Monday, June 18, 2012

A Few Things I Learned About Key West

Written on May 26, 2012; delayed posting.

As May 2012 comes to a blessed end, I look back at some of the things I've learned about Key West this month.

1.  The local hospital, Lower Keys Medical Center, is a privately owned and operated hospital, the only such institution within 50 miles.  It provides an acceptable level of care for general medical patients.  Some residents who are able to afford to do so prefer to commit their more serious ailments to one of the major hospital centers in Miami.

     Janet was a patient there for 17 days this month dealing with her diabetes and some other issues.  We had a close-up look at the way the hospital is run and found it, as I said, acceptable.  The care team consists of nurses, nursing assistants, and the people who clean, deliver meals, provide security, and the like.  Janet had a run-in with just one bad provider, a nurse, who managed to get herself transferred off the care unit to another, further away, after Janet complained to the nursing manager.

     Janet is on a good path to a full recovery, albeit with injected insulin added to her medication regimen.

     The building itself grows old, though well-maintained.  Janet's room was a semi-private, but she had it to herself most to he time she was in there.

2.  Visiting the hospital twice a day, I learned something about the evening trek by residents of KOTS, the Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter.  They begin to arrive from their daytime locations in the early evening, and congregate on both sides of College Road awaiting the time when the Shelter opens at 6:00 or 7:00 PM, I'm not sure which.  Some sit in little impromptu camps, bicycles, some with trailers, all around.

     I'm aware that there are plans afoot to build an expanded shelter, one that would operate twenty-four hours a day, furnishing beds at night, and what is being called day care during the daytime.  I view that as an opportunity to separate wheat from chaff, identifying those who are capable of getting out of the homeless system and supporting them with a variety of services designed to give a hand-up to help them do that.  That would leave the irredeemable to continue to return to the streets, where some will beg for hand-outs, gather at the beaches and elsewhere to party on for another day, hoping to perhaps return for another night's rest at KOTS.  The rest, those who shun KOTS entirely, head instead to their night-time hiding places, where drinking and drugging is still possible.

3.  There are people, believe it or not, who fancy themselves as travel writers and put themselves out there as knowledgeable about a place, when it is apparent to anyone who lives there that they really don't know much, and might not even have been here before.  One such is Isabelle Kellogg, who published a review of Key West and Miami Beach on Epoch Times, an on-line and in-print (only in NYC) news aggregator whose true purpose isn't all that clear to me.

     At any rate, this Isabelle Kellogg recommends The Deli restaurant as a top-notch place to eat in Key West, apparently unaware that The Deli went out of business at least three years ago, that it has been two other restaurants since then, first Eat n' Grinn, and most recently the Bengla Deli (now closed).  The building has been leased by Better Than Sex, a dessert restaurant the has been on Petronia Street for a couple of years.  Some locals question the judgement of the owners in moving to Truman and Simonton and enlarging the seating area.  Time will tell.

4.  When we were living on the Thompson Estate, we became interested in the life of Ernest Hemingway, and especially in the years that he lived here with Pauline.  We often sat on the same veranda where the Hemingways (Ernest and Pauline) and the Thompsons (Charles and Lorine) sat many decades earlier, entertaining each other and their respective friends.  I just discovered that there's a new Hemingway biographical film coming on HBO.  It focuses on his relationship with Martha Gellhorn, the woman who lured him away from his second wife, Pauline, and with whom he had a stormy relationship that ended that marriage after five rocky years.  The HBO movie is getting mixed reviews and, since we don't subscribe to HBO, we probably won't see it until it comes to Netflix.

  As I end, the rain has started.  On Weatherbug, the showers look to be widely scattered.  A rainy Saturday in Key West is the perfect kind of day to stay in and get caught up on things deferred for hospital visits.

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