14th Annual Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day held in DC
BALTIMORE, MD (June 28) - Fifteen-year old Ava Conklin and her family joined in a broad national push this week to address key health care needs for children. The Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day, sponsored by the Children's Hospital Association (CHA), took place in Washington D.C. on June 26-27. Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital (MWPH) and the Conklins joined families from around the country to share stories of their health care journey with legislators to illustrate why all children need children's hospitals, and how public policy can influence their access to health care.
At age eight, Ava was diagnosed with juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, a rare, often benign brain tumor that strikes in childhood. Following a surgery, Ava had meningitis and 13 strokes, and finally was hospitalized for five months. Seven years later, she continues to work on her mobility and processing speed with the help of MWPH's staff of physical therapists, occupational therapists and child life specialists.
"Ava's challenges have been life-changing in every single way," said Anne Conklin, Ava's mother. "Emotionally draining, physically exhausting and financially overwhelming- we decided it's important to share her story because it's a situation that people cannot even imagine going through." She added, "Ava's story is also important because others can learn resiliency and the value of not taking anything for granted."
During this week's advocacy efforts, Ava's family met with the Congressional offices of Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Representatives Dutch Ruppersberger, Elijah Cummings, John Sarbanes and Steny Hoyer. The family was joined by MWPH president and CEO Sheldon Stein, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Katz and VP of Development and External Affairs Jill Feinberg.
"Countless families in Baltimore and beyond have limited access to quality health care," stated Dr. Katz. "Congress must continue improving the effectiveness of Medicaid for children."
Mark Wietecha, president and CEO of the Children's Hospital Association (CHA) noted "Medicaid plays an essential role in children's health by providing health insurance to millions of kids who, through no fault of their own, rely on the program to access health care services from doctors trained to meet their unique needs."
The Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day provided a continued platform for MWPH to elevate the needs of its young patients. A prominent pediatric hospital in Maryland, MWPH provides care, resources and education every day for families such as the Conklins.
About Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital: Where Children go to Heal and Grow
Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital provides family-focused, integrated care to children with serious, chronic or complex medical needs. Since 1922, the hospital has helped children heal from illness and injury, and now treats nearly 9,000 patients each year. The 102-bed hospital is a jointly owned affiliate of The University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins Medicine and has locations in Baltimore City, Prince George's County and in the community.