New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Health and Hospitals Corporation President Alan Aviles today said that the new sites, at Gouverneur Healthcare Services in Lower Manhattan and Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, will allow the WTC Environmental Health Center to treat up to 20,000 patients over the next five years.
Under the direction of the program at Bellevue, the two new sites will treat those experiencing health problems as a result of exposure to dust and smoke from the World Trade Center attack
Expanding the Bellevue Hospital program was one of the key recommendations made in Addressing the Health Impacts of 9/11, the report and recommendations Mayor Bloomberg accepted in February.
Another key recommendation made in the report was to aggressively seek federal funding to sustain the World Trade Center program at Bellevue and two other 9/11 Health Centers of Excellence, and expand 9/11 related mental health services and medical research.
The Mayor continued his call for federal funding at today's announcement and together with Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta launched a new six-year assessment of World Trade Center health impacts on 9/11 rescue workers.
'The City is stepping up to the plate to make sure that everyone gets the health care they need - despite this clearly being a national responsibility,' said Mayor Bloomberg.
'There is much about World Trade Center health effects that we still don't know, but one thing we do know is that 9/11 was an act of war against our entire country and the federal government must take responsibility for everyone whose health was harmed and pass the James Zadroga Act.
The bill is named after an New York Police Department detective who had spent hundreds of hours at Ground Zero, and later died at the age of 34 from respiratory failure. If adopted into law, it would provide the federal funding needed to care for those who are sick, or who may become sick.
The bill would also continue research that will help to better understand the health impacts of the attacks, and it would re-open the Victim's Compensation Fund to better help those who continue to struggle with the aftermath of 9/11.
On Tuesday, Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Health Subcommittee in support of the Zadroga Act.
'The James Zadroga Act reopens the Victim Compensation Fund, a key recommendation of the 9/11 Health Panel,' said Mayor Bloomberg. 'That Fund was a fair and efficient process that provided a measure of relief to victims' families, now it is imperative that the Fund be reauthorized to take care of those who were not eligible to benefit from it before it closed in December 2003. The fact that their injuries and illnesses have been slower to emerge should not disqualify them from getting the help they need.'
The bill would provide funding for the WTC Environmental Health Center at Bellevue Hospital, including the two expansion sites announced today. The bill would also provide sustained support for the two other Centers of Excellence that are treating those impacted by 9/11, the FDNY World Trade Center program and the WTC Monitoring and Treatment program coordinated by Mt. Sinai.
'I met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the attacks, and she stated her support for addressing these urgent and unmet health needs,' Mayor Bloomberg said.
'Our nation has a moral obligation to extend health monitoring to everyone exposed to Ground Zero toxins and treatment to anyone who's sick, whether they're a first responder, a Lower Manhattan resident, an area worker, or a student at a nearby school,' said Representative Carolyn Maloney. 'I am incredibly grateful for Mayor Bloomberg's leadership in creating and expanding the World Trade Center Program, which has been a crucial source of help for thousands of New Yorkers who were sickened or injured by the terrorist attacks on our country.'