- Faith & Family
Readers may recall our recent front page story [Feb. 27 - March 5], “Disappeared: A tale of falling through the cracks,” that described the fears of one local family whose brother, 59-year-old Willie Lee Newman, disappeared after being taken to the University of Miami Hospital’s
emergency room on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Newman’s two sisters and closest relatives, Geraldine Murray, 60 and Everlena Brown, 55, were even more concerned because their brother has long been treated for schizophrenia. In fact, he was residing in a state-approved assisted living facility [ALF] when he complained to the site manager, Sivia Medina, that he was feeling ill and was subsequently sent by ambulance to the hospital.
But there is finally good news for the family and friends of Newman. According to Murray, he had been seen on a Miami bus stop, unable to walk, but he was alive.
“I got a call from the police a few weeks ago and they told me that Willie was in the hospital,” Murray said. “We had gone to The Miami Times, the police and our church asking for help. That story you wrote really helped get the word out — more people kept an eye out for my brother.”
Murray anticipates her brother remaining hospitalized for sometime, as both of his feet are swollen and infected due to exposure. In the meantime, she and her sister are making sure he won’t get “lost” again.
“We were disappointed that we had to tell the police that Willie had been found instead of them getting the word first and alerting us,” Murray added. “Maybe they have too many people like him to look for. We definitely won’t be putting him back in an ALF, especially the one he was living in. They have yet to call and ask our family if he was found or is alive — they just didn’t seem to care. Places like that need to be forced to do a better job and pay more attention to their residents. Willie has a social worker that is handling his case and we’re looking for a nursing home for him. I am serving as his proxy. This time, he won’t fall through the cracks.”
By D. Kevin McNeir