"After 9/11, I worked downtown cleaning up the dust in offices. I still cough," declares a clean-up worker. "I was so scared. And now I still get nightmares," says a teenage girl. "I have headaches and sinus congestion that are not going away," complains the Chinatown restaurant owner.
These are the personal stories, the voices and the common symptoms represented in a new $5 million advertising and grass roots marketing campaign announced by Mayor Bloomberg and HHC President Alan Aviles this month to promote the services of HHC's WTC Environmental Health Center at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, Elmhurst Hospital in Queens and Gouverneur Healthcare Services in Lower Manhattan.
"We have answered the call for help from those who have suffered health problems as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We're helping people heal, both physically and emotionally and we will continue to reach out to those in need."
Using composites of real patients, the city-wide campaign features TV, print, radio and subway ads that urge the public to seek care for 9/11 physical or emotional health problems with its tagline: "Lived there? Worked there? You deserve care."
As part of the campaign, community organizations received grants totaling $2.1 million to bring the message to hard-to-reach groups and improve access to care through educational forums, health fairs, and patient navigation. The ads and all the promotional materials are available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Polish.
"We hope this campaign will resonate deeply with those potentially affected – families who lived and stayed in the downtown homes, young people who went to school in the area, local business owners who kept their shops open, local office workers from many parts of the city and the region, clean-up workers who cleared dust from the nearby offices and those who still struggle with the psychological and emotional trauma of losing a loved one or witnessing the horrific devastation," said Aviles.
The WTC Environmental Health Center currently serves 2,800 patients at its three locations and, thanks to funding from the city, has a capacity to serve thousands more in the years to come.
To reach the WTC Environmental Health Center, the public can call 877-WTC-0107 or dial 311. Visit nyc.gov/hhc to view the ads or to learn more about the WTC center program.