For seven days “Joel” sat in his wheelchair in an alley next to the Chavarria’s Boxing Club on Staples Street. Only Thursday did an ambulance crew come to check on him, finding enough wrong with him to take him to the hospital.
“We’ve all been trying to get him some help,” boxing gym owner Ernesto Chavarria said. “Sometimes we take him into the gym and feed him.”
Chavarria says he also reported Joel to Adult Protective Services. He says a case worker came out to investigate and is still working the case. Then Chavarria turned to the Good Samaritan Rescue mission homeless shelter just down the same alley where Joel sat. But that didn’t provide the answer he was looking for.
Shelter Executive Director Carole Murphrey told him Good Samaritan welcomes people in wheelchairs, but they must be able to eat, move, take pills, bathe, and go to the bathroom themselves. Joel can’t.
“He needs a nursing home kind of service, because he can’t really move himself in the wheelchair,” Murphrey said.
It’s not clear what will happen to Joel once he gets out of the hospital. An Adult Protective Services spokesperson says the agency can’t stop him from returning to the streets if he wants to unless they get a court order saying he’s not competent enough to make that decision. The spokesperson says he’s not aware of any government run nursing homes. That means someone will possibly have to make special accommodations for Joel. Chavarria and Murphrey are hoping for the best.
“Somebody brought him over here,” Chavarria said. “He’s got a brand new wheelchair. I don’t know what’s going on.”
“God loves each one of these folks,” Murphrey said. “They’re created in his image, and they have value to him, and there’s got to be some kind of answer for this.”