Being Homeless in Key West with Life-Threatening Medical Conditions

Sloan Bashinsky
Sloan Bashinsky

by Sloan Bashinsky…….

Pedaling my bicycle up to the Winn-Dixie the other day, I chatted with a homeless man standing at the intersection of Palm and North Roosevelt Blvds, waiting on the light to change. He said he only arrived here about a week ago, he’d come down with the flu, stayed one night at KOTS, the city’s homeless shelter, it was the dirtiest place he’d ever seen, he was not going back there.

On same general theme, excerpts from recent emails written by my friend Rick Roberts, AKA Raccoon, published with his permission:

From Email 1, Rick to me:

Last night I get a call at about 8:30 PM and it’s the probation officer and he is livid – “where are you?”.

I said I was in Key West. He said why have you said you were staying at KOTS, when I was just there looking for you and they say you were not there and hadn’t been for months. I said I stay other places sometimes. He wasn’t happy about that and I could tell I was about to be violated.

Finally, I said I don’t stay at KOTS because I almost had to have my leg amputated from getting MRSA at KOTS and spending 11 days in the hospital on the most potent antibacterial medicine (elephant level according to the doctors) known to man. The doctors instructed me afterward never to go to KOTS again, it was suicide. They agreed that the vermin there have even unknown mutating strains of the most dangerous diseases, basically from them putting their tolerance depleted Skol, Natty Ice, and Spice infected bodies to hide and sleep in the primordial soup soaked the mangroves. I personally think it’s amazing they don’t emerge from there with extra limbs and a fish tail.

That didn’t satisfy him. He asked again where I was. I told him ____. He went on about how I lied about KOTS. I said I didn’t think telling the truth was any better because I stayed at multiple places from time to time and obviously if you are indigent the court and state expected me to commit suicide at KOTS. He said he expected me to tell the truth about where I was and asked again. I told him ____. He doubted that, asked again. I said look, I am at _____ right in front of the entrance. I said I had reported KOTS because I didn’t want to go to jail.

He then tells me it’s OK not to go to KOTS, to be on the streets, but I have to tell him every night where I am. I said fine, I am glad to hear that, I stay in _____ and behind the _____. He asks again where I am at. I said look, I am at _____. He says come over to my office at the front, and I better be there in a couple minutes. I said I’m on it chief. He says you better be here in a couple minutes, I said OK. He obviously thought I was somewhere else.

We meet, and he reads me a very calmed down diatribe about how he has to know where I am at all times. I tell him fine. I apologize and tell him again I cannot go to KOTS, it’s a death sentence for my medical condition and total disability. He then wants to know what’s wrong with me. I tell him the details and he is surprised. Apparently nobody in the God damn court system ever believed or read the medical records. He writes down my conditions.

From email 2, Rick to his probation officer:

The cardiologist is preparing medical records. They should have them Monday.

The main hospital records are very important, and they are volumes. I can give you authorization to obtain them.

FYI, when I received total disability under SSDI (attached verification), that automatically triggers Medicaid full coverage.

When Medicaid kicked in, I went to the LKMC and met with the administration to inform them to contact Medicaid for the two 30+ day hospitalizations I had at near fatal levels (more on that in a minute). She looked up just those two, and Medicaid paid the hospital $650,000 + dollars for me. That triggered the hospital, Dr. Michael McIvor (cardiologist), Dr. Catana (orthopedic), and the doctors who treated me on the 20+ visits to the LKMC, 20+ to Dr. McIvor, 10+ to Catana being paid over the last couple years over (I am sure) $1,350,000. $2,000,000 in treatment. And, think of that, how bad do you think I have suffered, how afraid I am of setting off any condition. Almost everything out there is dangerous and is life threatening to me. Think that I have “contributed” to this community? Especially health care professionals, ambulance companies, etc.

Although it is not justified, I said I stayed at KOTS only because I did not know I could just be homeless and report to you daily. In the hospital when I was being treated for almost dying from MRSA infection I got from KOTS, the first doctor that diagnosed me in the emergency room said never go back to KOTS again, i.e. I am at too high a risk medically to survive that place. He said at KOTS there is AIDS, Hepatitis C, TB, Scabies, Lice, MRSA, and a bunch of unknown flu, colds, emphysema, and on and on. The ailments are abundant, those snappers all have something serious. They leave KOTS and go lay in the Mangroves drinking “Natty Ice” and Skol vodka and smoke spice all day. They wallow in the primordial soup, getting infected and acquiring diseases from each other and out of the swamp. I didn’t tell you I was homeless because I was afraid I would have to go to KOTS, simple as that. It was me trying not to die. Not dodging or trying escape or anything else…

As I was checking out of the ICU 11 days later for the MRSA treatment, Dr. Attila said the same thing – never go to KOTS. When I asked Art Powell, the PA for Dr. McIvor – same. The emergency room folks will all say the same. The City of Key West are basically forcing people into an overnight concentration camp, shoddily built, extremely dangerous electrically…

Dr. McIvor told me initially that I could either take the zillion doses of medications and possibly live, or I was on a short countdown to death. He put me on a heart transplant list. Although the results of my ailments are known, Dr. McIvor said he had studied every test and analysis of me and could not determine why. Later he told me he was stunned I didn’t die within six months. Reassuring words to a guy that thought I was issued a death sentence to KOTS for something I never did, and for which I spent 117 days in the jail. 117 days until I had to plea just to get proper medical treatment from specialists and facilities that are capable of doing so. Getting out knowing my sentence was to stay at KOTS and die from likely die from it.

I have had total renal failure and barely escaped a permanent dialysis machine in Jackson Memorial in Miami. There is a whole lot more. Get the records from the hospital and you be shocked.

Like I said, I will dutifully call you at around noon every day and let you know where I am at. I can’t be a flight risk. I wouldn’t do it if I were healthy, and I certainly am not going anywhere in my condition with the treatments I get.

Justice is not served caging me up with substandard medical help and facilities. I mean 117 days and all this for something I never did.

From email 3, Rick to his probation officer:

Here is the prescription drug list:

10MG Cyclobenzaprine (3 daily)

10MG Coumadin (blood thinning rat poison)

100MG Colace

5MG Lisinopril

200MG Amiodarone

12.5MG Carvedilol (twice a day)

10MEQ Cap Potassium (twice a day)

5MG Amlodipine

20MG Pravastatin

20MG Furosemide

100MG Temazepan (twice at once)

Rick was charged and prosecuted for assault and battery on a person over 62 years of age, which is a felony in Florida. The person was Tim Gratz, whom I have known for some time. Gratz also was homeless. In the police incident report, Gratz had no visible injuries. Gratz claimed Roberts yanked his arm and injured his shoulder, and he, Gratz, was put in fear for his life. Roberts claimed Gratz attacked him. Roberts said he left the scene, then cops came and asked him what had happened and he told them, and they took him to jail, because Gratz had called 911. I later learned from former State Attorney Dennis Ward, that as a general rule, if someone calls 911 and claims he/she was assaulted, the other person is arrested and taken to jail.

Rick told me he intended to take his case before a jury, but the jail infirmary was not up to treating his awful medical conditions, he was dying, so he finally agreed to take a deferred adjudication plea and be put on probation, just so he could get out of the jail and get proper medical treatment.

Right now, Rick is back in the hospital on Stock Island, being treated again for MRSA and dehydration. If they don’t keep him in there a month, or longer, under an IV antibiotic drip, they will not kill the MRSA and it will return. He has Medicare and Medicaid. They get paid well for treating him at the hospital. I hope this time they won’t make him leave before he is healed of the MRSA. I hope this time he doesn’t make himself leave before he is healed of the MRSA. Google image MRSA to see what a terrible domestic terrorist it truly is.

Rick told me he once was a super-level FAA air traffic controller, in Houston, Texas. Once, he directed Air Force One. On the side, and after he finally stopped working for the FAA, he owned and operated a successful computer and IT business. Then, he got sick. Then, he was homeless. I am having trouble seeing how he will ever pull out of the nose dive with that level of medical trouble. In his shoes, I might just get drunk and step in front of a city transit bus and get it over with. But that’s not how a raccoon thinks.

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