As an Orlando native, it has been absolutely incredible to watch the community come together after the horrific attack at the Pulse nightclub.
Orlando Health, a non-profit network of medical facilities that includes the Orlando Regional Hospital that most Pulse victims were treated at, kept the spirit of community alive by announcing that they would not be charging any of the victims for their care. They released this statement:
“Orlando Health 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. We are exploring numerous options to help the victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy address immediate and ongoing medical costs,”
Florida Hospital, which treated 12 victims, is also footing the bill of $525,400. Daryl Tol, president and CEO of Florida Hospital and Central Florida Region-Adventist Health System, had this to say:
“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,”
As a resident of this city for 20 years, he is right. Heart and goodwill are absolutely what defines Orlando. When the city was attacked, we didn’t care about each other’s political affiliations or ethnic backgrounds, we cared about doing all we could to help our neighbors in a time of need. People filled the streets the day after the attack donating blood, food, and water to those who suffered and those who volunteered to help in the aftermath. The phrase “Orlando United” is more than just a hashtag, it is reality.
This stands in stark contrast with the volatile political world we live in. People around the country, including presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, immediately seized the opportunity to either blame Muslims or pander to the LGBT community. While that was the sentiment on the campaign trail, the city of Orlando remained almost impervious to it. We showed, and continue to show through the actions of these hospitals, that things are made infinitely better when people stand together as one in times of trouble. Orlando should be an example to the rest of the country, and I could not be more proud to call this city my home.