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Saint Francis Health System tries to cope after the deadly shooting in a campus medical building

Blog | Leadership

Saint Francis Health System tries to cope after the deadly shooting in a campus medical building

The organization said it is offering various services to employees and has established a donation fund after the shooting that took the lives of four people.

Saint Francis Health System is working to help employees and families who were affected by the June 1 shooting that killed four people in an orthopedics clinic on the organization’s flagship campus.

Two orthopedic surgeons, an office employee and a visitor were killed in the shooting late Wednesday afternoon in Tulsa. There also were “several” injuries, none of which were considered life-threatening, police said.

After the shooting, Saint Francis announced that the orthopedics offices would be closed for the rest of the week to “allow our staff and caregivers the opportunity to process today’s tragic incidents.” Outpatient services at certain other sites were canceled through the morning of June 2.

The health system said Thursday it is offering “services, counseling, pastoral care, pet therapy, EAP services and more to members of our family who need help coping with and processing the tragedies that occurred yesterday.”

A donation fund also was established. “Funds will be used to support the victims’ families and employees affected by this incomprehensible incident,” according to a posting on the website of the Tulsa Community Foundation. The health system noted it was not soliciting donations but knew that many people were asking how they could help.

“There will obviously be many questions, and there will be a bumpy road, I think, ahead of us,” Cliff Robertson, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the health system, told reporters during a news conference Wednesday evening. “But there are over 10,000 people that are part of the Saint Francis Health System that every day commit their lives to taking care of people in need — taking care of everyone in need — and this senseless, horrible, incomprehensible act is not going to change that.”

Said Ryan Elizabeth Parker, MD, an emergency department physician and associate chief medical officer at Saint Francis, “We are supposed to be the ones that are caring for others during tragedies like this. To think that our caregivers were the victims is just incomprehensible to me. They died while serving others. They died in the line of duty.”  

Saint Francis Health System describes itself as the largest private employer in Tulsa County with 10,000 employees, 1,000 physicians and 700 volunteers. The main hospital campus also includes a children’s hospital, heart hospital, and trauma and emergency center. The shooting took place in a building that houses various outpatient services, including orthopedics.

In a news conference, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum called the campus “sacred ground for our community.”

“I know there are so many people out there right now who want to know what you can do to support the people at Saint Francis Health System in the midst of this tragedy,” Bynum said. “I don't have one thing for you right now. I would ask for you to think about what the Saint Francis Health System and the people that work there mean to our community, what they mean to you and your family and your neighbors. Think about what they mean to you and think about, in your own way, what you can do to show your support for them.”

The shooting happened eight days after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and 18 days after the shooting deaths of 10 people in a supermarket in Buffalo. The school shooting prompted healthcare industry leaders to speak out about the need for solutions to address gun violence as a public health issue.

About the Author

Nick Hut

is a senior editor with HFMA, Westchester, Ill. (nhut@hfma.org).

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