Every blink, breath, and kiss gives 38-year-old Maricelís Jimenez strength.
Jimenez left the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, in hopes of better medical care for Victoria as her 10-month-old relies on oxygen tanks and a ventilator to survive.
“Her daughter needs her so she must stay strong,” Jimenez said through a translator, Ernie Martinez from the Miami-Dade County Commission on Disability Issues, who is advocating on behalf of the family. “She feels desperate because she doesn’t know what’s going to happen next,”
“The thing is that the child requires a lot of assistance just to be transported from,” Martinez said.
Martinez says it all started when Jimenez caught a humanitarian flight from Puerto Rico South Florida. She was told to head to Miami’s Nicklaus Children's Hospital, but took the wrong ambulance.
“The ambulance took them to Joe DiMaggio hospital in Hollywood,” said Martinez.
That’s when Jimenez says she was taken into a room, and asked if she has insurance.
“She said of course yes. She had Medicaid from Puerto Rico. It was determined that that Medicaid does not work or would not have coverage here in Florida,” Martinez said. “Therefore, they went on to say that there was nothing wrong with the baby. That the baby was fine.”
Martinez says Victoria’s mom insisted they contact her physician in Puerto Rico and that her doctor confirmed that the baby had an infection by her feeding tube that required immediate medical attention.
“That’s when they started looking at medical needs and yes, they did find that she had an infection and treated her just for the infection and then they insisted that she needed to be discharged without looking at all of the other needs that the child has,” said Martinez.
Martinez credits the hospital’s social workers for eventually helping the mother get Medicaid here Florida, but questions DiMaggio’s initial reaction – part of the growing concern over medical benefits for Puerto Ricans receiving medical help on the mainland.