Victims Injured In Bronx Lebanon Hospital Shooting Recovering As Doctors, Nurses Speak Out

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A doctor who was shot in the neck when a gunman opened fire at Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center last week was released on Monday, hospital officials said.

Surrounded by flowers and co-workers, Dr. Olawafunmike Ojewoye left the hospital just three days after she was struck in the neck by a bullet fired by a deranged gunman.

Physician in Chief Dr. Zid Sridhar Chilimuri said the doctor who was shot in the neck has “made a remarkable recovery.”

“Timely action is what saved lives that day,” Chilimuri said. “Many of our victims had horrendous injuries from assault weapons at a close range, but the team that worked on them kept all of them alive.”

Speaking at a news conference, officials said three of the remaining patients at the hospital are now in stable condition.

Other staffers who survived the shooting still can’t believe what happened.

Police say that the gunman, Henry Bello, was roaming the hallways of Bronx Lebanon Hospital with a rifle he bought legally in Schenectady, New York concealed in a white lab coat looking for one doctor in particular in an act of revenge.

“Walking in this morning brought back memories, flashbacks,” operating room nurse manager Petagay Brooks said.

Bello, a former hospital employee, was forced to resign in February 2015 amid sexual harassment complaints and reports of combative behavior.

During his rampage, Bello shot seven people before turning the gun on himself. Nurses and doctors did their best to hide all the while protecting their patients.

“I had to stay with her, keep her calm,” said nurse Donna LeePeterkin. “We’re in this together.”

Dr. Tracy Tam was killed instantly. She could not have been an intended target, having never worked with Bello before. Tam started her job at the hospital just a few months ago.

“We really love Dr. Tam,” Chilimuri said. “Her loss is just impossible for us to fathom.”

Tam, 32, was not supposed to be working on Friday and was filling in for a friend’s shift — an act that friends say was not uncommon. She was known for both her dedication and her compassion.

“She was always there to help, support, fill in the blanks if you missed something,” former co-worker Shailee Udani said.  “It was a team effort always with her.”

Former co-workers at Hackensack University Medical Center Palisades, where Tam completed her residency, say that selflessness extended to her patients.

“Tracy would stay past her shift just to hold hands of a patient that needed comforting, to be there with a patient who may have been about to pass,” said former co-worker Jason Rugel. “She really had a compassionate, kind heart and she really did empathize with every patient that she came across.”

During the chaos Friday, doctors and nurses suddenly had to treat their own wounded coworkers while there was possibly still an active shooter roaming the halls.

Recovery room nurse manager Mark Burgess says knowing the victims made a tough job even tougher.

“You see some staff crying because they know the staff you’re working on and they still have to check their emotions and try to distance themselves emotionally and just carry on,” he told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare.

Chilimuri says despite the heroic efforts under fire, the hospital is still in mourning.

“Yes, we have success and saving lives but it is still a loss, either one person dying as capable as she is is a humongous loss for us,” he said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for her family. Tam was helping to support her mother, father and sister financially. A vigil will be held at the hospital Thursday in her honor.

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