Jack needed to know I was committed to helping him get better, and he needed to learn to participate in that care. And now, he really has a chance to make it.
Katherine, Casey House Community Program Registered Nurse
Jack is a survivor of “The 60’s Scoop,” the transfer of many thousands of Aboriginal children to non-Aboriginal foster families. Those deep childhood wounds continue to haunt him. After the loss of his wife to HIV/AIDS, his daily life became preoccupied with securing alcohol when he could afford it; Listerine when he couldn’t.
Fortunately, he is a deeply tenacious man. “He’s has had to be, to survive,” observes his Casey House registered nurse, Katherine, whom Jack affectionately calls “Bigfoot” because of her height. His health issues are complex. In addition to HIV infection, mental health and substance use issues, Jack has severe bilateral leg ulcers that require frequent dressings. He also has gastric and autoimmune complications that are made much worse by his unstable housing and erratic access to food.
“In his whole life, Jack has never had a consistent support network. He’s never had a trusting relationship with a health care provider,” comments Katherine. Time and again, she would locate him at his regular benches and parkettes. “He still calls out, ‘Oh no! Here comes Bigfoot!’ and pretends to be scared of me when I approach,” she laughs. “But he’s come to trust me.”
Today, instead of having both legs amputated – once a very real scenario–Jack is now connected to health care specialists. He’s learning how to change his own dressings, gaining the confidence in managing his health that he has not had his entire life. He’s even started to advise his friends living with HIV on the street to come to Casey House for care. This is was unimaginable only months ago, when the thought of seeing a doctor filled him with dread and fear.
“What’s really key for being able to treat Jack effectively is the fact that I have the time, thanks to funding through the Casey House community program, to be more adaptable and flexible than one would normally be in the regular health care system,” comments Katherine. “He needed to know I was committed to helping him get better, and he needed to learn to participate in that care. And now, he really has a chance to make it.”
Too many individuals like Jack live on the streets of Toronto, struggling alone with HIV and other complex health care issues. Thanks to our generous donors, Casey House community nurses are treating hundreds of Toronto’s most vulnerable men and women, ensuring that they receive excellent health care, with the dignity and compassion that we all deserve.
Thank you for your support of Casey House community programs, and for making this challenging and truly extraordinary care possible.