ABC News(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) — Exactly one year after 14 people were killed and 22 more injured when ISIS-inspired terrorists went on a shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, surviving victims are speaking out, saying that they are going through a second trauma: a betrayal.
In interviews with ABC News and affiliate stations, survivors say that the injuries they sustained in one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil are being treated just like any other workers’ compensation and that they are regularly denied medical care.
With the shrapnel from two bullets still embedded in her leg, Amanda Gaspard, 32, walks with a cane and says she lives every day with pain — emotional and physical — after being shot by Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik.
While Gaspard was Farook’s partner at the San Bernardino County Health Department, leading the program at the gathering that tragic day, he did not spare her from the melee of bullets one year ago.
The attack has left her unable to walk without frequent breaks and suffering from post-traumatic stress so severe that she is incapable of speaking about the attack without breaking down.
But one year since the attack that saw her lose half her blood, Gaspard told ABC News that the county’s claims administrator told her that a surgery and other treatment she needs were too expensive and would not be approved under California’s workers’ compensation guidelines.
“They do not want to pay for it,” she told ABC News’ Brian Ross in an interview on Wednesday. “I am in pain every single day.”
Gaspard is not alone. Other survivors speak of denials for care and medicine.
“My medications got denied — like just cut off in October,” said Sally Cardinale, a program specialist for the county. “I was on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, and…a blood pressure medicine to help level me out and help let me sleep without nightmares and things like that.”
“None of those three medicines are supposed to be cut off without any weaning or anything like that, and they just cut them off,” she said.
Ray Britain, who was the interim Division Chief for the Division of Environmental Health Services, said that “right now, the process is denying everybody medication, therapy and surgeries.”
“These are people that were shot. A lot of the things that we’re talking about — we’re talking about people having to fight for surgeries, for physical therapy to try and learn to walk again,” he said.
Asked about these allegations by ABC News, David Wert, a spokesman for San Bernardino County, said, “our county has not denied care to anyone,” and “denials are rare. When they occur, the county shares in the employees’ frustration.”
Noting the availability of an appeals process, he said, “so far, of the many hundreds of treatments submitted for review in connection with Dec. 2, only two denials have been appealed.”
On Monday, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors said that it is now going to bring in a new outside set of claims adjusters to review the cases of those employees involved in the attack.
Gaspard says her frustrations with the bureaucracy and denials had added to her suffering over the past year.
Shortly after telling the county that ABC news was investigating, Gaspard says good news arrived.
On Thursday, she got word that the county had agreed to a deal with her hospital for her surgery to go ahead.
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