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The Commons
Voices / Letters from readers

For victim of mass shooting, a long and difficult recovery is hampered by municipal insurance red tape

Originally published in The Commons issue #393 (Wednesday, February 1, 2017).



Dec. 2, 2015 is a day that will be etched in our minds for the rest of our lives.

After a quiet morning decorating our church for the Christmas holiday, I returned home for lunch. I then received a phone call that would dramatically change our lives.

A co-worker of my daughter Amanda was struggling to get the words out, telling me that Amanda had been shot, and then she quickly hung up the phone. I was in shock and disbelief and immediately tried calling back.

When the co-worker answered, she explained that Amanda was alive and had actually prayed with her. But on further questioning, she did not know how severe Amanda’s injuries were — just that there was a lot of blood.

After frantically trying to reach my husband and other daughter, I then turned on the TV to learn that there was an active shooter situation going on in San Bernardino, Calif., where Amanda worked.

As my husband’s coworkers drove him home, I began calling every hospital I knew of in the area. After what seemed like an eternity, we received a phone call from a nurse working in the emergency room, one who allowed us to actually speak to Amanda. What a relief to know that she was alive. A doctor told us that she had been shot multiple times and that she was being taken to surgery.

Here we are, 14 months later and we are still living with the aftermath of that horrible day.

After flying out to California the next morning, we learned that Amanda had sustained significant trauma to her lower extremities and lost half of her blood volume.

After days in one hospital and then another facility for rehab, we chose to bring her home to Hinsdale, as we did not want to leave her alone in a nursing home for the next several months.

It has been a very long and difficult road for Amanda. If you see her around town, she will always look cheerful and happy, but she is, in fact, working hard not to give in to depression and agoraphobia.

She suffers from PTSD and also needs reconstructive surgery on her knee. It took her months to be able to walk without assistive devices, but she does so with a great deal of pain.

There are many activities that she cannot do, such as kneel, squat, or run. Her right knee was severely damaged, and she needs a bone and articular cartilage graft.

In an unbelievable turn of events, the County of San Bernardino began to deny Worker’s Compensation benefits to the survivors within a few short months of the incident.

Amanda learned from her other coworkers that they, too, were being denied medications, physical therapy, and other treatments. As the anniversary of the incident approached, she decided to go public with her story and did an interview with Brian Ross of ABC News and with The New York Times. Several of the other survivors also did interviews in southern California.

The county then approved Amanda’s diagnostic knee arthroscopy, a procedure needed to determine the extent of the bone graft. But as of Jan. 24, they have once again issued a denial for her bone graft, quoting insufficient evidence that it would be beneficial.

At this time, we cannot do a GoFundMe campaign because the survivors feel strongly that the county has the funds to take care of them but is just refusing to do so. The survivors’ care has cost $22 million thus far, but the county’s insurance has picked up over 90 percent of that sum. Thus, the county has paid only about $2 million out of pocket.

The county’s annual budget this fiscal year is $5.4 billion, so they almost certainly have enough money to cover the survivors’ care — they just are refusing to do so. The survivors are also not allowed to use their own personal insurance for which they continue to pay monthly premiums.

We are hoping that public pressure will force them to do the right thing.

People have asked us what they can do. We invite you to go to www.sbsurvivors.com and go to the section “How You Can Help.”

Diane Gaspard


Hinsdale, N.H.

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