Lack of accessible housing keeps Calgary man in hospital months after spinal cord injury

A Calgary man who uses a wheelchair after suffering a spinal cord injury has been living in hospital for months because he has been unable to find accessible housing.

Patrick Lewis uses a wheelchair after a mountain bike crash left him paralyzed

Patrick Lewis, 23, who suffered a spinal cord injury last year, might have to be placed in a long-term care facility because he has not been able to find wheelchair-accessible housing. (CBC)

A Calgary man has been living in hospital for months because he has no place to call home.

Patrick Lewis had a mountain biking accident last October that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

He was supposed to be released from the Foothills hospital in January, but the 23-year-old — who now uses a wheelchair — has not been able to find accessible housing.

“There’s not really anything for housing for me right now,” he said.

"I keep having discharge dates and don't go anywhere. That's pretty stressful. I just want to get out so someone else can take the bed."

Now Lewis might be placed in a long-term care facility.

I don`t really want to go to a long-term care facility at my age, 23 years old- Patrick Lewis 

“I don’t really want to go to a long-term care facility at my age, 23 years old,” he said.

"I wouldn't need any care at all. It's just mostly stairs. I’m ready to get back in the community and lead a normal life again.”

The predicament facing Lewis is too common, says Jeff Dyer, executive director of Accessible Housing Calgary, a non-profit group that helps find and provide places to live for people with limited mobility.

“The challenge though is that we have such a shortage of affordable and accessible housing in our city that people like Patrick end up staying far longer in hospital than they would otherwise,” he said.

“We haven’t built our community to make space for people who are in a wheelchair, or for that matter, for an aging population, for them to maintain independence by living in their home.”

Barry Lindeman, who provides peer support for people with spinal cord injuries, says the situation breaks his heart.  

"All these condos that go up, if they could make a few accessible it'd be wonderful and help alleviate the backlog of guys like Patrick having to stay in the hospital,” he said. 


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