County horribly slow to act on survivors’ hell

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Photo/Associated Press: Survivors consoling one another after two shooters killed 14 people and injured 22 others at the Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2, 2015.

Survivors of last year’s terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino may eventually overcome their personal, internal hardship.

But they shouldn’t do so alone. Which is why news of them being denied medical treatment and medication is a disgrace.

On Monday, dozens of survivors confronted the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors–pleading to those officials to continue to support their healing as the one year anniversary of the tragedy nears.

One can only envision what the 57 survivors of the attack witnessed. Imagine being inside the Inland Regional Center a year ago–heart pumping heavily as you hide under a desk to dodge bullets, seeing coworkers lying on the floor lifeless, bloodied, and battered, feeling like your life would be taken from you in seconds from someone, who only a few hours before, posed in holiday photos with you.

“Let me tell you what I do on my days off: I stay in bed. Because that’s what I can manage,” survivor Leilah Kelsey told the Supervisors on Monday. “The nightmares – (you) can’t even imagine the nightmares. Without the assistance, I don’t know how we’re going to get through this.”

Even after their countless stories of delays and denials of medication, surgery, physical and mental therapy, and other treatment, the survivors were denied an honest answer from a board that promised to offer support .

Why are County officials denying their workers–individuals who have devoted time and effort to keep our region healthy and safe–much needed relief?

They are sending a succinct message to survivors and the community: the well-being of their own employees comes second to other interests.

San Bernardino County is able to dole out thousands of dollars to ensure they help homeless and the unemployed, and with little effort, such people get the services they need.

However, the so-called process of “utilization review”–protection against unnecessary and inappropriate medical care–has County Risk Management officials throwing up their hands, claiming there’s nothing they could do for the Dec.2 survivors.

I find that hard to believe. Insurance specialists and workers’ compensation attorneys would agree. Geraldine Ly, who legally represents eight survivors, told the Press Enterprise on November 19 that the County’s Risk Management department could authorize prescriptions, counseling and other needs without sending claims to utilization review.

The Supervisors have met with survivors and their legal representatives in attempts to resolve the issue. Yet, so far the only solution presented by County officials is hiring an outside firm in attempts to resolve the crisis.

When one looks at the anguish on these victims’ faces as they are forced to beg for medication it just intensifies the disdain I have for how it’s come to this.

Let us hope that San Bernardino County takes the right action now to lessen the suffering of these survivors who have went through a hell none of us would ever want to experience.

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