Healing From Tragedy
|Attending Physician Ambulatory Care/WTC Healthcare Center Dr. Stephanie Lau examining a patient
When Bellevue Hospital’s new WTC Environmental Health Center officially opened its doors on February 13, residents, workers and visitors who have experienced health issues related to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, started getting even better access to care.
“People have a number of health issues that may be related to exposure to the dust from the World Trade Center – sinus or breathing problems, and sometimes stomach complaints,” said Dr. Joan Reibman, a pulmonary specialist who directs the program. “Others continue to have sadness, depression or anxiety as a result of the event. They need help and we’re here to provide treatment for conditions related to the WTC disaster.”
Treatment has been available for workers and volunteers who were involved in the cleanup through a number of programs, but the Bellevue program is reaching out further to help residents, office workers, students and others who were simply in the area and evacuated on that fateful day. Bellevue provides care to patients, regardless of their immigration status. And for patients who speak little or no English, Bellevue’s expert language interpretation services assure good communication with doctors during their treatment.
The WTC Environmental Health Center is an expansion of Bellevue’s WTC Health Impacts Treatment Program that was created in September of 2005 and was funded by the American Red Cross Liberty Disaster Relief Fund. The program treated over 900 patients who were uninsured and did not qualify for treatment in other programs. The new program expects to treat approximately 6,000 people.
“The City of New York is providing $16 million in new funds over the next five years to allow Bellevue to dramatically expand outreach, comprehensive medical and mental health screening, evaluation, and treatment services to thousands of New Yorkers,” said HHC President Alan D. Aviles. “Anyone exposed to the WTC site and experiencing health problems as a result will have access to highly expert assessment and treatment services at little or no cost.”
The program is coordinating its outreach with Beyond Ground Zero and other community-base organizations. For information about assessment or treatment, New Yorkers can call (212) 562-1720.