2012 Top Story No. 8: Legislature, nonprofits seek to fill L.I.’s pediatric care void

FROM NEWS 12 REPORT | Karen Serva delivers a speech to the Legislature’s health committee.

Unlike most other toddlers, 2-year-old Caroline Serva doesn’t live at home with her family. The baby girl, who suffered brain damage after her premature birth in 2011, can’t be home because she needs constant long-term medical care. Instead, she stays at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Westchester County — a two-hour drive from home.

Caroline’s story is not unique. Michael Hubbard, a Riverhead teenager who was badly injured in a gel candle explosion, is also staying at Blythedale for treatment.

For the families of young children in need of long-term medical treatment, Long Island offers few options, according to a News-Review special report in February.

An estimated 600 children on Long Island need long-term care, with only a select few beds at some hospitals or nonprofit groups available to them.

But in 2012, Suffolk County officials took steps to identify and ultimately address the issue, which affects hundreds of children in our area. In June, the Suffolk County Legislature created a task force to examine the issue of long-term care for pediatric patients. Officials said they are striving to identify how many children are in need before they move forward to find a solution.

Meanwhile, nonprofit groups like Angela’s House and New Beginnings are working on facilities to help those who need long-term care but can’t find it. Brendan House, a proposed group home on Sound Avenue designed for adults requiring long-term care because of traumatic brain injury, is in the works. Michael Hubbard has already secured a place in the home, which is scheduled to open in 2013

Karen Serva, whose daughter’s story was the centerpiece of a Channel 12 special report in 2012, says another Angela’s House (there is already a seven-bed facility in the Moriches) has promised a spot for Caroline.

That Smithtown facility is expected to open in 2013.