First Responders to Receive Medical and Social Work Services for 9/11 Problems

An estimated 15,000 people who responded to the scene of the World Trade Center collapse will receive medical and social work services over the next 2 years for health problems related to the disaster through September 11 recovery grants totaling more than $16 million from the American Red Cross Liberty Disaster Relief Fund.

The Fire Department of New York City and the Mount Sinai Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine are among seven organizations that were awarded recovery grants to enhance existing government-funded programs that screen and monitor World Trade Center responders but do not cover their treatment costs. They reflect the Red Cross's strategic, short-term support for public and private sector efforts to address the needs of the people who were most seriously affected by the events of September 11.

"The American Red Cross is coming to the aid of thousands of people who risked their lives and health to help New York recover from the World Trade Center collapse," stated Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) during a press conference to announce the grants at the Greater New York Chapter of the Red Cross. "Without the support of the grants being announced today, many of these individuals could not afford the diagnostic tests and medications they now need for a variety of health conditions related to their heroic efforts at ground zero. These grants will also provide them with help in applying for publicly funded entitlement programs and accessing other community-based resources that can hopefully assist them with their recovery over the long term."

Uniformed and non-uniformed workers and volunteers who participated in the arduous recovery and reconstruction effort at ground zero are the primary beneficiaries of the Red Cross September 11 recovery grants that were announced today. For as long as 9 months, they were exposed to a mix of dust debris, smoke and chemicals. Many are under-insured or uninsured individuals who suffer from a variety of symptoms, including difficulty breathing, gastrointestinal problems and debilitating back pain. These temporary grants will help pay for the additional diagnostic tests and medications currently not covered by the federal government as well as provide funding for ancillary services, including programs that will assist them in applying for workers' compensation and disability.

The grants are part of nearly $90 million that the American Red Cross September 11 Recovery Program (SRP) projects it will award to established, non-profit organizations from now until 2007. These September 11 recovery grants will bolster the provision of services in communities that were the most directly affected by the terrorist attacks, and are a critical element of SRP's sunsetting strategy.

"Since the terrorist attacks the Red Cross has been serving the victims of September 11 with a combination of direct financial assistance and case management to help them achieve self-sufficiency," said Alan Goodman, SRP executive director. "Our recovery grants program now allows us to use the balance remaining in the Liberty Disaster Relief Fund to support non-profit institutions and community-based organizations that can address the longer- term mental and physical health needs of these individuals through a broader range of services than the Red Cross is chartered or equipped to provide."

The $5 million grant to the FDNY Fire Safety Education Fund will ensure that both active and retired members of the Fire Department continue to receive long-term medical care and support in the aftermath of September 11, according to Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. "Those individuals who selflessly dedicated themselves to the rescue and recovery work at the World Trade Center deserve access to the best medical care and monitoring. Without this grant and the support of the Red Cross, we would not have the financial resources for this undertaking."

Robin Herbert, M.D., co-director of Mount Sinai Center's World Trade Center Health Effects Treatment Program said that working in partnership with the Red Cross, his program already has provided over 6,300 medical and social support services, aiding well over 1,200 workers and volunteers. Thousands more continue to face serious medical conditions, including life-long illnesses. Our patients and all of us here at the Center are so grateful for the lifeline afforded by this grant."

The FDNY and Mount Sinai programs will serve individuals predominantly in New York and New Jersey. A grant to the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC) will make screening and treatment for September 11-related health problems available to 500 workers and volunteers from around the country who responded to the World Trade Center site. AOEC anticipates that its clinics in Irvine, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Tampa, Fla.; Chicago, Ill.; Waltham, Mass.; Baltimore, Md.; Albany, N.Y.; Rochester, N.Y.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Lorain, Ohio will serve the greatest number of responders.

The temporary funding for all seven organizations will be provided over 2 years to ensure smooth continuity of services. It covers the cost of strategies to enroll and retain the targeted individuals in appropriate treatment programs, and to assist them in accessing other critical support services, including publicly funded insurance, private charitable assistance and transportation. It also ensures the development and dissemination of clinical guidelines to health care providers who will screen other people with similar conditions, including residents of lower Manhattan.

To date, 100 organizations in seven states have been awarded more than $45 million in September 11 recovery grants from the American Red Cross Liberty Disaster Relief Fund for programs that fall into five broad categories: Access To Recovery Services; Health Diagnosis and Treatment (see attached); Mental Health and Wellness; Strategic Opportunities; and Youth Recovery and Resilience. Funding for a sixth category, Community Recovery in Lower Manhattan, will be announced later this year. For more information on this program, visit .

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