Orlando Health And Florida Hospital Won’t Charge Survivors Of Pulse Nightclub Massacre, Forgive Millions In Medical Expenses

In what can only be described as a blessing for the survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre, two of the hospitals that they were taken to, Orlando Regional Medical Center and Florida Hospital, have announced that they will be absorbing the costs for the medical treatments they received. The announcement came on Wednesday and means that the survivors will not have any out-of-pocket payments to contend with from the hospitals.

This decision by the hospitals, which treated the dozens of survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre, will lead to an estimated $5.5 million or more in care being written off. Orlando Regional treated majority of the survivors and spokeswoman Kena Lewis advised that they plan to recuperate their losses from other sources, of which there is no shortage after the massacre. They have billing options such as personal insurance plans as well as through a victims fund that city officials have set up, charity care, state and federal funds, disability insurance, and a state program designed to compensate victims of crime.

The hospital “has not sent any hospital or medical bills directly to Pulse patients and we don’t intend to pursue reimbursement of medical costs from them.”

Orlando Health is a nonprofit health-care network that operates Orlando Regional and its president and CEO, David Strong, says that it is the least the hospital could do in the face of such tragedy.

“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.”

Orlando Regional is only about half a mile away from the nightclub and after the massacre which took 49 lives, most of the persons injured in the June 12 attack were taken to its Level 1 trauma center. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the hospital gave treatment to 44 of the more than 50 victims who were left alive but injured when a gunman stormed into the gay nightclub and opened fire in the early morning hours. The gunman, who is said to have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, took hostages in the bathroom at Pulse for a number of hours before he was killed by police during a shootout, bringing the total number of persons killed in the entire incident to 50.

Nine of the patients brought to ORMC after the Pulse shooting, unfortunately, succumbed to their injuries and died soon after their arrival, and hospital officials have said that their families will not be charged either. Even now, one of the victims remains in the hospital there.

Florida Hospital has decided to take a different approach from Orlando Health, though, and will be doing a complete and total coverage of the expenses they incurred while treating the survivors of the Pulse massacre. The hospital will neither be billing the insurance companies of the victims for their initial treatments nor will they charge for any costs incurred during any follow-up surgeries that the survivors may have needed to undergo.

ABC News affiliate WPBF has a statement from Daryl Tol, Florida Hospital’s president and CEO, which gives some insight into the reason the hospital decided to cover all the victim’s expenses.

“It was incredible to see how our community came together in the wake of the senseless Pulse shooting. We hope this gesture can add to the heart and goodwill that defines Orlando.”

The massacre at Pulse continues to be investigated and has been described as both a hate crime and an act of terrorism by the FBI director and the U.S. Attorney General. In much the same way that it is done after other mass shootings, in an effort to aid law enforcement in improving their preparation and reactions for any future attacks, the Orlando Police Department has requested that the Justice Department review the law enforcement response to the Pulse massacre.

The survivors are elated at the news regarding the coverage of their medical expenses.

[Photo by John Raoux/AP Images]

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