“That night,” Nathan Orozco said, “was my first night at Pulse.”
It was June 12, 2016. It was Latin night. Orozco was 19 years old. A gunman opened fire in the Orlando, Florida nightclub, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Standing at the podium in the Thier Conference Room, Orozco struggled to finish his story. “I want to thank the hospital, the police officers, everyone who helped us and who is still helping us live a better future,” he said, before his emotions proved to be too overpowering and he couldn’t continue.
Fellow survivor Orlando Torres was soon at Orozco’s side to comfort him. “No one deserves this at all,” he said. “But he knows – we all know – we have each other. It’s just hard.”
Orozco and Torres were two of 24 survivors who came to the MGH June 8 for a discussion about gun violence, hosted by the MGH LGBT Employee Resource Group. They are part of an “awful, painful club that no one wants to be a part of,” said Chana Sacks, MD, an attending physician in the Department of Medicine.
She too is a member.
Sacks shared that her cousin’s 7-year-old son, Daniel Barden, was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut four years ago. Sacks said the family tragedy – paired with the cases she sees as a physician – prompted her to help create the MGH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition. Formed in 2015, the group’s members come from departments hospitalwide and they aim to tackle the issue of gun violence as a public health epidemic and social justice issue, and have developed resources to help clinicians discuss firearm safety with patients.
“Firearm injuries are responsible for 33,000 deaths a year,” she said. “We thought about how we can take our individual passions and intensity and really make a difference in this space. And, the truth is, the numbers only say so much, because as I look around this room, I think it’s clear. This is about people whose lives have been changed. We can work together to do better and to prevent so many other families from going through this.”
The Stand Out Design for #StrongerTogether’
Employees with graphic design experience from all four organizations—the MGH and BWH LGBT Employee Resource Groups, McLean Hospital and Partners—were challenged to a t-shirt design contest for Pride Week 2017 working with the theme #StrongerTogether. Mario Rodas, MGH LGBT Employee Resource Group chair, explained that “every year the Boston Pride organization comes up with a theme for Boston Pride. This year the theme is ‘Stronger Together.’ It really is up to organizations participating to adapt to the theme.”
The committee, comprised of individuals from all four organizations, “received 20 total submissions that came from all four different entities.” Brahim Bouirabdane, of MGH Pathology won for his colorful and stand-out design and walked away with bragging rights and a gift card to an MGH cafeteria.
When asked about his design, Bouirabdane said, “I thought I would use the LGBT letters in colors of the rainbow and fuse them together to show unity. The four healthcare workers having fun waving the pride flag on top of the letters represents the four organizations participating in the event.”
Bouirabdane explained that he chose to enter the contest because he saw the opportunity to contribute something to the MGH community. Bouirabdane accomplished that with his eye catching and simple design that Rodas believes “will stick around a while because it is stylish and stands out well.”
While this is an annual contest for the MGH community, this is the first time it was opened to all four organizations. This was the 10th year the MGH participated in the Boston Pride Parade, but for the first time they marched with the three other institutions. This, Rodas said, “is a very fitting tribute to this year’s theme. We thought that our efforts together would be stronger, therefore, #StrongerTogether.”
Read more articles from the 06/23/17 Hotline issue.