~ Foundation refuses him food ~
ST. JOHNS–Leroy Hodge is recovering from surgery that went bad in Colombia in 2016 and has been a patient at White and Yellow Cross facilities since June. He was informed on Monday by management of the facilities that he is being discharged and has to leave immediately.
Hodge underwent extensive surgery in Colombia and suffered major complications that resulted in his being paralysed from the neck down. He was sent back to Colombia to undergo a second surgery and was told that he would have to stay in the country to get therapy to regain strength.
He was on the dime of Social Health Insurance SZV and, according to Hodge, SZV told doctors in Colombia that there is a facility in St. Maarten that can handle his rehabilitation.
“I was transported on a stretcher to the airport in Colombia and brought back to the island and placed home for my girlfriend and my seven children to take care of me,” said Hodge. “After almost three months home and back and forth with SZV they finally placed me in the care of the White and Yellow Cross Care facility in St. Johns in June this year. I got better, no lie, and started to get back strength to my upper body, but I am unable to walk at the moment.
“Since hurricane Irma struck the island on September 6, my home was badly damaged and my entire roof is gone and we don’t have any water and light. My girlfriend is doing her best to take care of the children. When they visit me, I save some of my food and give it to them because times are very hard,
“There is a kitchen helper who works at White and Yellow Cross Foundation home that helped me with extra food in my plate for the children and I was very grateful, but things took a turn when he asked me if I can get him a firearm. I have no idea why he asked a disabled man for a gun, but I told him that he has no way of getting a gun or any plans to get one for anyone.
“We had a shouting match at the home and it was very heated. He came to my face and started to push me around telling me, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ I was helpless and continued to use the only thing I can use which is my mouth by insulting him.”
Management stepped in and calmed the situation and Hodge was informed that he would have to leave the property on Monday. Hodge requested a meeting with management to resolve the situation, which was honoured. At the meeting, Hodge and the kitchen helper got in another shouting match and nurses had to intervene.
“I do not understand how a staff member is threatening me and use vulgarity against me and management is saying that the safety of the staff comes first before patients. I got out of hand by cursing, yes, but I am here to get better. How can I do that if there is a staff member giving me such a hard time? Is almost that he enjoys preying on people who can’t defend themselves,” said Hodge.
The foundation has not fed Hodge since Saturday and no caretaker has helped him to bathe. Nurses told him that he is not allowed to get any assistance, according to management.
Hodge reached out to Minister of Social Affairs Emil Lee for assistance, but management told the Minister that their decision is final and the Minister cannot intervene, as the foundation is just being subsidised by Government. Hodge was informed by White and Yellow Cross Operations Manager Bregje Boetekees that he will have to go home and a taxi will be called for him to leave.
“Thanks to Herbert Martina, who brought food and water for me, but they are really treating me as if I am not a human. Even prisoners get better treatment right now,” said Hodge.
He informed Boetekees that his home is not liveable and there is no roof. “She told me that they will ask the military to put a tarpaulin on the house and I will have to leave and the decision is final. No water. How will I take care of myself?
“The children which are small and my girlfriend had to go through the ordeal to bathe me daily and bring me to the bathroom when I did number 1 and 2. This is wrong. I tried to contact SZV and request assistance, but the person I used to deal with is not working there anymore and I do not know who to contact now. I am in a wheelchair after all,” added Hodge.
At present, Hodge is still at the facility, as he was told that an employee had gone to his home to see if his home roof is indeed gone and the worker told management that he has no roof. He was told that the military has been contacted and once the tarpaulin is placed, he would be escorted home and placed there.
This newspaper reached out to the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation for comment about the case and was told by Boetekees that the foundation does not comment on clients and their situation, as it upholds client confidentiality.
“Our foundation goes above and beyond to deliver high quality care. However, the safety and security of our employees comes first, always. In my 17 years with the Foundation this is the first time I was forced to take a firm decision to safeguard our employee’s safety. This shows that it was not done lightly and with good reason,” she said.
When asked how a half-paralysed patient could pose a threat to anyone, she again said she would not go into the specifics of the case.
Minister Lee was also contacted by this newspaper about the incident and said questions should be directed to the White and Yellow Cross.
Hodge maintains that all he wants to do is get better and leave the facility walking instead of in a wheelchair.
“I hope that I can be treated like a human and not an animal. I was wrong for cursing with the worker, but he is the one who asked me for a gun. He is the one who put his hands on me and he was suspended, according to management, but still comes to work daily. I have nothing to go back home right now. I would like to recover and start providing for my seven children,” said Hodge.