Stony Brook's WTC Medical Monitoring Program Expands Clinical Center Of Excellence And Research Program Into Nassau, Brooklyn
Helps Establish Satellite Locations at SUNY Downstate and Winthrop University
STONY BROOK, N.Y. July 25, 2011—As the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Stony Brook University Medical Center World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program (WTCMMTP) will expand its clinical center of excellence to care for thousands more who were exposed to toxic chemicals and who continue to suffer from upper and lower respiratory tract distress, mental health symptoms, and other conditions related to the environment at ground zero.
In operation since immediately after 9/11, the WTCMMTP is a federally funded program largely supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an arm of the Centers for Disease Control. With an annual budget of more than $8 million, the SBUMC program to date follows 6,000 9/11 responders, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and construction workers with an 80 percent retention rate. This program has grown an average of 17 percent annually.
The Long Island WTCMMTP's role is to provide comprehensive and integrated health care to all eligible WTC responders who are based in Nassau, and Suffolk counties and now, with new NIOSH funding, Kings County.
"We have assembled a remarkable team of experts in both the clinical and scientific areas to lead this Clinical Center for Excellence," said Benjamin J. Luft, M.D., Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor in the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Director of the WTCMMTP and Principal Investigator of the contracts. "The Center allows for the seamless coordination of services, data collection and quality assurance to ensure consistent, high-quality care for all responders who live on Long Island and in Brooklyn."
"This expansion of Stony Brook's WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program enables Dr. Luft and his entire team to reach additional responders in the region suffering from long-term health effects of their work at ground zero," said Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., M.A.C.P., Senior Vice President of the Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine. "We are pleased to be so major a part of understanding the origin of the health problems experienced by so many 9/11 first responders, and to be a major part of delivering outstanding and compassionate clinical care to so deserving a group of individuals."
The new contracts that have been awarded to SBUMC will fund the existent clinical center of excellence in Islandia, N.Y., and establish two satellite locations, one based at Winthrop University Hospital, and a second based at SUNY Downstate Medical Center for the underserved population in Brooklyn.
The Winthrop University Hospital clinical site will assist in ensuring geographic accessibility to medical care for the many WTC responders who reside in Nassau County. It is a welcome complement to the Center of Excellence located in Islandia. According to Marc Wilkenfeld, M.D., Chief of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital, who has been involved with treating Ground Zero responders since immediately after 9/11, "Thousands of Responders from Nassau County participated in the Rescue and Recovery Effort at Ground Zero. Winthrop-University Hospital is extremely pleased to be a partner in The Clinical Center of Excellence and provide care to this deserving population. The NIOSH award and collaboration with Stony Brook will enable Nassau Responders with medical issues to benefit from Winthrop's expertise in Occupational and Environmental Medicine as well as our leading edge specialty physicians and convenient hospital facilities."
The new Brooklyn satellite clinic will be based at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and will address the need for geographic accessibility to medical care for the WTC responders who live in Kings County and have, until now, been an underserved population. "Under the previous WTCMMTP, the residents and responders residing in Brooklyn have not been afforded the necessary components to successful healthcare," said Dr. Luft. "The number of Kings County residents in need of services far exceeds the number involved. Geographic accessibility, as well as comprehensive care, have been the missing ingredients. The establishment of the satellite facility at Downstate will address both issues."
Jack A. DeHovitz, M.D., M.P.H., Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, explained the need for a Brooklyn location, saying, "The WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program does not have clinical sites in Brooklyn. As a result, responders from Brooklyn must travel to sites in other areas, which impacts their utilization of services."
He added, "Brooklyn has the largest population of all of New York City's five boroughs. Outside of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn was most impacted by the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Its close proximity to the disaster site, and the fact that the plume settled over western Brooklyn, affected a large number of individuals in Brooklyn. Yet, fewer than 3,500 residents of Kings County are registered in the WTCMMTP. The number of Kings County residents in need of WTCMMTP services far exceed the number currently involved. Geographic accessibility is the missing ingredient."
Stony Brook's WTCMMTP consists of clinics in Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island, and King's County of Brooklyn. The clinics provide medical monitoring and treatment for all covered WTC-related conditions. More than 20 physical and medical conditions have been identified as related to work at ground zero. Additional Programs are located throughout New York and New Jersey .For more information about the consortium and program, see http://www.wtcexams.org/index.html