Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Zephryhills family wins fight to continue nursing care for daughter who nearly drowned

ZEPHYRHILLS — The Tallahassee staffer told Yvonne Clanton to expect a phone call. It would be "good news" about her family's fight to keep round the clock, in-home nursing care for her 9-year-old daughter, who was severely brain damaged last year after her stroller plunged into the Erie Canal.

Shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday, the phone rang.

Clanton listened in shock as Gov. Rick Scott told her the family's battle was over. And the Clantons had won.

"Oh my gosh," the 47-year-old pastor's wife told a Tampa Bay Times reporter minutes after speaking to the governor. "My hands are sweating."

She said Scott thanked her family and said a waiver had been granted in the case of her daughter, Selah.

When Mrs. Clanton asked about the particulars, Scott said not to worry.

"He said, 'Believe me. It's whatever you asked for. You have been granted,' " she said.

The Clantons were seeking reinstatement of insurance coverage for a private nurse to care for Selah, who remains in a persistent vegetative state.

In July, Florida Blue told the family it would no longer pay for Selah's nurse, saying family members could perform the tasks. Selah requires tracheal and feeding tubes and must be turned every few hours to avoid bed sores.

The Clantons appealed, but the Division of State Group Insurance which oversees insurance for state employees upheld Florida Blue. Clanton and her husband, Jon, 49, a chaplain at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution, prepared to take the case further.

Selah, who spent much of her life in an orphanage in Ukraine and was developmentally delayed, is one of three children the couple adopted from overseas. They have two biological sons, Stephen, 17, and 9-year-old Samuel, who was born with a genetic disorder that causes blindness and other issues.

The entire family was in Rochester, N.Y., on Aug. 15, 2012, to seek eye surgery for then-5-year-old daughter Sarah, who is also visually impaired.

Jon strapped Samuel and Selah into a double stroller and took them for walk along the Erie Canal. For a second, Jon let go of the handle to check the time on his phone. The stroller rolled away and fell into the canal. Jon jumped into the 12-foot depths and tried to hold up the stroller as he clung to a tree branch.

Some nearby medical students rescued them. Samuel escaped serious injury, but Selah spent eight weeks in a coma before recovering to her current state.

After several months, she came home. A nurse stayed with her around the clock.

After the insurance appeal failed, the Clantons contacted state lawmakers. Former state Rep. Mike Fasano, who was recently appointed Pasco tax collector, sent emails urging his ex-colleagues to intervene.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, visited the family's home and appealed to Scott for help.

"I applaud Gov. Scott for directing his state agency to do the right thing and assist a family in need," Weatherford said in a statement Thursday.

Yvonne Clanton said she will sleep easier knowing that Selah will not be forced to rely on Medicaid for care. Reimbursement in Medicaid rates are typically low, making finding care difficult. As a result, some children end up in nursing homes.

Selah is now receiving treatments in a hyperbaric chamber.

On Wednesday, she stuck out her tongue, a move that might indicate she is getting more control of her mouth.

"I hope one day we don't need a nurse anymore," Clanton said.

Zephryhills family wins fight to continue nursing care for daughter who nearly drowned 09/05/13 [Last modified: Friday, September 6, 2013 1:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault


    WASHINGTON — Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried "eyes only" instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Barack Obama shake hands at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. [Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP]
  2. GOP's challenge: Finding votes for Senate health care bill (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally unwrapped his plan for dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law. Now comes his next challenge — persuading enough Republicans to back the measure and avert a defeat that could be shattering for President Donald Trump and the GOP.

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol after Republicans released their long-awaited bill to scuttle much of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. He is one of four GOP senators to say they are opposed it but are open to negotiations, which could put the measure in immediate jeopardy. [Associated Press]
  3. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.
  4. Manslaughter charges eyed in deadly London fire sparked by refrigerator


    LONDON — Manslaughter charges are among the offenses under consideration in the devastating Grenfell Tower blaze that killed 79 people, London police said Friday.

    A view of part of the Burnham residential tower on the Chalcots Estate showing the bottom section of the building after cladding was removed, in the borough of Camden, north London, Thursday, June 22, 2017. Tests so far have found that at least three high-rise apartment buildings in the U.K. have flammable external panels like the ones believed to have contributed to a fire that killed 79 people in London, Britain's government said Thursday. The local council in Camden, a borough of London, removed cladding from one of its buildings for further testing after tests they commissioned showed some of their panels were of the flammable variety "and not the ones they ordered." It was unclear whether the Camden example was one of the three mentioned by the government. [Associated Press]
  5. PolitiFact: 6 questions about the Senate health care bill and transparency


    Now that a Senate health care bill has been unveiled, senators will be jousting over its provisions to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks following a closed-door strategy session, at the Capitol in Washington on June 20. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)