Volume 17 • Issue 27 | Dec. 03 - Dec. 09, 2004

Grant for W.T.C. worker’s health

The New York Disaster Interfaith Services, a faith-based federation of charitable organizations that provides disaster response and recovery services, recently announced a new grant program to assist W.T.C. recovery workers.

N.Y.D.I.S., along with the Mount Sinai Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, will implement a $53,000, three-month pilot project to provide financial assistance to over 1,300 W.T.C. workers and volunteers, who suffered injuries and chronic health problems because of their work at the site.

“We want to raise the profile of recovery workers at ground zero and bring attention to their situation. While many people have recovered since 9/11, the need in certain communities has deepened,” said Daniel Bush, director of the 9/11 Long-term Recovery and Victim Advocacy program of Interfaith Services.

The $53,000, part of a $375,000 donation to N.Y.D.I.S. from an Episcopal relief organization, will be distributed in the form of vouchers, with $4,800 worth of $4 MetroCards, $24,000 worth of Pathmark food and $23,750 worth of Old Navy clothing. The balance of funding will address other unmet needs of recovery workers.

“A lot of recovery workers are not able to work and support their families because of illnesses. The MetroCards will help them keep their doctors’ appointments — many of them cannot afford to travel to doctors’ offices,” Bush said.

Mount Sinai caseworkers will distribute the vouchers, provided by Pathmark and Old Navy at a generous discount, directly to patients in need, N.Y.D.I.S. says.

“This is a pilot program — it’s a short-term solution. The problems of recovery workers will only get worse over the next 10, 20, 30 years,” Bush said.

Mount Sinai’s “W.T.C. Health Effects Treatment” program offers diagnostic, treatment and advocacy services to W.T.C. workers, many of whom have persistent respiratory, sinus and mental health problems. It is supported in total by private donations, although Bush said they are trying to get money from the federal government to conduct more screenings.

So far, Mount Sinai has screened 12,000 ground zero responders, but there are 40,000 more who need to be screened, Bush said. Of the 1,300 workers who have enrolled in the treatment program, 40 percent lack health insurance and one-third are unemployed, according to N.Y.D.I.S.

W.T.C. workers in need of medical treatment can call 212-241-9059 for further information about Mount Sinai’s treatment program or to arrange for an appointment.

— Divya Watal

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