Thursday, October 04, 2012

"Hidden [Medically Fragile] Children" in Florida Nursing Homes

“The hidden children” is how Clinical Professor Paolo Annino [of FSU Law School's Public Interest Law Center] refers to these “medically fragile” children, tucked into pediatric wings of Florida nursing homes designed for geriatric patients, like the grandmother Van Erem used to visit when she was a girl.

How these children wound up on ventilators and feeding tubes and tracheotomies varies: near drowning in swimming pools, being shaken as infants, infantile cerebral palsy, car crashes, genetic disorders.

What they have in common is the need for nursing care 24/7, and some of them have families who want them to live at home if they are afforded sufficient services.

“The saddest part of all is not that these children have nowhere to go. That’s what a lot of people would assume,” Van Erem said. “A lot of families are asking for support and want their children at home. Our goal is to get these children back with their families, with adequate support.”

-from "Law Students fight to bring the 'hidden children' home" in the October 1, 2012, issue of the Florida Bar News.

According to the article, there are 221 children in Florida nursing homes.  "With adequate support," some of them can go home.  Adequate support may, in fact be available.  Getting the families of those children that support is a complex issue in some cases, one apparently needing a lawyer (or a law student) to help with the red tape.

What about families who are just short of support?  Who in the private sector might cover the shortfall?  What about the children with no families?  Who will visit them?

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