As the mother of Caroline Serva, I would like to answer the question that was posed on the cover of the Jan. 26 News-Review: “Is there hope for these families?” Yes. Unequivocally and without hesitation, yes, there is hope for these families. There is hope for my family because, like it or not, hope is not something anyone can take away from you.
Now, I have some questions of my own for our local political leaders and the administrators of the multiple hospitals we have here on Long Island. How, for the past 20-plus years, have you somehow convinced yourselves that it is OK to do nothing for these very fragile and beautiful children? How do you turn your back on the neediest children in your very own communities and their families? Children who know nothing but love and have fought so very hard to be here? Precious children who deserve far better than what they are receiving from the very towns and counties they were born in.
The article states that, according to local politicians and hospital administrators, the issue “will not be easy to resolve, since the program’s potential cost, as well as other, more pressing medical needs in the area, are pushing it to the back burner.” What are the other, more pressing medical needs? What is more pressing than a child’s life? What medical need is greater than a 21-month-old baby who has fought for every breath? A baby who continues to fight in the face of adversity and brings nothing but joy to her family, who lives two hours away from the hospital that cares for her because there is no other option on Long Island? This is a baby who in 21 months has endured more than most of us will in our lifetime. Please, I invite these officials to come into my home and sit face-to-face with me and tell me about the other, more pressing medical needs in our area.
They talk endlessly about the “cost” of a long-term care facility and, as insulting and painful as it is to hear, I hear them loud and clear: You are telling me my child is not worth the cost. You are telling me that in one of the wealthiest counties in our country the hospitals decide who is worth caring for and who is not.
And — taxpayers, pay attention — for all of you who even remotely believe that a long-term care facility on Long Island would in any way be an impossibility due to our economic climate or a detriment to our state’s budget, consider this: The state of New York is paying other states to care for medically fragile children. Yes, money that could be used here to fund a long-term care facility on Long Island is currently spent anyway, being paid to out-of-state facilities for the care of these delicate children. The more delicate the child and more serious the medical condition, the harder families like mine are pressed to find a facility out of state.
And we have been pressed. Fortunately, we have said, “Not this time.” Fortunately, this has only increased our determination and resolve to fix this gaping hole in our health care system on Long Island. A two-hour drive to Blythedale Children’s Hospital is far enough. We have promised our beautiful daughter to fight tirelessly and without pause until she is back on Long Island, surrounded by her family and friends. Because, unlike local hospital administrators, we know she is worth every battle.
In her short lifetime, Caroline has touched so many people. On the days I am not able to be with her, I lie awake and picture her beautiful smile, I see her turning her pretty face to the sound of my voice and I pray. I dream of the day Caroline is back on Long Island because, like all parents, I believe there is no one more deserving than my little girl.
We are urging our fellow Long Islanders to contact local political leaders, hospital administrators and anyone in a position who can help. By pressing our health care system to take a stand and fill this void we hope to bring these children home. Something needs to be done. Yesterday is too late. For more information on Caroline, please visit bringcarolinehome.com.