In a gesture that will cost them millions of dollars, Orlando Health and Florida Hospital have announced they will not bill victims of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting for the care they received.
The June 12 incident killed 49 people and injured 53 others. Even some of the victims with minor injuries had bills of $20,000 or more. Economists have suggested that the total healthcare costs for both medical and mental health services could be as high as $7 million.
“The pulse shooting was a horrendous tragedy for the victims, their families and our entire community,” Orlando Health Chief Executive Officer David Strong told the Orlando Sentinel. “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 Health estimates its costs will be around $5 million. Florida Hospital projects its costs at about $525,000.
The charges will extend to family members of victims as well, according to the Sentinel. Nine victims died while being cared for at the hospitals.
Florida Hospital said it would not even bill the insurance companies of victims who have health coverage.
“It was incredible to see how our community came together in the wake of the senseless Pulse shooting,” Florida Hospital CEO and President Daryl Tol said in a statement to CNN. “We hope this gesture can add to the heart and goodwill that defines Orlando.”
The ongoing incidents of mass shootings have forced hospitals to reevaluate their operations, including how their medical teams respond to such shootings, or even how staff should respond to shootings that occur inside hospitals.
Orlando Health also said it would work with victims over the long-term for any healthcare needs related to their injuries.
"As for future medical treatments and costs, 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," Kena Lewis, a spokesperson with the hospital, told USA Today. "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."