Palomar Health CEO Statement on T-Shirt Controversy

There has been a lot of misinformation regarding a shirt worn by some of our staff. The intent of this message is to provide the facts and clear up any confusion this has caused.

Above all, Palomar Health exists to provide the best possible care to every patient, visitor and member of the community who comes through our doors. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding the enforcement of our dress code policy has brought unwelcomed negative attention to both a family, who is already dealing with a tragic health situation, and to Palomar Health. We want nothing more than for the spotlight to be on supporting the Byler family, and we want to join in that cause.

I cannot make this any more clear; we fully support our law enforcement officers, and Mr. Byler specifically, which is the intent behind the shirt’s creation. We also support the fundraising campaign to raise awareness for the Byler family. Any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate. We are devastated that this situation has been mischaracterized into something it was not intended to be.

Like many other healthcare providers, we have a uniform policy for staff on duty to protect the healing environment for our patients and visitors. Unfortunately, we have been too relaxed with our enforcement of this policy and recently took steps to enforce it. I’d like to emphasize the dress code policy only applies to staff on duty, not visitors and patients.

Unfortunately, this led to a misunderstanding that has spiraled into something that has people upset and confused about what our organization represents. The accusations made against Palomar Health are not reflective of this organization’s beliefs or policies. This organization stands for unity, respect and compassion. We exist to provide high-quality care to our community, and it hurts to know that some of those who have trusted us with their care would think we stand for anything else. Contrary to some reports, Brett Byler was not a patient in the hospital at the time, and the nurse who helped design the shirt left Palomar Health for completely separate issues.

We have been in contact with the Byler family and are committed to helping in any way we can. We have also been proud partners with our local law enforcement and will continue working together to serve our community.  

I am happy to know that the Byler family has received more than $100,000 in donations to their Go Fund Me page. Our priority is to support them during this time, and I’m pleased the community is showing their support as well. It’s been a difficult and disheartening situation for all involved, yet I’m confident we will move forward together in a positive way.

Diane Hansen
President and CEO of Palomar Health