When we have had drills in the past and needed a family room, we designated an area and made arrangements to deliver water and blankets. We now know there is much more needed than just a location and basic creature comforts.
The families we cared for needed emotional support, so we needed grief counselors. They needed spiritual support, so we needed chaplains. They needed medical support, so we needed EMTs, nurses and paramedics. And this group needed cultural support — it had been Latin night at Pulse, and we needed Spanish-speaking interpreters.
Another key learning was that while the clinical activity at the hospital returned to normal relatively quickly — we cared for car accident victims around 10:00 am in the trauma center, and we had nearly 500 other patients in our units that day — the aftermath of the Pulse incident went on for months.
On Monday morning, we recognized that the families of our patients needed help navigating their new circumstances, so we assigned non-clinical managers to each family to help them with everything from travel arrangements and accommodations to guiding them through the law enforcement process and community support system that was put in place. We did this for 10 days until we had fewer than 10 Pulse patients in house, and our nursing and care coordination teams could take over.
We received so many requests from VIPs and other concerned citizens who wanted to visit and comfort the victims and our team — this went on for about a month — that we called in support from our corporate areas, including community and government relations, marketing and our foundation to help manage them.
And we were absolutely overwhelmed and humbled by the incredible generosity and acts of compassion provided by the community and the country. We set up a team in our volunteers office to manage the daily deliveries of cards, gifts, food and flowers.