Covid almost broke this hospital. It may also be what saves him.

At any one time, there are approximately 150 patients admitted to Wyckoff Hospital, who stay an average of 4.6 days; around forty others occupy the emergency room. But in the midst of this turnover, one patient, in recent months, has been a constant: Rodolfo Parris.

In March, Mr Parris arrived by ambulance, unable to walk. A barber by trade, Mr Parris, 53, was admitted with failing kidneys and festering leg ulcers.

Her infections were treated and her wounds began to heal. He should have been released a few weeks after his admission, but his flat – a floor with no lift – was now inaccessible. Each step was one too many.

Although he was a child when he emigrated to New York from Panama, he has no legal status there. It means no qualified nursing home – where he could receive wound care and dialysis – has yet been willing to admit him. The government generally does not reimburse nursing homes for the care of undocumented immigrants.

So last summer, Mr Parris spent his days in his hospital bed, reading the Bible, watching crime shows and telling visitors about better days, like when Christopher Wallace, the rapper known as name of Notorious BIG, came to his hair salon for a cut. . Sometimes Mr. Parris would stare furiously at the wheelchair that lay folded and intact in the corner of the room. It was a gift from the hospital.

“They’re talking about releasing me and sending me to a wheelchair,” he recently said. “I don’t have anyone to push me around.” Many hospitals have long-term residents – patients like Mr Parris, who have nowhere to go and do not get out easily. They weigh on hospital bottom lines as insurance companies and Medicaid are reluctant to pay for visits that go on indefinitely. But Mr. Parris’ presence speaks to a role that these types of hospitals often play: housing a few patients that no one else will take.

Manhattan’s major hospitals also have these types of patients, but they offset the expense with a much higher number of profitable patients — those with commercial insurance or those needing heart or orthopedic surgery.

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