Touching gesture: Orlando hospitals won’t bill Pulse nightclub shooting victims

Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a touching gesture for the victims of the horrific Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando. The Orlando hospitals that treated dozens of people injured in the Pulse nightclub massacre are not billing survivors for out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Not a day goes by that Josean Garcia doesn’t think about that night. “Listening to music kind of reminds me of it. You expect to hear gunshots again,” The Polk County man told News Channel 8 on Thursday.

He went to Pulse Nightclub on the night of the massacre with a group of friends. Two of his friends didn’t make it out. Some of his other friends were shot, and he was injured as he crawled to get out. Many of them have been left with astronomical medical bills.

“They haven’t been able to work. They have rent, they have bills, and responsibilities and a big concern is that hospital bill that’s going to come,” Garcia said.

Orlando Health, which treated most of the survivors of the June 12 attack, announced Wednesday that it would seek payment from other resources. These include state and federal funds, private insurance, disability insurance, Florida’s crime victim compensation program, funding sources established for individual victims, means-tested programs like Medicaid, as well as charity care provided by Orlando Health.

Even with these multiple funding sources, Orlando Health’s total un-reimbursed costs could exceed $5 million.

“The Pulse shooting was a horrendous tragedy for the victims, their families, and our entire community. During this very trying time, many organizations, individuals, and charities have reached out to Orlando Health to show their support. This is simply our way of paying that kindness forward.” said David Strong, President/CEO, Orlando Health.

For the survivors, recovery is far from over. “The ripple effect of this tragedy I think people don’t realize,” Robin Maynard said. She helps run the Pulse of Orlando Fund, which helps the victims with money while they wait for One Orlando funds.

“This is a huge burden lifted. I mean, there’s so much they’re already going through and trying to deal with mentally, to not have to worry about hospital bills is wonderful,” Maynard said.

“Hearing it really shows that the community has come together. It’s beautiful. There’s hate everywhere, but there’s so much love in Orlando,” Garcia said.

As for future medical treatments and costs, the a hospital spokesperson said, “We can’t predict the future needs of these patients, their financial situations, or what the state or federal governments may require us to do for charity policies.

So, while we can’t assume we will provide free care forever, we will use our very generous charity and financial assistance policies to assess the best way to ensure our patients get quality care here at Orlando Health in the most fiscally responsible manner.”

Florida Hospital, which treated 12 survivors, says it would not bill for any of its services.

The attack killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The gunman, Omar Mateen, was killed by police after a three-hour standoff.

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