Cancer survivor and 14-year-old Sarasota resident Tony Colton returned to the Tampa Bay area this week from Washington, D.C. after joining more than 25 patients and families from across the country for the Children's Hospital Association's Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day. During the trip, Tony spoke with Florida lawmakers, including U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Kathy Castor and David Jolly.
Tony, an All Children's Hospital patient since July 2011, shared his personal experience of surviving clear cell sarcoma of the kidney, a rare pediatric cancer. Tony and a team from All Children's Hospital highlighted the need for specialty children's hospitals and the multi-disciplinary, high quality care they provide.
All Children's Hospital staff and Tony's family spoke to lawmakers about the importance of funding for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for the many children like Tony who benefit from these programs. Nearly 70 percent of patients at All Children's Hospital are Medicaid recipients, making All Children's one of the highest providers of Medicaid services compared to any other hospital in Florida.
Tony and the All Children's Hospital team also discussed funding for the Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program. CHGME aims to help teaching hospitals such as All Children's Hospital continue to train tomorrow's pediatricians and avoid physician shortages in pediatric sub-specialty areas. According to the Children's Hospital Association, CHGME hospitals train 49 percent of all pediatricians and 51 percent of pediatric specialists in the U.S. All Children's Hospital offers a unique learning environment with two residency programs - the new All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine pediatric residency program which begins in July and the long-standing University of South Florida pediatric residency program.