Tampa Bay Family Heads to Nation’s Capitol to Support Legislation for Medically Complex Children

June 15, 2015

Tampa Bay Family Heads to Nation’s Capitol to Support Legislation for Medically Complex Children

TAMPA, Fla. (May 29, 2015) – Twelve-year-old Marina Khimko will join dozens of other pediatric patients from across the United States on Capitol Hill in June to speak out on behalf of kids with complex medical conditions and encourage Congress to support legislation that keeps children’s health care needs top of mind.

Marina was born with several serious health conditions and malformations. She spent the first three years of her life in the abandoned baby ward of a Ukrainian hospital. She captured the heart of an American missionary family, who brought her to the United States at age 3 in a desperate attempt to save her life. Marina has undergone 15 surgeries since then and her day-to-day survival is dependent on a web of pediatric specialists, medical equipment and clinical support, coordinated mostly through the Chronic-Complex Clinic at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital.

“Meeting Marina, you would never dream that this tiny little girl with a can-do attitude has been through unspeakable suffering,” said Rebecca Smith, Marina’s legal guardian.

Marina and her family are traveling to Washington D.C. as part of the Children’s Hospital Association’s Family Advocacy Day June 15-17, 2015. The trip includes one-on-one meetings with U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis, Kathy Castor, David Jolly, Richard Nugent, Tom Rooney, Dennis Ross, Daniel Webster and Senator Bill Nelson; a tour of Washington D.C.; and a celebratory dinner to honor the children and their families.

The Smith family will share with lawmakers their experiences caring for a child with special health care needs, including the importance of having a medical home for children with complex and chronic conditions and their recent coverage through Florida KidCare (Children’s Health Insurance Program). Together, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital and the family will ask Congress to support legislation that designates national pediatric networks that will ensure kids like Marina receive life-saving care, regardless of where they live.

“The majority of our pediatric patients are covered by Medicaid and Florida KidCare, and a considerable number of these children have medically complex conditions that require specialized care,” said St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital President Kimberly Guy. “Ensuring that kids with medically complex conditions have access to the care they need regardless of their family’s financial situation or where they live is a critical step to improving their health and long-term medical outcomes.”

St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital’s Chronic-Complex Clinic has been recognized nationally for its innovative work with medically complex children. Serving as a medical home for patients like Marina, the specialized clinic provides consistent, accessible and coordinated primary care, resulting in healthier, happier and higher qualities of life for hundreds of children throughout Florida.

For more information on Family Advocacy Day, or to meet Marina and her family, please contact Amy Gall at (813) 870-4731.