Take Care of Maya – Tribeca 2023

Maya Kowalski in Take Care of Maya. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023.

Take Care of Maya is a documentary that follows the Kowalski family and their daughter’s battle with a rare illness, CRPS.

Please note that the film comes with a few content warnings for child abuse, suicide, etc. I cannot stress enough that the documentary is not an easy watch by any means.

What should have been a routine visit to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital ended up becoming something much worse. The medical team suspected Maya was a victim of medical child abuse and reported her to Children’s Medical Services. All because of being on ketamine for CRPS. In short, they accused her family of overmedicating Maya. No family should have to see their child suffering in this way. To have their kid placed into state custody because doctors were not paying attention is frustrating. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that the Kowalski family went through. The fact that Dr. Sally Smith didn’t even include the initial CRPS diagnosis in her report is all the more upsetting.

Not only was Maya placed into state custody but her family wasn’t even allowed to talk to her in the hospital. There are audio recordings of Jack and Beata Kowalski fighting with each other while they’re on the phone with attorneys. That the judge would issue a no-contact order between mother and daughter is just infuriating. By December, Maya would be in state custody for over two months. It would be 87 days in January 2017 and that’s when Beata ended up committing suicide by hanging herself. She appears in the documentary through archival audio recordings only. If this is Florida in 2016, just think about parents of transgender children in 2023! This is certainly not the way that our healthcare system should work.

Seeing what the doctors were texting each other after Beata’s suicide also leaves me with some questions. Why would anyone be texting things that make them look evil? There’s no mistake that the doctors were in the wrong. It’s only after 92 days in which the state would finally release Maya from custody. In any event, this should never have happened–Maya should have been free from the get-go. That doesn’t even begin to get started on the hospital dragging out the eventual lawsuit. It wasn’t until October 2022 in which the Second District Court of Appeals finally approved a request to pursue punitive damages. The trial won’t take place until September 11, 2023 but with a documentary on Netflix, it’ll be hard to find someone that didn’t hear about the case.

Take Care of Maya is going to end up being one of the most heartbreaking films of the year. The Kowalskis are just one family wrongfully accused of medical child abuse.

DIRECTOR: Henry Roosevelt

Take Care of Maya holds its world premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival in the Documentary Competition. Netflix will release the film on June 19, 2023. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.