Poverty is a precarious and expensive situation, with little room for error, and just about everything at stake. “If Nancy hadn’t taken Irving to the hospital when she did, he would have most likely died from his ankle infection.”
Irving grew up in Tunbridge, Vermont, and worked for a local construction company for most of his life. Then, after 40 years of marriage, his wife left him and things began to fall apart. He lost motivation, and ultimately ended up losing his stable construction job, and the benefits that went along with it. For several years he did odd jobs to earn income until he was able to collect social security. At that point he started leaning on churches and local social service agencies to help him make ends meet. About four years ago, Irving hurt his ankle and had surgery; but because he neglected it after the operation, it didn’t heal well and he eventually ended up in a wheelchair. Because he could no longer drive, he gave up his car. He began taking the bus from a local motel to the Haven five days per week to have coffee and some food. It was a comfort to him to check in at a familiar place once a day, and Community Case Manager Nancy Chase began to keep a special eye out for him. As Irving says, the Haven became a sort of second family to him. He celebrated his 80th birthday in June on one of his daily visits. A month ago, he came in one morning feeling especially weak and his ankle and legs were very swollen and hot. As his story unfolded that day, Nancy discovered that he had fallen the night before, and required EMTs to get him back up. He was unable to shower, and take care of his personal hygiene, and was embarrassed about the predicament he had caused for himself, but still came on the bus to the Haven. Nancy swung into action, convincing him to talk by phone with his primary care provider and then going to a community hospital with which he felt comfortable. Nancy rounded up a wheelchair accessible van, drove him there herself, and stayed with him until he was admitted and stable. It turned out the infection had spread to his leg bone and was life threatening. Over the course of a couple of weeks he agreed to transfer to DHMC where his leg was amputated but his life saved. Irving now resides at Brookside Nursing Home, with the care he needs, recovering from his surgery and working on his rehabilitation; and Nancy pays him regular visits on the way home from work. We are hopeful that Irving will be strong enough to get a prosthetic leg and move into assisted living. Irving and Nancy have a special relationship forged through patience, time and caring. “When I first met Nancy, I knew I found someone with a big heart.” – Irving “He’s a peach! All woolly and rough on the outside and sweet and soft on the inside.” – Nancy Chase, Haven Community Case Manager
The Haven Through 40 Years
The Haven will commemorate its four decades of service to the region by releasing 40 stories of people, events, ideas, and services fundamental to our mission. We will be releasing these stories weekly, so check back often.