WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The number of people suffering from frostbite in Wichita has continued to rise.
Via Christi hospital officials said as of Tuesday, there have been 17 frostbite cases in 2018. That’s a major increase from previous years.
“We have seen a huge influx in frostbite patients. Usually, we see two per year,” said Via Christi St. Francis Registered Nurse Dana Friesen.
Eddie Chronister has been recovering from frostbite in the hospital’s burn unit since January 1, 2018.
“I am very blessed. I’m lucky to be alive,” Chronister said.
Chronister said he started his New Years Eve like many other people, but he said what happened to him next drastically changed his life.
“I just sat there and drank my bottle. Made a mistake and went to sleep in the cold rather than going back home to camp,” he said. “The next thing I know I’m waking up in this hospital bed with a breathing tube, strapped down so I don’t hurt myself, my hands were frozen into fists.”
Chronister, who is homeless, said he fell asleep outside for several hours. He suffered frostbite to his ear, feet and hands despite having on multiple layers and gloves.
“From pretty much the wrist all the way up, I have lost all my skin, all my fingernails,” Chronister said.
Hospital officials said a majority of the 17 frostbite patients didn’t realize how quickly frostbite can set in.
“They may not feel like anything is wrong at first, but then as they might warm up they might have an increase in pain, start to swell, it’s going to turn purple and black and blue,” Friesen said.
Despite the frostbite, Chronister injuries are healing.
“At first they didn’t even think I was going to be able to keep my hands, but God is good basically,” he said.