there was a big commotion about KOTS banning a lot of homeless people for life and it went before the City Commission, the then Executive Director of SHAL, which runs KOTS for the city, had told me Kari was banned for life.

Kari spent that night at KOTS in the women's trailer dorm. She started smoking cigarettes again. She said she did not start drinking vodka again. She said this morning, after her 2nd night at KOTS, that she still has not drunk vodka again. I said nobody will have sympathy for her after she went back to smoking cigarettes while still recovering from pneumonia. What's the point of being allowed to use the hospital, if she doesn't do her part to take care of herself? I said I had dreamed about all of this and her last night, and I would have to write about it today.

Kari said of KOTS, that the food is good in the evenings. KOTS is a lot better run than it was back when she stayed there some years ago and was a client volunteer, before she was banned for life. Kari said the current KOTS manager, a woman named Lottie, I think is the correct spelling, is a good manager and a real go-getter. The air conditioning in the women's trailer dorm is not working well, and Lottie put on a plastic suit and crawled underneath the trailer and tried to fix the AC. Kari said the old, ratty shower/bathroom trailer has been replaced and the new bathrooms and showers are nice. Clients are required to bathe before they are assigned a bunk. Shelter staff search clients' backpacks for booze and drugs when they come through the front gate. 

I used to make a lot of noise on my blog about the old, filthy, ratty shower and bathroom trailer. And I made noise about dirty, stinking clients in the men's dorms, until KOTS required clients to bathe before they were assigned a bunk.

Sloan Bashinsky

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