Even if they are eventually rebutted, accusations of child abuse leave lasting marks and, as has been proven, Take Care of MayaThese scars can be very deep. Henry Roosevelt’s documentary, which premiered on Netflix on June 19 (following its premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival), is an empathetic portrait of a family’s startling ordeal and ensuing nightmare, courtesy of a medical institution that supposedly prioritizes children’s well-being. yet he put his own interests first at every opportunity – tragically dead.
Take Care of Maya above all, it is a story about the fear and helplessness that parents feel when their child falls ill with a difficult-to-diagnose disease. Born to firefighter Jack and nurse Beata Kowalski, Maya developed a host of startling symptoms at the age of 9 in 2015: breathing problems, headaches, blurred vision, lesions of the lower extremities, turned legs, and constant, severe pain. Jack and Beata took her to numerous doctors, until Beata’s painstaking research led them to Anthony Kirkpatrick, an anesthesiologist with expertise in the puzzling disease Maya suffered from: complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
In what seemed like a miracle to the Kowalskis, Kirkpatrick not only knew what Maya’s problem was, but also found a course of action to fix it. He claimed the solution was ketamine, which, when administered under a doctor’s supervision, can be a safe, effective treatment for CRPS, stimulating the brain and improving blood pressure, circulation and breathing while doing so. Maya began taking low-dose medication with little effect. In response, Kirkpatrick decided they needed to take an additional and more drastic step: to induce a five-day ketamine coma that would reset his internal system and provide longer-lasting benefits. This was an unusual (if not radical) option, and this fact was reinforced by Kirkpatrick’s announcement that it was only available in Mexico because it was so experimental. With a few alternatives though, the Kowalskis continued to move forward, traveling to Monterrey in November 2015 to put Maya into a temporarily drugged sleep.
Take Care of Maya It presents footage of Maya taken at home before this procedure, as well as cellphone clips taken by Beata as she emerged from and out of her coma. If this material is upsetting on its own, the context in which it is presented makes it even more sinister. New interviews with Jack and Maya (but not Beata) and snippets of Zoom statements from 2021 suggest that something went wrong or went wrong later on. During at least the first year following this treatment, Maya recovered steadily. But on October 7, 2016, the implied disaster occurred when Maya fell ill again and Jack took her desperately to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Sarasota, Florida for support. There, Beata reportedly behaved in a belligerent and controlling manner and demanded that doctors give her daughter ketamine. After Maya was taken to the intensive care unit, Dr. She was visited by Sally Smith, and at that point the Kowalskis’ lives were changed forever.
As they eventually learned, Dr. Smith was a child abuse pediatrician who worked at the hospital to determine if parental abuse had occurred. When he heard of the ketamine regimen administered to him after examining the distressed Maya, he concluded that Maya was not really ill; rather, he was the victim of his mother, Beata, who has Munchausen by proxy, a disease in which a caregiver provides false, exaggerated or misleading information and engages in self-serving behavior that harms a child. Maya was placed in government custody and treated as hospital doctors saw fit, and during her stay at the facility, Maya claims that doctors repeatedly told her that she and her family were liars. Meanwhile, Jack and Beata were legally denied any contact with their daughter.
Take Care of Maya she tells us early on that Florida’s child welfare system was privatized, and then revelations about how Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital billed insurance companies for Maya’s care – that is, stating to the court that she had just the right CRPS status. – also suggests that a profit motive came into play when it came to separating Maya from her family. Whatever prompted Smith and his company to make this decision, Roosevelt’s documentary makes the convincing claim that in situations like these, the entire system of child protection services has collapsed, as all power falls into the hands of the few who agree. has a tremendous effect. Moreover, the system instantly puts parents on the defensive, forcing them to prove their innocence in the face of presumed guilt, and if they want to be reunited with their children, they are often forced to submit to demands dictated by the state.
Through numerous video and audio recordings of doctor’s appointments (many made by Beata), supervised phone calls between mother and daughter during Maya’s detention, and judicial hearings, Take Care of Maya turns into a chilling vision of a family trapped in a swamp from which there is no easy escape. The disappointment and misery that accompanied it became too much for Beata to bear and – police suspicions, fears that her husband had turned their back on her, and a series of denials to see her daughter culminated when a judge refused to let her. She took her own life on January 8, 2017. Soon after, Maya was discharged from the hospital, where she spent 92 days, but returned to a home shattered beyond repair and a persistent medical condition that could only be gradually brought under control. with therapy.
In his last passages, Take Care of Maya (title taken from Beata’s suicide note) Focuses on the Kowalskis’ attempts to sue Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital for punitive damages – another hellish challenge that once again highlights how important the system is to self-preservation (and self-preservation) over children’s supposed helpers. was created to be. Maya’s mournful anguish is evident in numerous interviews and bursts of expression, culminating in the news that her family’s trial against those who have caused so much destruction will be postponed again, perhaps indefinitely. The closing statement suggests the Kowalskis will finally go to court this September. Meanwhile, this heart-wrenching documentary, culminating in the comments of some of the 100 other families who came into contact with director Roosevelt, gives a fascinating voice to their sadness and anger.
If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or write TALK at 741741 and contact the Crisis Message Line. Dial 988.