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THE NEWSLETTER OF THE BUREAU OF HEALTH SERVICES • COUNSELING SERVICES UNIT • FDNY
Vol.1 • No. 1 • October 2002

CONNECTIONS NEWSLETTER 

We would like to welcome all FDNY members to the "Connections" newsletter. Our collaborative efforts have been centered about the health and well being of our membership. Connections allows us to communicate about the important health issues that face our Department.

The last year has brought tremendous changes to the FDNY . Both BHS and CSU recognized that programs needed to be developed to meet the physical and emotional challenges of the events
of 9/11. We successfully fought to obtain federal funding for post exposure medicals and for expanded counseling services. BHS continues to seek additional funding for follow up that would
include exposed members who are now retired. CSU has already secured funding to provide counseling assistance to retired members.

Health concerns remain important to all of us as we continue to rebuild. We hope to use this newsletter to keep you informed of important issues that affect our health. Together, we can continue our team effort.


In order to keep you better informed, we will provide a comprehensive list of new programs and initiatives in future issues of Connections. Listed below are several key initiatives today.

What's New at BHS - WTC Medical Follow Up

Collapse Survivor's Group

Communication and Services of CSU

CSU Locations

What's New at BHS - WTC MEDICAL FOLLOW UP

BHS completed 10,500 WTC Medicals in 3 months. All results have been sent to each member. If you have not received your package of results, please call Ms. Patsy Mason at 718-999-1878. The FDNY-BHS WTC Medical, done with federal funding from the Centers for Disease Control, has been the most comprehensive post-exposure medical performed by any workforce or medical institution. In fact, our medical has been used as a model for the medical currently offered at Mt. Sinai to non-FDNY employees.

We provided rapid and more extensive testing than outside facilities, maintained medical confidentiality and provided you with diagnostic evaluation and treatment, by providing this medical through BHS.

WTC Medical Package: You received a letter summarizing the results of the entire job (using groups’ data without identifying individuals). This was done to allow all members to understand our findings post-WTC. As part of your WTC Medical Package, you received a new report summarizing your current hearing and breathing tests with comparisons to your prior tests. We will continue this practice at your future medicals. This upgrade is a major health improvement.

The WTC Medical and other related activities were used to publish results in the most prestigious medical journals, evidence that FDNY 1st Responders were exposed and affected by WTC. Again, this was done using group data without identifying individuals. Only by allowing prestigious medical journals to review and publish our results can we assure that your issues are
taken seriously and that external funding continues to be available. To view some of these
articles, please go on-line at www.cdc.gov and www.nejm.org.

Follow-up Post-WTC annual medicals are now being provided to all members as part of your regularly scheduled annual. If you did not have your first WTC Medical and would like one, BHS would be happy to accommodate you at your scheduled Annual Medical appearance in the next 15 months. Please request a WTC Medical rather than a WTC follow-up medical when you report to
the Annual Medical Reception Desk.

RETIRED members who were on active duty and exposed to WTC are eligible for a WTC Medical or WTC-Follow-up Medical. This can be arranged by appointment anytime over the next 12 months. Please call 718-999-1938 to schedule an appointment. This is being funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control.

BHS is continuing with several research projects involving respiratory and mental health issues through various affiliations with outside experts and medical institutions. We thank those of you who have already enrolled in our projects and hope to offer additional opportunities to you and others in the near future. Enrollment in a research project sponsored by BHS assures you that Drs. Kelly and Prezant have screened the project. They have made certain that it will provide important services / information to you at no risk or cost; and that it will benefit all FDNY 1 st Responders. You can also be assured that strict medical confidentiality will be maintained.

BHS has developed a mental health questionnaire to better understand your needs and the services you wish provided to you and your families with an outside panel of nationally recognized mental health experts (with vast experience dealing with Oklahoma and Gulf-War mental health issues). A special research confidentiality certificate has nearly been completed and we will then be distributing this survey during regular working hours.

An on-line CD73 Exposure form designed by BHS, Safety and FDNY’s Computer Information Technology Group will soon be in your firehouse computer. This was designed with close cooperation with the UFOA and UFA. A final update is scheduled and then one form will be automatically entered in every member’s record. You may then make amendments to this record to reflect your individual exposure issues. Delays are due to BHS wishing to include input from the newly elected UFA leadership on this important matter. After we receive this input, we expect to be on-line within 2 months.

Retirement Disability. BHS is responsible for the BHS board ( 3 Physician Board / Full Board ). This board brings together important information concerning your duty status following an injury or illness. If you wish to be considered for retirement disability, the next step is to go before the 1B retirement board. Although BHS can help you with several of these issues, specific questions concerning the 1B board should be discussed with your Union trustee or with the 1B board directly.

FDNY Tobacco Free. BHS has received support from the Chest Foundation and Pharmacia to offer a free tobacco cessation program. All FDNY members and their spouses are eligible. This program has an extremely high success rate. We have already treated nearly 500 members with outstanding feedback. For an appointment call 999-1942.

Flu shots are being administered at the Annual Medical appearance and at every BHS clinic appearance. Members with a cold are asked not to accept a flu shot. BHS will be sending a Mobile Medical unit to each Division in the coming weeks to accommodate those members who report to the Annual Medical later than the flu season immunization window. Remember that you cannot get the flu from the flu shot, but it can prevent illness this winter season.

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COLLAPSE SURVIVOR’S GROUP

BHS/CSU is pleased to announce that it is forming a new group for Collapse Survivors. All are welcome. Beginning Thursday, October 31, 2002 - Continuing for 10 weeks
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM    251 Lafayette Street, New York

If interested, please contact Amy or Ashley at 212-570-1693 for a pre-group appointment.

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COMMUNICATION AND SERVICES OF CSU

The clinical and administrative staff of CSU has reached out to members of the Department and their families since 9/11. These outreaches have included visits to the workplace, direct treatment for members and families, educational opportunities and treatment with mental health professionals in private practice.

  • 3,850 members have received professional counseling services at one of eight CSU locations.These sites were developed after 9/11 to supplement our preexisting unit at Lafayette St.
  • Our veteran staff of professionals has been augmented with additional staff hired through Project Liberty. These dedicated professionals continue to offer both group and individual counseling.
  • Members can access services and remain on full duty. Family members, spouses and children are eligible for services. Retirees are encouraged to continue with services.
  • 180 plus members of bereaved families have received professional counseling services.
  • Members can see clinicians in their private offices. CSU will be happy to make referrals.
  • 21,500 plus visits have been made to the workplace by 30 plus peer counselors. Initially IAFF peer counselors supplemented our ranks, but over the last year additional peers have been trained with funding through the NFFF. The need for continued training of additional peers remains. We have sent letters to all recent retirees requesting their involvement.
  • 10,166 members have participated in an educational program at the WTC medical.
  • 5,400 members have participated in a counseling education program at the Division of Training.
  • 180 plus spouses and significant others have participated in interactive programs conducted by staff of The Other Side of the Firehouse.
  • 172 people have participated in Couple Connection programs provided by CSU.
  • 80 families of the Family Liaisons have participated in two weekends geared at helping these families reconnect through interactive groups and recreation.
  • Firehouse clinicians have been assigned to specific FDNY work locations so that these clinicians can educate members, establish trust with the members and facilitate professional mental health referrals.
  • 13 specialized bereavement and specialized groups have been been established including Brothers of Brothers and WTC survivor groups.
  • 3 childhood treatment programs are available to provide assessments, guidance and treatment to active families and children of bereaved families. These are:
    • Columbia’s Family Assessment and Guidance Program
      Dr. Grace Christ at 212 854 0698
    • NY Hospital Weil Cornell Medical Center
      Dr. Cynthia Pfeiffer at 914 997 5849
    • NYU ‘S Child Study Center
      Dr. Robin Goodman at 212 263
      8401 or visit www. AboutOurKids.org.

    Funding has been provided by the FDNY, Project Liberty, IAFF, NFFF, Morgan Stanley, United Way, The NY Times Foundation, The Ittlesan Foundation, SAMHSA.

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CSU LOCATIONS

FDNY Counseling Service Unit (CSU) provides services to personnel and to family members of deceased and active Fire Fighters, EMTs and Paramedics.

Appointments for individual, couples, family, and phone counseling are available Monday-Friday 8am – 6pm and Saturday 10am-4pm. The CSU also provides referrals to other areas.

Manhattan
251 Lafayette St., 3rd Floor
New York, NY
(212) 570 – 1693

Staten Island
1688 Victory Blvd.
Staten Island, NY
(718) 815-4111

Queens
Fort Totten
Building 413A
Bayside, NY
(718) 352 – 2140

Brentwood, Suffolk County
NY Fire Department
Counseling Services
Center Cottage-Suffolk County
Community College
Crooked Hill Road
Brentwood NY 11717
(631) 851-6888

Orange County
2279 Goshen Turnpike
Middletown, NY
(845) 695-1029

Putnam, Rockland County
(845) 695-1029

FDNY Bureau of Health Services
9 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201
251 Lafayette Street, NY

For information on groups or upcoming events please call (212) 570-1693.

Dr. Kerry Kelly
Chief Medical Officer

Dr. David Prezant
Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Malachy Corrigan
Director, FDNY CSU

Mary T. McLaughlin
Director, FDNY BHS

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