Near one of London, Ontario’s busiest intersections, rests Tom, a 59-year-old with a double amputee.
It’s Monday morning and Tom has been on the ground for almost four days, just outside the grounds of the London Health Sciences Centre’s Victoria Hospital campus.
Tom is sad that most of the people driving by don’t notice him.
“You’re a human being, just like me, and as such, you could very well be in this position,” he yells.
But not all pass. On Thursday, shortly after Tom said he was discharged from the LHSC with pressure ulcers, he was noticed by Tyler Calver. He’s a London-based medical assistant student, and Tyler says he learned Tom’s story quickly.
“Tom is dependent on a power wheelchair because he is a double amputee. So his wheelchair was loaded up in the ER [at LHSC] and he brought it about here [Wellington and Commissioners] where it died,” explains Tyler.
Since then, Tyler has been trying to help.
Tom is seen outside LHSC’s Victoria Hospital campus on November 14, 2022. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)
He says he’s called every agency he can think of, but as of early Monday afternoon, Tom is still lying on the grass.
“We have blankets here for about four days,” explains Tyler. “It’s just stacked one on top of the other. They are covered only with urine, feces and blood. It’s a shame that this is happening on our streets.”
Tom, who grew up in London, says he’s been homeless for almost five years. He also admits he can be difficult to get along with, which limited his shelter options.
“No, they tell me you can’t come in. They tell me, ‘We don’t want you here.'”
But after having both his legs removed and parts of his fingers lost to frostbite, Tom knows he’s in dire need of care.
“Ultimately, I really need permanent housing, and I mean permanent housing,” he says.
Tyler agrees, telling CTV News London: “There’s no more waiting! We have to do that now!”
Bernadette Cassin offers Tom a cup of coffee and a muffin on November 14, 2022. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)
Many, including Bernadette Cassin, agree. She is among those who stopped by to offer Tom hot drinks and food.
“That shouldn’t happen here. These people need help and hopefully our new council can come up with some suggestions as it’s getting worse and worse,” she explains.
With Tom literally stuck in a pressurized system, he has only those who take care of it to thank – including Tyler.
“Because if it weren’t for the will of God that I’m alive and for Tyler to come over and do what he does, I [wouldn’t] be right here,” he says. “I would have been dead by now”
Tyler plans to work with newly found supporters to seek both short- and long-term care for Tom and has already sent Tom’s power chair in for repairs.
Tune in Monday night for more of Tom’s story on CTV News at 6.