It’s been a little more than a year since gunfire ripped through an office building in San Bernardino, California, where workers at the local health department had just finished hosting a holiday party. The terrorist attack, carried out by a former employee and his wife, happened on Dec. 2, 2015, and it resulted in 14 deaths and 22 serious injuries. The assailants escaped in a sport utility vehicle but were later shot and killed by police.
Today, neither the physical nor the emotional trauma has greatly subsided. Victims say it is further compounded by the fact that they are having to fight for full and continued workers’ compensation benefits. One woman says she has had numerous surgeries and subsequent infections. Her left hand is paralyzed. She has bullet fragments in her pelvis. She has suffered permanent tissue damage and scarring. The psychological trauma is intense. She needs more surgeries. A home health aid helps her with basic tasks. She can’t put on a bra. She can’t type. She can’t drive. She can’t do laundry. She can’t cut her own food. She can’t put on her socks and shoes.
Yet her visits from the home health aid have dwindled, and she is told they will likely end soon altogether. According to the Seattle Times, her requests for continued occupational and physical therapy have been denied. She was also denied continued use of her antidepressant medications. These are reportedly not the result of a conflict with her health insurer but instead with her employer. That’s because this incident was considered a form of workplace violence, and thus it falls under the umbrella of workers’ compensation.