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Island resident Raymond Serrata is uninsured and has depended on the medical branch for health care. About six years ago, Serrata had a swollen leg and was suffering from cellulitis, a skin infection caused by bacteria. The medical branch admitted him into the hospital, where he stayed about four days for treatment with heavy doses of antibiotics.

Although eligible for emergency housing the woman had no furniture, no transportation and desperately wanted to retrieve some belongings from the apartment that had been her home for many years. The Jesse Tree dispatched a team to accompany the case-worker and her client to see how they could help resolve this sad situation. Despite the filth and destruction of the flood, the dear woman found some pots and pans, a chair and a few remnants of her former life.

Late last month, Serrata, 52, again sought treatment for a swollen leg. Although the medical branch emergency room doctors saw him, they prescribed antibiotics and sent him home. Federal laws require that emergency rooms stabilize patients. But they don’t have to admit them into the hospital. There would be no long, costly hospital stay.

Serrata said his condition worsened, and he went to the emergency room at Mainland Medical Center, where he was admitted June 30 and stayed for seven days.

While the medical branch was friendly, it wasn’t the same charity provider he remembered from years ago.

“I had gone in for the same thing years ago, and they took good care of me,” Serrata said. “They were nice, but it’s not the same.”

Serrata is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 350 pounds. He suffers from arthritis in his knees, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and high blood pressure, he said. His illnesses prevent him from working, he said.

When discharged from Mainland Medical, he had no way to pay for medications or buy a hospital bed to keep his leg elevated.

The Jesse Tree provided a hospital bed and helped him pay for prescriptions at a nearby pharmacy.

But The Jesse Tree also signed Serrata up for classes on healthy eating. Serrata likes the classes and other participants. He looks forward to changing his lifestyle and feeling better, he said.

“Everybody wants to live a better, healthier life; that’s our common bond,” Serrata said.

Story taken from Galveston Daily Newspaper, July 22, 2012.