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Zephyrhills family wins fight over medical care for disabled daughter

ZEPHYRHILLS — Gov. Rick Scott gave Yvonne Clanton the news she has been waiting for: Her family's fight is over.

Scott called the family's home Thursday morning telling them they would receive a waiver granting them the continued in-home, 24-hour care for their daughter, Selah. Selah, 9, already mentally delayed, sustained severe brain injuries after a near drowning in the Erie Canal on Aug. 15, 2012 in Rochester, N.Y.

The Clanton's insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, denied their coverage in June for the care Selah began receiving when she returned to the family's Zephyrhills home at the end of January.

“He said he wanted to take the burden off of our family and let us know that Selah was having a waiver for her nursing care and that he believed everything was going to be taken care of at this point,” Yvonne Clanton, Selah's mother, said Thursday.

Clanton admitted she was still in shock following the phone call.

“We're just little nobody people,” Clanton said. “We're not some big wealthy family. We don't have big connections. They just helped out a family that has a sick little kid who needed help. It was pretty amazing.”

On Aug. 15, 2012, the family was in Rochester to mark the fifth anniversary of the successful cornea transplant performed by a local eye surgeon on their son, Sam. That day Sam and his sister Selah, then both 8, were in a side-by-side double stroller as their father, Jon Clanton, pushed.

Seconds after Jon Clanton took his hands off the stroller to check the time on his cell phone, the stroller rolled away and plunged into the Erie Canal. Clanton, with the help of two medical students, saved the children, but Selah suffered severe brain damage. She has needed extended medical treatment since.

She spent about four months in a Rochester hospital, followed about six weeks at a Jacksonville facility.

The family had been denied the 24-hour home care coverage twice and was preparing for another appeal.

Former state legislator and newly named Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano got involved and had letters sent to each of Pasco County's representatives, including House Speaker Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel. Weatherford visited the family's home last week.

After Scott called the Clanton's, Weatherford followed up with a call, Clanton said.

Weatherford praised Scott for “directing his state agency to do the right thing and assist a family in need.”

“Working with the Governor's Office, we were able to cut through red tape and ensure the Clanton Family can receive the 24-hour home coverage they need for Selah's treatment,” Weatherford said in a statement.

Clanton said she wants other families to get hope from their fight.

“I think it can show families to continue pushing as far as you possibly can in your situation,” Clanton said. “Not to give up hope and not to give up for your kids.”

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