The human cost of heat: Curtis Adam Goldman, 35

Friday, 13 October 2017, 07:54:30 PM. In his final moments, Curtis Goldman experienced the sort of humanity from the doctors and nurses surrounding him at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital that he had not encountered in a decade.

Curtis Adam Goldman, 35

In his final moments, Curtis Goldman experienced the sort of humanity from the doctors and nurses surrounding him at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital that he had not encountered in a decade.

“If he had been treated with this kind of dignity in the last 10 years, maybe he would have held on,” his mother, Deborah, said, describing his last hours.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner ruled that Curtis Goldman died of complications due to a cardiac arrest in the setting of acute chronic drug abuse and probable heat stress. He was 35.

He was found still alive on Aug. 7, 2016, in the courtyard of an apartment complex. Temperatures crested at 109 degrees that day in Phoenix. On Aug. 13, medical officials began to harvest his organs.

Curtis fell through the cracks of the state’s behavioral health case management system, according to his mother. His life was mired with mental health issues. At 18, he had what Deborah Goldman called “a complete psychotic split.”

He battled drug addiction, more recently using crystal meth. By then, he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was homeless, his mother said.

“[Meth] was the only thing that gave him some temporary solace for the few minutes it kicked in,” she said.

Meth can increase a user’s body temperature, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“People with mental illness who use drugs are sent to prison rather than being mandated to comprehensive treatment,” Deborah Goldman wrote in a text message to a reporter following an interview.

In the months leading up to his death, court records paint a picture of a seriously mentally ill man running out of places to go.

In late June, Curtis began yelling about the government trying to control him while at a behavioral health services organization. He became so agitated, he struck an employee in the head. The company brought an injunction against him, ordering him to stay away. It was the second injunction from that company, but at a different location.

Curtis was born in Washington, D.C. and moved to New York state when he was 8 years old. Goldman remembers her son loved soccer and wrestling. In his teenage years he learned to mix his own CDs and loved Bob Marley.

He came to Arizona in his early 20s to attend a long-term treatment program in Wickenburg. He stayed for a week and then, at midnight on Mother’s Day that year, Goldman was dropped off at a homeless shelter.

That was just the beginning of a long descent into Arizona’s correctional and social programs.

He was once incarcerated for washing a needle with a hose outside of a Circle K convenience store, Deborah said. Court records do not specifically describe that offense, but he was cited at an address next to a Circle K for trespassing.

Other charges racked up. He spent years in prison. Some of those years, his mother said, were spent in solitary confinement.

“He wasn’t treated like a human being,” she said. “Not at all. He was an inconvenience.”

But to her, Curtis was a human being, a sweet young man, she remembers, with a “beautiful soul” who would share anything he had, even when there was not much left for him to give. Her son was the 13-year-old boy who offered to give all the money he received at his Bar Mitzvah to charity.

At the very end of his life, Curtis Goldman donated what he had left: his organs.

His mother is not sure if her son was mentally competent when he agreed to the donation before he was found in August. The process was heart wrenching for the whole family. Deborah had watched her son languish for so many years. And she had fought.

“I couldn’t get through to him,” she said. “Nobody could.”

The family went through with Curtis’ organ donation. His Maricopa County court record continued to grow even after he died. The county attorney’s office filed a shoplifting charge in January, more than four months after Curtis died. The case was dismissed in July.

“He was barely existing,” Deborah said. “He was treated like he was not an ant on the ground, like he was dirt that they could kick around. And he didn’t deserve that.”

 

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Article The human cost of heat: Curtis Adam Goldman, 35 compiled by www.azcentral.com