NYC Health + Hospitals' World Trade Center Environmental Health Center Commemorates 20th Anniversary of 9/11
World Trade Center Environmental Health Center has seen over 13,000 members
The health system's WTC clinics continue to recruit members, including New Yorkers who are now in their 20 and 30's and were children when the attack occurred
Sep 10, 2021
NYC Health + Hospitals’ World Trade Center Environmental Health Center commemorated the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with community events at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue and Elmhurst. The WTC Environmental Health Center has seen more than 13,000 members at its three clinics as of August 2021. The Center provides services at no out-of- pocket costs to residents, students, workers, or passersby eligible for care as survivors under the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Close to 100 clinical providers, such as physicians, therapists, psychiatrists, cancer care managers, and social workers are currently caring for WTC Environmental Health Center members. Enrollment for the WTC Environmental Health Center, a Clinical Center of Excellence with the federal World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program, remains open and eligible for New Yorkers, including those who are now in their 20 and 30s who were children and adolescents when the attacks occurred. They are encouraged to seek membership and receive care for 9/11 related conditions.
“For many people, the horrific attacks on 9/11 occurred 20 years ago, but for those who were in lower Manhattan during and even years after are constantly reminded of that day through their health,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “New Yorkers are fortunate to have dedicated centers, like our World Trade Center Environment Health Center, which specializes in the ailments – physical and psychological – that thousands of survivors, passers-by, and innocent bystanders continue face even decades later.”
“My patients still talk about September 11, 2001 as if it were yesterday, and the sights, sounds, smells of that day and after are still vivid for so many,” said Joan Reibman, MD, NYC Health + Hospitals WTC Environmental Health Center Medical Director. “The World Trade Center Environmental Health Center remains a place for those who were living, working, attending school, or just passing by in the affected area on 9/11. I welcome anyone who may not know about our health services to reach out and enroll through the CDC website or call 1-888-982-4748. The services are provided at no out of pocket cost and are confidential.”
Watch Dr. Joan Reibman reflect on her 20 years of providing care to those affected by 9/11.
NYC Health + Hospitals’ WTC Environmental Health Center has over 13,000 members as of August 2021.
Demographic percentages of members as of December 31, 2020:
- African American 19%
- Asian 14%
- Hispanic 23%
- Native American >1%
- Unknown 3%
- White 41%
- Other >1%
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the city’s public health system’s three WTC clinics continued to provide critical care to members, maintaining clinic visits through telemedicine and mental health outreach. There was a 28 percent increase in total WTC patient visits, the majority through telemedicine as the pandemic continued, from FY 2021 and FY2020.
NYC Health + Hospitals WTC Environmental Health Center operates out of three locations:
- NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue
- NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst
- NYC Health + Hospitals/Gouverneur
Dawn Hazelhurst is a patient at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue’s WTC Environmental Health Center. She was working as an attorney in downtown Manhattan and watched the planes strike the towers and crumble. Dawn was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer with no family history in 2014 and later became a member of the Center in 2019. “I would most definitely recommend the WTC EHC to anyone suffering from 9/11-related health conditions. The program’s staff work with your primary care doctor and oncologist directly to help you and assess your health in the most holistic way. And the social workers in the program truly want to help you get through the horrors of what you’ve seen and what you’ve been through,” said Dawn.
Minisa Martin, a patient at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst’s WTC Environmental Health Center, was diagnosed with respiratory disease, GERD, PTSD, and asthma in 2019. During the attacks, she was a student at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and witnessed the tragedy on 9/11. “I faced all kinds of anxiety in the aftermath—when I hear planes or helicopters for example, and I can’t enter [ground zero] without breathing hard and coming to tears even after all these years,” said Minisa. “As time went by, it became harder to cope. I had trouble breathing and some nights I felt wouldn’t even wake back up. My therapist at Elmhurst, Awilda Cortez, has shown me I don’t have to feel alone. She talks to me individually and we also have a group meeting with other patients who have gone through the same things. Being in this program makes me feel so grateful.”
Most common conditions treated through the WTC Environmental Health Center continue to be:
- Obstructive Airway Disease (OAD)
- Upper Respiratory Disease (URD)
- Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)
- Cancer Treatment
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Who Qualifies for 9/11 health services:
- People who lived, worked, or went to school or day care in the area of Manhattan that is south of Houston Street or in northwest areas of Brooklyn, between September 11, 2001, and July 31, 2002
- Anyone who was exposed to the dust cloud on 9/11, or to dust or smoke in the disaster area after 9/11
- People who worked as a cleanup worker or performed maintenance work in the disaster area between September 11, 2001, and January 10, 2002
- Rescue, recovery, clean-up, and related support workers
The WTC Health Program has multiple Clinical Centers of Excellence throughout the New York metropolitan area to serve both responders and survivors, as well as a Nationwide Provider Network to serve members who live outside the New York metropolitan area.
For eligibility and enrollment of people new to the program, call toll free 1-888-982-4748 or visit www.cdc.gov/wtc. To contact the NYC Health + Hospitals WTC Environmental Health Center clinics, call 877- 982-0107 or visit the WTC Environmental Health Center webpage.