“The care they provide the children is very special and unique,” said Vila. “It’s a different and therapeutic environment.”
Indeed, Miami Children’s Hospital last year served more than 345,000 patients, with 66 percent using Medicaid, the state-federal healthcare program for the poor. The percentage of Medicaid patients in three intensive care units — cardiac, neonatal and pediatric — is higher at 70 percent.
“We’re proponents of access to care,” said Vila, who joined the hospital two years ago. “These kids really do need more than the normal follow-up.”
Without Medicaid, low-income families struggle to pay for their children’s medical bills, while hospitals struggle to absorb costs for necessary care.
Miami Children’s aims to serve all children, Vila said, but making up the difference puts a strain on the hospital’s resources.
The hospital would welcome an expansion of Medicaid, but would especially like to see an increase in the percentage of Medicaid expenditures for children, Vila said.
For Vila, the positive impact of Medicaid was on display earlier this month when the hospital held its annual cardiac program reunion, bringing together cardiac patients and their surgeons, nurses and ICU docs. The event drew more than 150 former cardiac patients who were treated as children. Many of them came with their new families and children. Years ago, she said, only the wealthiest patients would have had access to such life-saving care.
“It is just amazing to see children that probably would not have maybe survived in other hospitals,” she said.
Erin Jester Miami Herald