Take Care of Maya: Where Is Sally Smith Now?

Maya Kowalski, Beata Kowalski, Jack Kowalski, Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick in Take Care of Maya
Credit: Netflix | Movies And Munchies

Maya Kowalski, Beata Kowalski, Jack Kowalski, Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick in Take Care of Maya
Credit: Netflix | Movies And Munchies

Over the weekend, Netflix released a new documentary that is stirring up a controversy. The documentary, entitled Take Care of Maya, follows a mother who committed suicide over allegations that she was making her daughter sick.

Beata Kowalski killed herself in 2017 three months after the state took away her nine-year-old daughter. Her daughter, Maya Kowalski, has been battling with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

The 43-year-old mother of two was alleged to be suffering a psychological condition known as Munchausen by Proxy (MSP).

As viewers, we can't help but wonder where the doctor who diagnosed Beata is today and whether she has been held liable for the incident.

So we ask:  Take Care of Maya: Where is Sally Smith now?

Who Is Dr. Sally Smith?

Dr. Sally Smith in Take Care of Maya
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Credit: Netflix

Dr. Sally Smith previously held the title of medical director for the Pinellas County Child Protective Services in Florida.

With her position, Dr. Smith was responsible for examining suspicious children that get admitted at the All Children's Hospital.

Dr. Smith graduated from the St. Louis University School of Medicine and started working at All Children's Hospital in the '90s.

She was later appointed as Pinellas County's medical director for child protection team in 2002. This is a position she held for almost 20 years.

How Did Dr. Sally Smith Examine Suspicious Cases?

Beata Kowalski, Maya Kowalski in Take Care of Maya
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Credit: Netflix | Movies And Munchies

In Florida, nearly all child abuse cases need to be evaluated by one of the child protection teams in the state. There are two dozen teams handling with such cases, each with its own certified child abuse pediatrician spearheading the cases.

In 2009, Dr. Smith was among the almost 200 physicians who argued the idea that well-trained doctors can now distinguish abuse and an accident via brain injury, burns, scars, and fractures.

In the case of Maya Kowalski, Dr. Smith examined her after doctors reported how her mother, Beata, did not want to take her child off of ketamine.

This led Dr. Smith to investigate the case and come to a conclusion that Beata had a psychological condition that caused her to make her child seem sicker than she actually was.

She alleged that Beata and Jack Kowalski made up fake symptoms of the Maya's CRPS. To note, Maya had been dealing with the condition for over a year already.

After looking into Maya's medical records, Dr. Smith came to a conclusion that Beata had MSP since they were "hospital shopping." The doctor believed this was a red flag for MSP.

Beata Kowalski, Maya Kowalski, Jack Kowalski in Take Care of Maya
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Credit: Netflix | Movies And Munchies

As a result of this allegation, state officials came and took Maya away from her parents and placed her under state custody.

While her father was allowed some way to speak to her, Beata wasn't. And this devastated Beata to the point that she committed suicide three months after losing custody of her daughter.

USA Today shared that prosecutors and law enforcement had a high regard for Dr. Smith. But apparently, this was a sentiment that defense attorneys, child welfare employees, and other parents did not share.

There have been complaints about Dr. Smith's aggressive interrogation tactics and for allegedly only meeting the patients for 10 minutes before coming up with a conclusion. Not to mention, she makes it a habit not to introduce herself beforehand.

But even with the "invisible" injuries that other doctors failed to notice, Dr. Smith was deemed credible enough to take her word as gold.

Other Similar Cases Involving Dr. Sally Smith

The Kowalski family in court in Take Care of Maya
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Credit: Netflix | Movies And Munchies

The Netflix documentary isn't the first time Dr. Sally Smith's name has been dragged into controversy. As a matter of fact, she has a history of making allegations that have caused irreparable harm and trauma to families.

In 2021, The USA Today Network conducted its own investigation into the allegations against Dr. Smith.

They discovered over a dozen cases with acquitted parents or caregivers and dropped charges. Despite these, the allegations made by Dr. Smith have affected their lives and reputations.

And even so, Dr. Smith has never been held liable for any of these cases. The investigation believes that Dr. Smith was "feeding into the state's child welfare industry."

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There have been several petitions to have the doctor fired. Numerous complaints have also been made on how she makes her assessments.

In 2021, Dr. Smith had a very public case that involved American Idol finalist Syesha Mercado and her 15-month-old son, Amen'Ra, for fears of malnutrition.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune shared that Smith removed Amen'Ra and the singer's newborn baby girl from her custody over claims that the parents were causing their malnutrition.

“Mercado’s breast milk supply started to run dry, and the boy would not accept other fluids.”

Following this, protesters clamored in support of Mercado, which forced the state to return the child to their mother.

It is alleged that this incident may have led the doctor to retire.

Where Is Dr. Sally Smith Now?

The Kowalski family in Take Care of Maya
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Credit: Netflix

The Cut ​​reported that Dr. Sally Smith retired in 2021. Despite this, her name is still listed as an independent practitioner at the John Hopkins All Children's Hospital (JHACH) staff page.

Her name can also be seen on the staff page of the Bayfront Health. But we don't know any other details of her role in the health system.

She will likely be facing the lawsuit against the Kowalski family, which will begin in September 2023.

Take Care of Maya is now available to stream on Netflix.

RELATED: Take Care of Maya: What Happened to Beata Kowalski?

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