Bridging the Gap: How a Healthcare Advocate May Have Helped in the “Take Care of Maya” Case

Bridging the Gap: How a Healthcare Advocate May Have Helped in the “Take Care of Maya” Case
| by Kristy Dalechek-Shell

You may have watched the Netflix special “Take Care of Maya” or saw the recent $211 Million dollar judgement against John Hopkins Hospital. As a nurse that started her career in a children’s hospital and is now a healthcare advocate, what struck me in this case was the breakdown in communication. It seemed to me that each side came to a conclusion and once that happened, they were stuck. I see this happen quite frequently in healthcare.

In times of medical crisis, effective communication is crucial for ensuring that patients receive the best possible care. Unfortunately, breakdowns in communication can occur, leaving patients and their families feeling lost and overwhelmed. This is where the invaluable role of a healthcare advocate comes into play. In this blog post, we'll explore how a healthcare advocate can serve as a bridge, repairing and enhancing communication during hospitalization crises. Maybe, just maybe if a healthcare advocate would have been involved with Maya Kowalski the outcome could have been different for everyone.

The Challenge of Communication Breakdown

During hospitalization, patients often find themselves at the mercy of a complex healthcare system, grappling with a myriad of medical professionals, treatment plans, and administrative processes. Maya’s mom was a nurse. She understood the language, but when communication breaks down the consequences can be dire.

The Role of a Healthcare Advocate:

1. Facilitating Open Communication Channels:

A healthcare advocate acts as a liaison between the patient, their family, and the medical team. In situations where communication has broken down, an advocate works to reestablish open and transparent channels of communication. This involves facilitating regular updates, organizing family conferences, and ensuring that concerns and questions are addressed promptly, fostering a collaborative and informed decision-making process. In watching the documentary it seemed open communication had completely shut down in Maya’s case.

2. Coordinating Care Among Multiple Providers:

Hospitalizations often involve a team of specialists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. When communication among these parties breaks down, a healthcare advocate steps in to coordinate care seamlessly. They ensure that information flows efficiently between different providers, preventing critical details from slipping through the cracks and leading to a more integrated and effective care plan. A healthcare advocate could have helped facilitate communication between the hospital team and Maya’s outside specialists.

3. Advocating for Patient Preferences:

In situations where patients are unable to communicate their preferences, a healthcare advocate becomes the voice of the patient. They work tirelessly to ensure that the patient's values, beliefs, and wishes are respected and integrated into the care plan. This is particularly crucial during crises when decisions need to be made swiftly, and the patient's voice may be temporarily silenced. A healthcare advocate could have visited Maya at the hospital and given her family a better peace of mind.

4. Mitigating Family Stress:

Communication breakdowns can be incredibly stressful for families. A healthcare advocate provides emotional support, helping families navigate the uncertainties of a medical crisis. By offering guidance, answering questions, and actively addressing concerns, the advocate becomes a source of reassurance for families facing challenging times.

5. Ensuring Clarity in Medical Information:

One of the primary responsibilities of a healthcare advocate is to ensure that medical information is communicated clearly and comprehensively. This was less important in Maya’s case, as her mom was a nurse, but often this piece is of utmost importance. When communication falters between healthcare providers and patients or their families, an advocate steps in to bridge the gap, translating complex medical jargon into easily understandable language. This ensures that everyone involved is on the same page regarding the patient's condition, treatment options, and potential outcomes.


In the midst of a hospitalization crisis, a healthcare advocate emerges as a beacon of support, mending broken lines of communication and ensuring that patients and their families feel informed, heard, and empowered. By facilitating clarity in medical information, fostering open communication channels, coordinating care, advocating for patient preferences, and mitigating family stress, healthcare advocates play a pivotal role in restoring a sense of control and understanding during challenging healthcare journeys. As we navigate the complexities of the healthcare system, the presence of a healthcare advocate becomes increasingly invaluable in promoting effective communication and patient-centered care.

Would a healthcare advocate have made a difference in Maya’s case? I think so, but you decide. If you or a loved one is in a healthcare situation and you believe communication has broken down, consider reaching out to an advocate. It could be what the situation needs to restore balance and ultimately better health.

At Haven Healthcare Advocates we strive to make sure clients and families have all the information they need, and they understand the information they have, in order to make the best healthcare decisions.  We coordinate care to make sure nothing falls between the cracks.  Whether someone is faced with a complicated healthcare issue or crisis, caring for an aging or sick parent, caring for a special needs child, transitioning from hospital, to rehab, to home, or is looking for resources or second opinions, our team of nurses is available to help.  We provide peace of mind, so families can enjoy time with their loved ones.  

To learn more about Haven Healthcare Advocates and the services we provide please visit our website at or click here to schedule a consultation.