Dec 5, 2016
Last December, a San Bernardino County worker and his wife shot up a holiday party, killing 14 county workers and wounding 22. The spokesman for the county said that caring for those affected by the attack was a top priority for the county.
But in fact those 22 victims have been left high and dry by California’s workers’ compensation system – a system set up to protect employers, not to provide health care.
The husband of one victim, Hanan Megalla, who was shot four times, said “her doctors keep asking for physical therapy, they keep asking for medication, each time the doctor writes a prescription... they shoot it down.” After a fight, he got some medications approved, but “they keep telling you it’s only approved for one time only. Which means every month we have to go through this refill drama again. It’s unbearable.”
Another victim, Valerie Kallis-Weber, has a paralyzed left hand, bone and bullet fragments in her pelvis, a fist-sized gouge in her thigh, and psychological trauma. “I can’t type, I can’t put a bra on, I can’t cut a steak, I can’t drive, I can’t do laundry... I can’t do much walking or standing or sitting,” she explained. But the workers’ comp system reduced visits from her health aide. They cut off her occupational therapy. They stopped her physical therapy. They withdrew approval to pay for her anti-depressant drugs.
Amanda Gaspard was shot in her leg and her forearm, shattering bone and tissue. She lost half her blood. “I have literally hundreds of pieces of shrapnel in me. The word ‘painful’ doesn’t do it justice.” But workers compensation will not pay for her physical therapy. Doctors’ requests for therapeutic exercise sessions with a trainer have been denied. The county has made only two payments for the psychological appointments she’s gone to every week since last January.
Sally Cardinale, another victim, said, “I don’t feel like they have had any compassion for us. We were victims when it was convenient for them.” Yes, the disgusting politicians used these victims for their own ends, invoking their suffering when it was useful, but failing to provide the most basic human level of care.
The county workers shot in San Bernardino are just the most outrageous victims of a system designed to shift ever more wealth to employers, at the expense of workers everywhere.