-- The survivors of an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack that left 14 people dead and 22 others injured in San Bernardino, California, say that they still struggle to receive medical treatments despite assurances from the county that their care would be expedited.
The San Bernardino Survivors Speak Out support and advocacy group said in a statement on Friday that the county “has failed to expedite the workers comp process,” and has been slow in providing information to a firm that it hired last month to accelerate the process.
Amanda Gaspard, who has struggled to get a surgery despite the fact that she still had the shrapnel of two bullets embedded in her leg, said that her frustrations with the bureaucracy and denials had added to her suffering over the past year.
“They do not want to pay for it,” she told ABC News last month. “I am in pain every single day.”
Her surgery was approved shortly after she spoke out.
Sally Cardinale and Ray Britain, who both survived the attack, said in December that medications were regularly being denied.
“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,” Britain said.
On Dec. 19, San Bernardino County CEO Greg Devereaux sent a letter to the survivors saying that IWCC had been hired to “help expedite your workers’ compensation cases,” and that he expected the firm to contact injured employees or their lawyers by Dec. 29.
But as of today, according to the group, some of the survivors have still not heard a word from IWCC.
In a phone call with ABC News, a spokesman for IWCC, Harold Anderson, “cannot comment at all” on the claims, and he would not say how many of the survivors had been contacted.
Asked by ABC News about these claims, a spokesman for San Bernardino County, David Wert, said: "As of this moment, IWCC has reached or attempted to reach all but two of the 53 who should have been contacted, and they will be contacted today. There were several who IWCC tried to contact by phone to no avail. Letters were then sent out to them."
The group also claims that on Jan. 5, an employee of IWCC “claimed that the County had taken awhile to approve sharing file information and thus she was only about half way through the list,” and that, “she was running into road blocks and hurdles with helping the survivors.”
On this, Wert said that county's system used for handling this kind of information only allows country staff access, and "legally, the county could not grant that level of access to an outside firm such as IWCC."
He added that the county had to reconfigure the system to protect employees' privacy and allow the private firm access. He also said that
This story has been updated.