Orlando Health and Florida Hospitals will not be billing victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in June, writing off at least $5.5 million in accumulated costs.
The Orlando Health network has eight facilities in the area and Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC), its main hospital, was just a couple of blocks away from the nightclub. After the June 12 attack, ORMC attended to the 44 out of more than 50 people hurt while Florida Hospital treated dozens of others.
"The Pulse shooting was a horrendous tragedy for the victims, their families and our entire community," said David Strong, CEO and president for Orlando Health, adding that the move to not bill the victims is a way of paying forward the kindness and support the hospital network received from individuals, charities and organizations.
According to Kena Lewis, the hospital chain's spokesperson, bills will be sent to health insurance providers for ORMC patients with coverage and whatever their policies will not cover will be shouldered. Nine people died after arriving at the hospital and their families too will not be charged.
At Florida Hospital, however, bills will not be sent to insurance providers nor will patients be charged for any follow-up surgeries that they will need due to the attack.
Follow-up surgeries for victims will also be covered at Orlando Health.
Daryl Tol, CEO and president of Florida Hospital, said it was incredible to see the community coming together after shooting and he hopes their gesture will add to the goodwill and heart defining Orlando.
Survivors were more than glad to hear the news.
One victim, for instance, was just visiting from Miami when he went to Pulse after a housewarming party at a friend's. However, what was supposed to be a fun night out with friends turned to a nightmare quickly after a gunman opened fire at the nightclub.
After the traumatizing event in Pulse, he then had to spend seven hours in the hospital after fragments of a bullet exploded into his left side and he split his elbow on a glass shard after being hit. He may have survived the shooting, but he was going home with a possible $20,000 bill had he been charged for the care he received for his injuries.
According to Terry DeCarlo from the LGBT Center of Central Florida, Orlando Health's move to foot the bill will have a strong psychological effect on the victims.
"To have this taken off their shoulders lets the healing go a little further, and faster," he said.
With zero hospital bills to worry about, the victims can focus on addressing other financial issues they may be facing once grants from the One Orlando fund are released starting in October.