||People with health symptoms related to 9/11 can get medical treatment at the HHC WTC Environmental Health Center.
Kate Wolverton was 4 years old when the attacks on 9/11 drove her and her nanny out of their Battery Park City apartment. She spent hours running away, breathing the dust and watching the chaos.
After years of managing her mental health needs due to severe shock and trauma, her parents, Frederick and Karolyn, sought care at the HHC WTC Environmental Health Center for Kate’s unexplainable recurring pneumonia and growing medical problems.
“I am convinced that the doctors at the WTC center saved Kate’s life,” said Frederick Wolverton. “They diagnosed her problem when no other doctors were able to. And they continued to treat her in ways that surpass the knowledge of other doctors.”
Margrily “Maggie” Garcia, then a healthy woman in her 20s, worked as a paralegal on Broad Street. On 9/11, she also ran through the smoke cloud and soot that quickly covered her body. One week later she was back at work. But she developed a persistent cough that WTC center specialists diagnosed as chronic asthma and sarcoidosis, a type of scarring in organs that is common among firefighters who responded to the WTC disaster.
In Maggie’s case, the sarcoid scarred her heart. She required a pacemaker and two more surgeries. Along with asthma, Maggie will require a lifetime of specialized care, monitoring and treatment.
These are some of the stories members of the U.S. Congress heard when the Wolvertons, Garcia and dozens of HHC patients, staff and community advocates joined the fight for health funding under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act for all survivors of the attacks, including people who lived, worked and went to school in Lower Manhattan.
They testified at public hearings, met privately with members of Congress and their staff, and openly shared the medical and mental health conditions that affect more than 5,000 patients who receive health services at the WTC center clinic locations at Bellevue Hospital Center, Elmhurst Hospital Center and Gouverneur Healthcare Services.
“There was a real possibility that the bill would limit funding to first responders and uniform service members,” said Terry Miles, Director of the HHC WTC Environmental Health Center. “Our patients and community partners played a vital role in the evolution of the bill and its ultimate passage. Their stories of bravery, resilience and continuing healthcare needs sent a strong message to Congress about the importance of extending health benefits equally to the rescuers and survivors.”
The Zadroga law, which will take effect on July 1, 2011, will set aside $1.5 billion over a period of five years to provide medical monitoring and treatment benefits to eligible emergency responders, recovery and cleanup workers, as well as health evaluation, monitoring, and treatment benefits to residents, building occupants and area workers who were affected. HHC’s WTC Environmental Health Center is one of several Centers of Excellence that will now receive guaranteed funding under the new law through a reimbursement system that will cover all services offered by the center – which could exceed $10 million annually.
“We could not have done it without the intense lobbying efforts by Mayor Bloomberg and the City of New York, and the support of our New York delegation, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Schumer, and Representatives Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Peter King,” said Miles.
“We wanted to make sure that Congress never forgets the people who lived, worked and went to school in Lower Manhattan when the terrorists attacked America on 9/11,” said Garcia. “Our lives were changed forever, too.”