HHC Urges People Suffering from Health Effects of 9/11 to Seek Care
A decade later, WTC Environmental Health Center continues to evaluate and treat victims of the tragedy
Apr 18, 2014
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is urging people who were living, working or going to school in Lower Manhattan on 9/11 and in the months that followed to seek medical care if they believe they may have a health problem related to the disaster.
The HHC WTC Environmental Health Center assesses and treats WTC-related medical and mental illness in adults and children. More than 5,000 patients have received health services at the WTC clinic locations at Bellevue Hospital Center and Gouverneur Healthcare Services in Manhattan, and Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens.
“Ten years later, children and adults are developing symptoms or have illnesses that may be connected to 9/11 and have gone undiagnosed,” said Dr. Elizabeth Fiorino, a pediatric pulmonologist in the Bellevue clinic. Doctors said they see patients suffering from respiratory ailments such as asthma and mental health issues including post traumatic stress disorder.
“We see patients with persistent symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, stomach problems, skin problems, depression, anxiety and nervousness,” Dr. Fiorino said. The exposure to 9/11 could have been direct or indirect, especially in children whose parents were first responders or who worked clearing away debris and came home covered in 9/11 dust.
Under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Law, which will take effect on July 1, federal funding will be available for the next five years through a reimbursement system that will cover 9/11-related health services.
Doctors at the WTC clinic are specialists and sub-specialists who work with patients’ primary care physicians. If a patient doesn’t have a primary care doctor, HHC will connect them to one. Treatment and medications for WTC-related illness are available with no out of pocket costs to patients.
Anyone who believes they or someone in their family might have a health problem related to 9/11 may call toll free at 1-877-WTC-0107 (1-877-982-0107). When you call, you will reach a person who will ask a few questions about your health problems to see if the program is right for you. If you do not speak English, you will be able to speak with someone in your language. Information is also available on the HHC website, www.nychhc.org/hhc or by calling 311.
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $6.7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system with its own 420,000 member health plan, MetroPlusHealth, and is the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country. HHC serves 1.4 million New Yorkers every year and more than 475,000 are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, five skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 70 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission’s John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. For more information, visit www.nychhc.org/hhc or find us on facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or twitter.com/NYCHealthSystem.