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Broward Health ER Director: 'We Drill For This'

Dr. Benny Menendez, medical director for Broward Health's emergency department, briefs reporters Wednesday evening on the condition of patients from the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Jessica Bakeman
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Broward Health Medical Center received seven patients after Wednesday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. They were all kids.

Two went into surgery Wednesday night. One was discharged Thursday morning. And all six of the remaining patients were listed in fair condition Thursday.

“Today we feel a lot better than yesterday,” said Dr. Benny Menendez, medical director for Broward Health's emergency department. For all six remaining patients “we are very optimistic that the prognoses are going to be good. There’s one of them that they might need some physical therapy. But the prognosis, I think, is very good.”

Menendez said none of them are facing amputations or potential paralysis.

He said the hospital’s ER was “doing the usual thing that we do in the ER” when they heard about the shooting Wednesday afternoon.

“We had plenty of surgeons. We had plenty of emergency physicians, staff nurses, techs, therapists,” he said. “We drill for this. Unfortunately, sometimes the drills come through. And that’s what we do.”

It was the second time in a little more than a year that Broward Health received patients from a mass shooting. The Level One trauma center also received the victims from the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting in January 2017. Five people died in that shooting, and another six were injured by gunfire.

The oldest patient sent to Broward Health was 17. Menendez said it’s hard to see young people who have been shot.

“But at that moment, you superimpose those feelings and you do what we’re trained to do,” he said.

Now the hospital is focused on staying ready and making sure the victims from Wednesday’s shooting get the care they need, including mental health care, he said.

“We are a Level One trauma center. We need to continue to do this,” he said. “We hope that we don’t see this again. But it can happen.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott was at the hospital Thursday visiting the gunshot victims.

“They told me their stories of what happened to them. You just hope this never happens again,” he said.

He said the patients were appreciative of the care they’d received, even as they are mourning friends who were killed.

“They’re all young people and they’re very optimistic and they feel blessed to be alive,” he said. “They’ve lost some of their friends. They’re sad about that. In my case, I’m mad. I’m mad that this happens.”

Scott said he plans to gather state leaders next week and “we’re going to figure out what we can do to have an impact on school safety and making sure that somebody that has mental illness does not have access to a gun.”

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Sammy Mack
Public radio. Public health. Public policy.