John Doe No. 24, the Howard University Hospital patient found unconscious five months ago near a loading dock in Shaw, has been identified as Donald Eugene Bailey, 38, of Capitol Hill.

"Praise God, we found him!" exclaimed his mother, Desiree L. Bailey, after a brief visit with her son yesterday. An ambulance had brought him to Howard on Feb. 22. He has not regained consciousness, and because he had no identification, he was labeled John Doe No. 24, the 24th such admission of the year.

Bailey's mother, who lives in the 5th Police District, said she first notified the police March 6 that her son was missing. She said she filed a second report on March 30. "And we had someone check the shelters and the hospitals but we didn't come up with anyone," she said.

Meanwhile, security officers for the hospital, located in the 3rd Police District, filed a missing person report in March. They provided a description of John Doe No. 24 and the date of his arrival at the hospital, hospital officials said.

The police department, which handled 1,201 missing person cases in the six-month period ending June 30, is trying to determine why the link wasn't made.

"It sounds like there wasn't sufficient coordination among different parts of the police department," said Shannon Cockett, a police spokeswoman. "We would have to take a look at how it was handled and what, if anything, could be done to make sure that similar cases do not occur."

Police might have been able to identify the patient through fingerprints, but the hospital never asked for a fingerprint check, said Lt. Joseph Griffith, head of the police Missing Persons Division.

Hospital officials said they could not explain why the patient's fingerprints were not checked with police.

"There was ongoing communication between hospital security and {3rd District} police . . . but I'm not sure our security officers pressed for a fingerprint check," said hospital spokesman Norman Brooks.

The patient was identified after a sketch and a story about him appeared in The Washington Post on Sunday.

"A woman from church saw the article and called us," Bailey's sister said yesterday as she stood with her parents in the hallway outside her brother's room.

Desiree and Charles E. Bailey learned that their son had been found when they returned yesterday from New York. They went to the hospital immediately to see their son, who remains semiconscious and in critical condition.

Desiree Bailey said her son was the second of three children and a 1970 graduate of Eastern High School. He had been separated from his wife for several years and has been living with his parents in their Capitol Hill home.

The family last saw Donald Bailey on Feb. 20 when he left for work.

"He called to me upstairs and said he was leaving," Desiree Bailey said. "When he didn't come home that night, I thought he was out with friends."

Bailey, who had surgery within hours after admission to relieve pressure on his brain from bleeding, has a history of medical problems.

In the missing person report filed by the family, he was described as suffering from seizures, according to Griffith.

Hospital officials said that Bailey's various jobs have included construction work.

"He has been comatose before and he comes out of it," said Raquel Palmer, director of social services at Howard University Hospital. "Since 1983, he has been treated at D.C. General, Washington Hospital Center and Prince George's Community Hospital . . . sometimes for up to three months."

One reason for the effort by Howard University Hospital officials to identify Bailey was the mounting medical bill, which now comes to more than $413,500, hospital officials said.

Now that he has been identified, Palmer said the hospital can help the family apply for Medicaid. "We have already given them the forms," she said.