Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Friday, August 17, 2012

New announcement: Sick, homeless veteran falling through cracks in system

Sick, homeless veteran falling through cracks in system

Homeless vet Conrad Colpitts, has been repeatedly bounced between shelter and hospital
CBC News
Posted: Aug 17, 2012 4:45 PM AT
Last Updated: Aug 17, 2012 4:44 PM AT
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Workers in the Halifax homeless community say a veteran who has bounced between shelters and hospital for the last two days is slipping through the cracks in the system.

Conrad Colpitts, 58, returned from Alberta looking for family members in Nova Scotia about a week and a half ago.

But without an income, and ill because he hadn't been able to afford medication, Colpitts ended up staying in a small apartment run by the Salvation Army's Centre of Hope shelter.

Due to his poor health and need for treatment, staff at the shelter sent him to the QEII emergency room on Wednesday.

After being treated he was discharged and sent to Metro Turning Point shelter, which was unable to accept him for health reasons.

He was then sent back to the emergency room.

The Salvation Army says Colpitts is too sick to stay in a shelter.

Paul Craig, housing support worker with the Salvation Army, says that there comes a point when shelters can no longer look after individuals.

"When someone is at a point where they can't physically tend to themselves, clean themselves, look after themselves, change themselves — there's an issue there that this is somebody that needs more support than just staying in a shelter can offer," said Craig.

Though Colpitts lists a number of medical problems, keeping his diabetes under control is the main concern.

"Double vision, disoriented, short term memory loss, shaking, trembling, couldn't stand, had mobility problems," Colpitts said, describing his symptoms.

He's also had a lower bowel operation and uses a colostomy bag.

The hospital arranges places at shelters for discharged homeless patients almost daily, but John Gillis, media relations advisor for Capital Health, stated it would, "never discharge people out of the department without accommodation if there is any concern for their well-being."

"The biggest factor in doing that is the capacity of shelters, and shelters often don't know what beds they may have available until late day. Shelters have the ability to accept or not accept people, based on a range of factors."

Local veterans' advocates say they're worried Colpitts' condition would deteriorate in a shelter. They say he should be in a long-term care facility.

Veterans Affairs Canada has now taken over Colpitts' case.

Colpitts says he served in the navy between 1971 and 1975.

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