Survivors of the Orlando shooting who were treated for injuries will not be charged by Orlando Health and Florida Hospital. They will not have to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses because hospital officials decided to write off an estimated $5.5 million in care. The worst mass shooting in modern American history left 49 people dead and 53 wounded last June at the Pulse nightclub, which marked an act of hate and terror targeting the gay community.

Orlando Regional Medical Center, which is Orlando Health’s main hospital, treated 44 of the victims who required urgent medical care. The gay dance club is a couple of blocks away from the Level 1 trauma center of the ORMC, where one of the survivors remains hospitalized. The families of the nine patients who passed away shortly after arriving at the hospital also will not be billed.

Orlando Health and Florida Hospital is not going to charge Pulse Nightclub victims for their medical expenses. Image Credit: Japan times

“During this very trying time, many organizations, individuals, and charities have reached out to Orlando Health to show their support,” reads a statement from Orlando Health President and CEO David Strong, according to Reuters. “This is simply our way of paying that kindness forward.”

Spokeswoman Kena Lewis said bills at Orlando Health will be sent to health insurers for those patients who had coverage, but the hospital chain will absorb what those policies fail to cover, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

She pointed out that the future needs of these patients and their financial situations are unpredictable, as well as federal government requirements that could emerge for charity policies. Lewis added that Orlando Health officials will take advantage of their generous charity and financial assistance policies to come up with the best strategies to help.

For their part, Florida Hospital officials said the insurance of the dozen of the clubgoers who were treated there will not be billed for treatment, nor will they charge for follow-up surgeries the patients may need.

The hospital said 12 shooting victims were treated there at a cost of about $525,400, according to the LA Times. President and CEO Daryl Tol said he was amazed by the way the community came together to help the survivors and mourn the fatal victims. He added he hoped the gesture of not charging the patients for the treatment they received can “add to the heart and goodwill” for which Orlando is known.

The story of a relieved patient

Mario Lopez, an uninsured 34-year-old survivor who was visiting from Miami when he went to Pulse, was relieved to learn that the hospital will not seek payment from his seven-hour visit. He had fragments of a bullet explode into his left side and the care he received would have had cost about $20,000, a bill he cannot afford.

“I just went out for a fun night with friends. No one expected this to happen. My life was turned upside down, and then I had to worry about how I was going to pay back the hospital,” Lopez told LA Times. He added that it was truly a huge relief to know he will not be charged at all.

His physical wounds are healing but he said the emotional trauma still haunts him. He has his tough moments each day, Lopez expressed.

According to U.S. authorities, shooter Omar Mateen was self-radicalized and committed the attack individually without any assistance or instructions from abroad. The nightclub has not opened since the shooting.

Source: Los Angeles Times