Lakewood Regional Seeks Family, Friends Of 80-Year-Old Patient
2011-05-12 · By Editor
Unclaimed. It’s an adjective typically ascribed to inanimate objects, not people.
But Austin Small, a jovial stroke survivor who has been a patient since Jan. 11 at Lakewood Regional Medical Center, is unclaimed. Although he can remember his name and birth date, March 6, 1931, there’s little else he’s able to communicate to the doctors, nurses and fellow patients who have been his only bedside visitors.
He celebrated his 80th birthday this month from a hospital bed, a bed that has become his only home. Despite his situation, Mr. Small smiles and doesn’t complain — he’s a clear favorite among the staff.
While Mr. Small said he is feeling better, he remains unable to speak clearly and unable to walk. He is never expected to fully recover from what doctors said was a massive stroke, and he cannot be released until a safe, appropriate discharge can be made to a family member, friend or care facility.
For now, with hospital bands around his wrists and an IV bag plugged into his arm, the husband, father and (likely) grandfather, will have to stay in the hospital, repeating the same incoherent words over and over again in a pleasantly confused tone.
Since no family has been found, Mr. Small’s stay at Lakewood Regional is indefinite.
“We are trying to located family or a significant other,” said Jeff Curel, the hospital’s manager of social services. “We might get a couple of cases like this — two or three — a year, but we usually have success by now through fingerprinting or missing persons checks…”
“It is not uncommon for stroke victims to experience memory loss and confusion,” Cruel said, adding that Mr. Small is aware he is in the hospital and receiving medical care.
Because the tall, black man with white hair and only two bottom teeth came to the hospital on foot, Mr. Small is believed to have lived in the Lakewood or Long Beach area within walking distance to the hospital. He also may have worked or lived recently in Costa Mesa or El Centro.
Mr. Small has stated that he was born and raised in the country of Trinidad. He was married to Vida (or Vita) Small and had two children, Kurt and Tiffany. Mr. Small indicated that his family lives in Houston or Fife, Texas.
“All of them, I want to see all of them,” Mr. Small said when asked about his family.
Additionally, Mr. Small, who has a thick Caribbean accent, has communicated that he has worked in the past at grocery stores as well as at a fast food chain that sells chicken.
Lakewood Regional staff asks that anyone with information about Mr. Small contact the hospital’s social services department at (562) 602-6787.