Editor's note: The news coverage following the San Bernardino attack on Dec. 2 focused largely on some of the grimmest details. As the coverage continued, many readers wrote to us asking for more attention on the first responders.
Among those first responders were the medical personnel at Loma Linda University Medical Center, which has the closest trauma center to the site of the attack and treated many of the shooting victims. Nearly two months after the attack, Richard Hart, president of Loma Linda University Health, and Kerry Heinrich, chief executive of Loma Linda University Medical Center, wrote to The Times to express their gratitude for the support they received in the wake of the tragedy. Here is their letter.
To the editor: The staff at Loma Linda University Health would like to express its heartfelt thanks for the incredible outpouring of support after last month's shooting. We worked fervently to save the lives of those who were taken to our facility in the aftermath of this horrific event, and our hearts cried for those we could not help.
Hospitals including Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego and UC Irvine Medical Center offered to send staff. On the day of the tragedy, local businesses sent us food and water. Pizza deliveries also arrived from anonymous emergency nurses from Boston and Texas.
Over the past several weeks, hospital staff and administration have received numerous cards and letters from members of the local community and communities across the country. Just a couple of weeks ago our public relations office received a gift basket from their counterparts at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Ore., which recently dealt with a mass shooting at a nearby community college. The Medical Center of Aurora in Colorado sent a large banner with more than 100 staff signatures and a note of encouragement from Dan Miller, its president and chief executive. This banner was similar to the one they received in the days following the Aurora theater shooting, sent to them by the hospital that received victims from the mass shooting at Virginia Tech.
We received letters of support from children at local schools, including Rialto Middle School, Loma Linda Academy and Miss Park's second grade class. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors also recognized our staff, creating a non-public gathering of county employees, families and invited guests, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Each gesture of support came without fanfare. There was no expectation of being publicly acknowledged. No one called a press conference. However, we were so moved by these quiet acts of fraternity and compassion that we wanted to respond to them in the most public way possible.
It will be our responsibility to encourage other medical communities who must deal with what we hope no one will have to experience. But for now, we thank those who extended their hearts and prayers to us and to the San Bernardino community during this time of tremendous loss.
Richard Hart, president of Loma Linda University Health
Kerry Heinrich, chief executive of Loma Linda University Medical Center