Skip to main content.

Isabella's story

Fellowship Story Showcase

Isabella's story

Picture of Harvey Barkin

This article was produced as a project for the USC Center for Health Journalism’s California Fellowship.

Related: Full-scope Medi-Cal granted to undocumented children below 19 years old but for how long?

FilAm Star
Friday, July 21, 2017

Isabella was 8 years old when she came to the U.S. with her mom Daissy and her sister from Colombia. It is not known how they came to the U.S. but they came for a better future and the best treatment for Isabella.

Isabella’s condition caused her to fall often and get tired fast. Mere walking was a feat and she would shy away when she knew people observed her unnatural gait. It just got in the way of a normal healthy child’s life. Daissy said Isabella had so much tears that Daissy had to shed them for her.

They sought the help of a certified application assistant at the Community Health Initiative of Orange County. In May 2014, Child Care Services (CCS) approved Isabella for specialized care when she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She was granted Medi-Cal in May 2016.

Isabella went through surgery on both knees to keep from falling and to help with her equilibrium. She went to therapy to restore mobility in her muscles.

CCS pays for her twice a week rehabilitation and Medi-Cal provides for her routine care at no cost. A friend from church volunteered to give Isabella dance instruction as another form of therapy.

Isabella goes to Fullerton Physical Therapy & Sports Care and Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. She just turned 12 and is now at 6th grade. She has more confidence and now engages in games and other group activities though her gait is still far from normal.

Daissy said, “We don’t know when she’ll get better. The only one that knows when she’ll stop needing therapy is God.”

Daissy works odd jobs as a healthcare worker, house cleaner and anything else she can find. She also receives financial support from people who know Isabella’s condition.

There is no Plan B for Daissy if the specialized care benefits for Isabella were to go away. All the progress from therapy would be in jeopardy. She said she would knock on doors and never give up asking for help.

[This story was originally published by FilAm Star. Story begins on page A1 and continues on page A7.]