|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2006
Remarks by Alan D. Aviles
President, NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation
Press conference to announce Citywide Effort to Address 9/11 World Trade Center Health-Related Issues
“The Health and Hospitals Corporation, New York City's public hospital system, is proud to be an integral part of the city's plans to further assist New Yorkers experiencing World Trade Center-related health conditions through the creation of a new and highly specialized Environmental Health Center at Bellevue Hospital.
“I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for once again demonstrating his confidence in, and support of, our city's public hospital system and for making the funds available to launch this center.
“The $16 million in new funds over the next 5 years will allow Bellevue to dramatically expand outreach, comprehensive medical and mental health screening, evaluation, and treatment services to thousands of New Yorkers who have symptoms and who experienced exposure to environmental contaminants and/or the intense psychological stressors related to the WTC disaster.
“Over the course of the last few years, several of Bellevue's physicians have developed deep experience in assessing and treating WTC-related illness. I particularly want to acknowledge Dr. Joan Reibman, who is an attending physician at Bellevue and a faculty member of the NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Reibman is a pulmonary specialist who began treating workers and residents with WTC-related illness almost immediately after 9/11. Having published one of the earliest research papers on the initial ground zero-related health impacts, Dr. Reibman helped establish and then direct Bellevue's WTC Health Impacts Treatment Program. That program, initiated one year ago, has worked closely with community-based organizations to identify, assess and treat several hundred affected Lower East Side residents, day laborers, and other clean-up workers, including many non-English speaking immigrants.
“The new WTC Environmental Health Center at Bellevue Hospital will be run by Dr. Reibman and will continue this important work, but with a much broader focus, a dedicated space and greatly enhanced resources. Any New Yorker exposed to the WTC site and experiencing health problems as a result will have access to highly expert assessment and treatment services at no out-of-pocket cost.
“In addition to its clinical collaboration with the NYU School of Medicine, our new center at Bellevue will continue to partner with the Beyond Ground Zero Network and other concerned community-based organizations -- who have been instrumental in identifying and linking affected patients to care, particularly low income and uninsured New Yorkers. And we will work with our partners in City government, especially the NYCDOHMH, to ensure that these newly available services are widely publicized to those known to have been in proximity to 9/11 disaster and its aftermath.
“HHC expects to have the new center operational by January 2007 and we will ramp up the resources steadily thereafter to assure that we have sufficient capacity to render services to all those affected by 9/11 who need those services.”
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The Health and Hospitals Corporation, the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country, is a $4.5 billion public benefit corporation that serves 1.3 million New Yorkers and nearly 450,000 who have no health insurance. HHC provides medical and mental health services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and nearly 100 community based clinics. For more information about HHC, visit www.nyc.gov/hhc.