My first Orlando Health board retreat ended Friday afternoon, June 10, 2016. The retreat had been a great success. It was the accumulation of nine months of focused work attempting to determine the best strategies to improve the organization’s performance. I was ecstatic with the delivery of the material, organizational involvement in the development of the plan and the board’s enthusiasm regarding the direction we would be headed in the coming months and years. As excited as I was, I also was exhausted and very much looking forward to a quiet, peaceful weekend.
The quiet and peaceful weekend was shattered Sunday morning at 4:53 am. I rolled over, answered my cell phone and was quickly awakened by the sorrow-filled voice of Orlando Health’s chief operating officer, Dr. Jamal Hakim. Jamal had just received a call from Mark Jones, president of Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC), alerting him of a mass shooting and hostage situation in downtown Orlando. ORMC was the primary recipient of the victims. As we spoke, my wife turned on the television and news coverage of the shooting already had begun. Quickly getting out of bed, I debated if I should put on a suit or just slacks and a shirt. I skipped the suit, thinking that I would save time. I would wear the same slacks and shirt for the next 17 hours. I started the car and turned on CNN. I thought about how thankful I was that I had broken down and renewed the XM radio the week prior. My mind raced as I hurriedly drove on the empty tollway, listening to the CNN anchors trying to piece together an awful shooting that was unfolding in my hometown. I could see the lights from the countless first responder vehicles as I pulled onto Orange Avenue. I immediately drew a deep breath and prayed for wisdom and the protection of our team members and physicians.