SAN BERNARDINO – Survivors from the December 2, 2015, San Bernardino terrorist attack have accused the County of San Bernardino of telling the media one thing, and the survivors another.
Survivors over 18 months later, are suffering from ongoing physical and mental health treatment which the county is now refusing to cover some of. Recently, the county has received $5.3 million dollars in federal funding, $4 million of that was provided to help those affected by the attack that left many suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While the county refers to the survivors as being part of the “County family”, they are denying necessary medical and mental health treatment.
The County went so far as to refuse to pay for the full cost of bone graft surgery for survivor Amanda Gaspard. “The County agreed to pay only 20% of her surgery costs and passed the rest of the bill on to the State of California,” the news release stated. Amanda had the necessary bone graft surgery on her knee at the end of March 2017. Amanda learned that payments for her physical therapy are being denied.
“Why is the County denying me physical therapy, when they have enough money to pay for it? It takes a very long time to recover from a bone graft surgery. I was using a walker and was on crutches for six weeks after the operation. I could not even bear full weight on my right leg and try to walk on my own until May 2017. The County cut off physical therapy payments effective June 2017, the following month. So do the math – it makes absolutely no sense,” says Amanda Gaspard. “The healing process takes months and months. I am still in need of physical therapy, and will continue to be in need of it for quite some time. I am in pain every single day, and I still struggle with functioning physically. It is just unbelievable to me that the County is denying me physical therapy when they have more than enough money to pay for my treatment.”
The language in the denial letter made one injured employee, Amanda Gaspart felling like much less than family. In the denial, the county refers to themselves as “the defendant” in the letter denying treatment to the hospital providing physical therapy:
“The defendant is objecting to liability for these services for the reasons other than a fee dispute on the grounds:
- The charges represent unauthorized, self-procured medical treatment that was non-certified/denied by Utilization Review program as described in and allowed under CA Labor Code Sec. 4610 and 4604.5.
- All charges are denied as self-procured.
- Please consider this notice as an objection to any and all charges which applicant my [sic] self-procure.
- Further services provided will be at your own risk.”
“Why is the County referring to itself as a ‘defendant’? The County is my employer! I do not have a lawyer, nor have I had a lawyer in the past,” said survivor Amanda Gaspard. “When I read the County letter and all that ‘legalese’ I got so anxious. I cannot even begin to explain the anxiety and stress that I am going through now that I’ve found out what the County is doing yet again to me.”
Delays and denials have been attributed to lack of proper paperwork from healthcare providers.
“In many cases, this is simply not true, said the San Bernardino Survivors Speak Out officials. “However, in situations where there is a problem with paperwork, the responsibility for remedying that problem ought to fall on the shoulders of the County and their contracted nurse case management agency IWCC, not on the survivors who are still suffering physically and mentally.”
San Bernardino Survivors Speak Out is an advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness about how the County of San Bernardino is delaying and denying physical therapy, medications, antibiotics, surgeries, medical treatment, and mental health care to survivors of the December 2, 2015, terrorist attack.
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