The Stony Brook University World Trade Center Health Program is expanding its clinical Center of Excellence to Winthrop-University Hospital which enables care and treatment for thousands more who were exposed to toxic chemicals and who continue to suffer from upper and lower respiratory ailments, mental health symptoms, and other conditions related to the environment at Ground Zero.
With an annual budget of more than $8 million, Stony Brook’s Islandia-based WTC Health Program is a clinical and research program that has been in operation since immediately after 9/11. The program is supported primarily by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an arm of the Centers for Disease Control. The Stony Brook program to date follows more than 6,000 9/11 responders, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and construction workers with an 80 percent retention rate. The Center of Excellence in Islandia cares for more than 3,500 responders, most of whom live or work in Suffolk County. It is also the administrative headquarters for both clinic locations in Suffolk and Nassau counties.
“We have assembled a remarkable team of experts in both the clinical and scientific areas to lead this Clinical Center for Excellence,” says Benjamin J. Luft, M.D., Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor of Medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and Medical Director of Stony Brook’s World Trade Center Health Program. “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 outlying areas of New York City.”
Marc Wilkenfeld, M.D., Chief of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Winthrop, oversees the treatment of patients at the Nassau County clinic located within the Winthrop Wellness Pavilion in Garden City. He also provides referrals to area specialists for patients requiring additional specialized treatment for their WTC-related illnesses. He 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,” said Dr. Wilkenfeld. “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 expansion of Stony Brook’s WTC Health Program to Winthrop-University Hospital enables Dr. Luft and his entire team, which now includes Dr. Wilkenfeld and others, 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 Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “The program will build on its mission to deliver outstanding and compassionate clinical care to so deserving a group of individuals and through research to gain a further understanding of the origin of the health problems experienced by so many Ground Zero responders.”
“I am pleased that Stony Brook University and Winthrop-University Hospital are joining together to serve more Long Island first responders,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Starting today, Winthrop-University Hospital will provide services for the heroes of 9/11 that live right here in Nassau County. I was humbled to stand with these heroes, survivors and families – day after day, week after week, month after month, for almost two years, working together to ensure that Congress fulfilled its undeniable moral obligation to provide the health care our heroes so desperately need. Now our heroes will not have to leave Nassau County to receive the care they need.”
“This expansion will build on the success of Stony Brook’s existing WTC health program to enhance the ongoing monitoring and treatment of this heroic population and provide thousands of Long Island residents with critical access to care that is needed and deserved,” said Congressman Peter King.
“So many Nassau County residents went to Ground Zero as first responders on September 11, and in the days after that there has been a special need for extra help with their health care here,” said Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. “As their representative in Washington and as a nurse, I’m so glad that Stony Brook will be expanding the WTC Health Program to Winthrop in my district. It’s been over 10 years, and the Program is working as hard as ever to ensure the health of our heroes.”
“Taking care of the health of the 9/11 Responders and survivors who are still with us is a moral imperative and an important way to honor the memory of those who we lost,” said Congressman Tim Bishop. “I applaud the expansion of Stony Brook University Medical Center’s World Trade Center Health Program’s clinical Center of Excellence to Winthrop-University Hospital, which will expand access to top-quality care to thousands more of the 9/11 responder community who need it, and enhance our community’s ability to stand behind those who stood up for us.”
“Even ten years after September 11 we don’t yet know the full toll of the attacks. The continuing treatment and evaluation of emergency response and recovery workers is vitally important. I applaud Stony Brook University Medical Center’s continued support for these men and women,” said Congressman Steve Israel.
The Garden City location for the WTC Health Program is open five days a week. The clinic’s comprehensive patient monitoring and treatment services mirror those at the Islandia clinic, which include annual monitoring examinations, physical treatments, mental health services, counseling and social work, and pharmacy benefits.
The clinical suite includes five exam rooms and is currently staffed with two clinicians, one physician and one nurse practitioner. The Center also includes three licensed practicing nurses, two clinical social workers, along with a support staff, all of whom are Stony Brook employees.
Stony Brook’s WTC Health Program has cared for Nassau-County based responders for six years. Dr. Luft expects to hire additional staff at theWinthrop location as the program grows.
Stony Brook’s WTC Health Program 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 entire program, see wtcexams.org.
Winthrop-University Hospital, a major regional academic medical center founded in 1896, offers a full complement of high quality inpatient and out-patient services, making it ideally suited to partner with Stony Brook in this initiative. Winthrop offers sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic care in virtually every specialty and subspecialty of medicine and surgery, and the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Winthrop is helping victims of 9/11 to identify and address the various health issues that can be caused by exposure to harmful substances. The Hospital’s mission is shaped by the guiding principle that “Your Health Means Everything,” a concept that resonates more strongly than ever in the years since 9/11. For more information about Winthrop-University Hospital call 1-866-WINTHROP or visit winthrop.org.