Courtney Nina was busy with her second grade class that spring morning when the call came from her mother … something was terribly wrong with 6-month-old Kennedy. “I remember my mom saying, ‘Courtney, she’s having convulsions,’ and I could hear the panic in her voice.”
After jumping into “Mommy Mode,” the Tampa teacher raced to get her daughter to the hospital. “Kennedy looked like she’d had a stroke,” Courtney remembers. “One of her eyes was smaller than the other, and her face was disfigured.” Over the course of four days, doctors struggled to get the seizures under control. But it was as if Kennedy had lost everything. Courtney recalls, “She could not roll over or pick her head up. It was like she was back to being a newborn baby.”
From Classroom to Caregiver
Courtney has since resigned her teaching position to become her daughter’s full-time caregiver. Her days are filled with doctors’ visits and therapy appointments. But with help from AvMed Case Manager Teresa Lopez, Kennedy is getting the care she needs – from intensive physical and speech therapy to supportive ankle braces to help her walk.
The road ahead is a long one, but the Nina family is happy for the little blessings each day brings – like watching Kennedy wrestle with her three older brothers or enjoy a fruit smoothie. “Cognitively, we don’t know how she’s going to be until she gets a little older,” Courtney shares. “She says ‘Da-da,’ which my husband just loves. And if I tell her, “Take this book to Joshua, she will take it to her brother. They say that having early interventions can save a child if you catch it in time, so we are hopeful.”
Care Coordination Is Key
As Kennedy’s case manager, Teresa Lopez is helping the Nina family coordinate care not only through AvMed Providers, but also through resources such as the State of Florida’s Early Steps program. “My role is to work with Members who are experiencing complex diseases and give them all the support and guidance they need to navigate their care,” she explains.
In Kennedy’s case, that includes regular phone calls and check-ins – as well as supporting Courtney as a caregiver. “With all that we’ve been through, I experienced some PTSD and began stress eating,” Courtney explains. “I put on an unhealthy amount of weight, and I finally said, ‘Teresa, I really want to get my life back together. I want to be healthy so I can be there for my family.’ Teresa referred me to a nutritionist and a therapist who have really been a big help.”
While there have been many sleepless nights and plenty of tears along the way, Courtney is quick to say that having Teresa by her side has made a difference. “I don’t know how our life would have been if Kennedy had not received all those resources. Having Teresa as our case manager, we’ve not had to be on this journey alone.”