Our mental health therapists reported to the family room where parents, siblings and friends anxiously waited to hear if their loved ones were in fact in the hospital or as many feared, among the casualties at Pulse. The therapists as well as guest services, chaplain and patient experience teams provided support as the families waited for updates from the administrators and medical staff. Our discharge planning team made sure as many patients as possible were discharged from the inpatient units. As the teams walked around, there was a sense of shock across our hospital.
I live near Pulse and all roads were blocked on Sunday, so the first day I could physically get to the hospital was Monday. I checked in with our nursing supervisors for a list of the victims and their locations. Our department's main focus was making sure the emotional support was available for the victims and the families, and enough discharges were taking place across the hospital to accommodate the large number of patients who came in Sunday morning. Many of my team members told me how other patients in the hospital asked to be discharged to make sure the staff could care for the victims. This was the first sign of the support we would receive from the Central Florida community and across the world.
Community providers began to reach out to offer emotional support and donate whatever services were needed. Because we were still in the assessment phase, we were uncertain what would be needed. When we learned many of the victims and their families were primarily Spanish speaking, we asked our sister hospitals to send counselors who were bilingual. Our teams began to email each other to offer assistance and share resources as they were identified. Many of the community outpatient mental health services offered their support and educational material for the victims and families.
Soon after the incident, the City of Orlando arranged a service fair so the families and victims could learn about the services available to them, including victim services, FBI advocates, Medicaid application assistance, airline companies, emotional support and country consulate connections. Once we heard about the fair, I reached out to our Community Relations and Government Relations departments to confirm I could attend the fair and gather information for the victims who were still in the hospital. At the fair, I met with the FBI victim advocates, who later became the best resource for the victims. Later in the week, I met with the assigned hospital FBI victims services advocates and we rounded on each victim to make sure they received the packet of information and any additional resources that were available.
Our hospital also received a generous donation of durable medical equipment from a local company to offer the victims. Rehab centers and home health companies also offered pro bono services to the victims.
The FBI advocates connected with the Orange County victim services to complete the application for financial assistance for medical coverage for victims. The FBI advocates then offered additional services such as cleaning of clothes, jewelry, shoes, assistance with having family members from out of the country come to the United States to provide care for the victims, and any other request from the victims.
Soon after the event, online financial donations began to pour in to support the victims. The City of Orlando did an amazing job of organizing the One Orlando Fund. Victims and families began to ask our team about the fund. With the assistance of our Government Relations department, a phone call was arranged so we could learn more about the process of applying for the fund and tell the victims and families. Once the contact information was identified, we created a document to share with the victims and families. Any new resource that became available through the generosity of the community also was shared.