San Bernardino survivors fight for extension of benefits

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
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Survivors of the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack pleaded before the county Board of Supervisors to continue their benefits.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Nearly a year after the deadly terrorist attack in San Bernardino, survivors continue to cope with the nightmare and may soon run out of the help they've been receiving.

Survivors, such as Sally Cardinale, pleaded before the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to continue benefits to help the victims of the massacre.

"The trauma from them is almost starting to overshadow the trauma of the day," Cardinale said.

Cardinale hid in a bathroom as her co-worker Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik shot and killed 14 people and injured dozens of others at the Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2, 2015.

Days from the one-year mark of the terror attack, Cardinale has been denied the medications that help her cope with her post-traumatic stress disorder.

"None of those three medicines are supposed to be cut off like without any weaning or anything like that and they just cut them off," Cardinale said.

She was one of several survivors of the attack who said they were cut off from therapy and medication they needed from the county's workers' compensation program.

"Hard to fathom when the doctors are sitting down and saying, 'I'm sorry, my hands are tied, I can't give you anything because the county won't let me,'" Anthony Harold, the husband of a survivor, said.

A spokesperson said medical requests are not approved by the county, but by a review board made up of a group of doctors who determine whether the medicine is needed.

Geraldine Ly, a lawyer representing eight of the survivors, said the county should step in to help.

"It's a simple gesture of empathy and sympathy to go ahead and authorize the medication that they need, the physical therapy they need to get better," Ly said.

The board went into closed session to discuss the concerns on Monday, but not before Cardinale made her message clear.

"You want us to beg for help? I'm begging you for help. We need our medications, we need our surgeries, we need our physical therapy," she said.

San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos released the following statement on behalf of the board:

"The recovery of our employees is one of the county's highest priorities. The Board of Supervisors met today and discussed the concerns raised during this afternoon's public comment session. In light of the unique nature of the December 2 cases, the county is committed to continuing to take steps to expedite the process and get our people the care they need."The workers' compensation system includes review procedures and requires documentation of treatment. Many of the concerns raised today during public comment stem from the county not receiving supporting documentation from employees' providers. The county will increase efforts to work with those providers to obtain the documentation needed to move forward with approving treatments."Based on concerns expressed by the Board of Supervisors, the county will hire a firm whose sole function will be to expedite the process for our employees. Moving forward, the board will continue to monitor cases to ensure employees are receiving the care and attention they deserve in a timely manner."