Review: Maria Juana’s Gift


Maria Juana’s Gift: Doctors are sworn to care for their patients. They take an oath and should uphold it. But, many people jaded and others are in it for the money, power and prestige and who suffers: the patient.

But, when medical care becomes contingent upon your economic class and your bank account then something needs to be done and changes need to be made before the death toll rises and the body count builds. Jake and Tina meet during the Bicentennial in 1976. Meeting during a teaching conference, falling in love and getting to know each other is just one part of this story.

Maria Juana's GiftThe other is what happens when Jake and Tina’s daughter Emma is sick, in the hospital and the doctor in charge of her care dismisses her cries for help and fluffs it off to a distraught mother who does not really know what she is saying. But, when a custodian/nurse named Maria believes the child is truly ill, no one listens, no one pays attention and because she is not considered the upper class or of any importance her concerns land on deaf ears.

The author then flashes back to their rocky start, the conference that started it all, and Tina’s relationship with her mom who seems quite distant and removed, Jake’s persistence in getting to know her and her emergency stay in the hospital. When the truth is revealed Jake stood tall and as Tina gets to know him she realizes her true feelings for him. Understanding their differences, family issues and straight talk helped their relationship grow.

But, let’s not forget Emma and the mainstay of this story to find someone who would help this child and listen to a father’s cry and hope to save his daughter. With Maria’s gift for understanding when something is wrong and Jake’s persistence, a police officer’s willingness to go out on a limb, Jake hopes to get help from another doctor, in another hospital and bring him to Emma. But, will he succeed before it is too late. Why won’t Dr. Serna leave the celebration and his cousin the Mayor and help a sick child? Oh yeah! Money, not important enough and insignificant!

How true that is today in 2011. All too often if you have the wrong insurance, a doctor who does not call you back or is not of the right persuasion or the emergency room is filled with patients that are not on Medicaid or Family Health Plus, those paying for insurance often get the care first. I have seen that first hand. The sad part is that those in the emergency room all too often keep much waiting for days or more just to be seen or to get a room. In this case, it is clearly a case of malpractice on the doctor’s part and definitely misdiagnosis or more likely I really don’t care to look into any further because you are no one special. Sad, but true as you hear Jake’s voice listen to his cries for help and pray for one young child.

Fast forward to the present

Jake and Tina are fighting for the survival of their child in a town on the Arizona-Mexico border. As the story continues and we get to understand their frustrations we learn more about Jake Friend and Tina Linn. But, there is so much more. As Tina has two miscarriages and then gives birth to Emma in a small Arizona hospital, the story picks up with the unconcerned staff, a child that appears to be healthy, and we meet a woman named Maria who believes she is quite ill. But, no one listens. Racing the clock will he succeed? The indignities we encounter when we face those who won’t listen. The hopes of a young couple will they are shattered.

The author brings to light many major issues in this story. Health care neglect, insurance or lack of it and the price people pay, doctors who don’t care and one woman whose voice was not heard. Wait and see what happens and how this all plays out.

Maria Juana’s gift brings to light and explore medical malpractice and the “preventable human medical error,” which is front and center and yet hidden in the news today. Doctors are human but are not infallible and all too often forget to take that extra step, listen to nurses, staff members and find out what is really wrong with a patient. But, what happens when the patient is a child and cannot speak for him or herself and relies on his/her parents to speak for them as the elderly often do when alone and their voice is silenced or not heard.

Flashback to where it all began

Although Jake and Tina’s romance started out in the usual manner with a chance meeting at a teaching conference, sharing each other’s family histories and getting to know each other after the conference concluded, many roadblocks hindered their way and Tina had to reconcile her issues with her mother. Determined that their relationship would flourish, Jake and Tina forge ahead despite the adversities placed in their way. But, the real drama is trying to find help for their sick child as the author recounts just how Jake and Tina got their teaching jobs, met Dr. Serna who at that time was the head of the School Board and who would decide the fate of their child. From the start, they realized he was a cold and calculating man with his own agenda in mind whether in the hospital or dealing with the school system. Hoping to convince another doctor to enter into the picture Jake and Ben take his trusty Volkswagen named Loretta and pray for a miracle at the end of their journey.

Their teaching assignments in place the author adds an important back story concerning the educational system where they were going to work, the poor conditions, lack of materials and the plight of the children and people that lived there. The author introduces Jesus, the police officer who would be his close friend and the many others who would endear themselves to both Jake and Tina. Meeting many of the people he learned about the two families that controlled either the schools and government or the businesses. The Ortegas, Montalvos, and the Sernas on the opposite end.

But, the author brings more about medical ineptness out as we meet a precious child named Nora totally misdiagnosed and much more. But, Tina had a way with Nora and although she hardly spoke outside she sensed something in her that bonded them. Written off as mentally disabled Tina realized that this was truly not the case and more needs to be done to improve the educational system and the services for these children. Jake was placed in charge of the school as the headteacher and he and Rosa Mendez would create the programs and the teaching assignments as well as Jake’s role in having to acquire funds for the school.

Realizing that this would take a huge amount of effort on his part since there were major gaps in the system including starting a program to offer ESL and high school equivalency preparation. Tina was a dedicated educator and Jake had some innovative ideas and both realized that was not enough to help the students. Then, Emma is born the real drama begins as Jake finds some help but the end result will definitely enlighten the reader when one arrogant doctor decides to play a hand that might cost a young child her life. When help finally arrives and the pieces to help Emma are finally in place what happens will anger the reader, fire up your energy and prayers that this never happens again. Flashing forward to the present once again.

Fast forward to reality and the present

What is the final fate for Emma? What is really wrong with her? Why do they feel so close to Maria Juana? Why do they embrace her as a family? Medical malpractice, indecision, unfeeling nurses and doctors and one man who was determined to find some help for a child who was not breathing right. Just what was wrong with her and what really happens you need to read for yourself. What would you do if you were Jake and Tina? What would happen if Emma were your child? One wrong turn, one wrong decision: One child’s life! Told with compassion, in the third person yet you can hear the distinct voices of the characters, their heartbreak, and frustrations, author T. Lloyd Winetsky reminds everyone why this country and many others need to focus on improving health care for everyone, not just the select few. With a mother in law that recently passed away due to one doctor’s negligence and another’s indifference, Maria Juana’s Gift is the one book that will open everyone’s eyes to some really harsh realities.

Maria Juana’s Gift should be mandatory for all doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners to read to remind them of why they entered the medical field. Educator, innovator, and en-lightener this author and his book deserve more than just five stars.

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