NYC Health + Hospitals’ World Trade Center Environmental Health Center commemorates 20th anniversary of 9/11

Photo courtesy of NYC Health + Hospitals

New York City’s Health + Hospitals’ World Trade Center Environmental Health Center commemorated the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with community events at their centers, including at Elmhurst Hospital, on Saturday, Sept. 11.

The centers, which have seen more than 13,000 members at its three clinics in NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue and NYC Health + Hospitals/Gouverneur, provides services at no out-of-pocket cost to 9/11 survivors as defined in the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

“For many people, the horrific attacks on 9/11 occurred 20 years ago, but for those who were in lower Manhattan during and even years after are constantly reminded of that day through their health,” President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals Mitchell Katz said.

The creation of the clinic is intended to combat this issue.

The center employs nearly 100 qualified clinical providers to treat those with conditions resulting from the attacks. Those with health conditions caused by 9/11, even if only adolescents at the time of the attacks, are encouraged to seek membership and receive health care.

Despite the severe impact of COVID-19, the city’s public health system’s clinics continued to provide care to its members and maintained clinic visits through telemedicine and mental health outreach. There has been a 28 percent increase in total patient visits with the majority through telemedicine as the pandemic continued from 2020 into 2021.

Minisa Martin, a current patient at the center, was diagnosed with respiratory disease, GERD, PTSD and asthma in 2019 as a result of the attack. She was a student at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and witnessed the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11.

“As time went by, it became harder to cope. I had trouble breathing and some nights I felt I wouldn’t even wake back up,” Martin said. “My therapist at Elmhurst, Awilda Cortez, has shown me I don’t have to feel alone. She talks to me individually and we also have a group meeting with other patients who have gone through the same things. Being in this program makes me feel so grateful.”

The most common conditions treated through the WTC Environmental Health Center are Obstructive Airway Disease (OAD), Upper Respiratory Disease (URD), Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD), Cancer Treatment and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

NYC Health + Hospitals website states that those who qualify for the treatment at the center are 1) people who lived, worked or went to school or day care in the area of Manhattan that is south of Houston Street or in northwest areas of Brooklyn, between Sept. 11, 2001, and July 31, 2002; 2) anyone who was exposed to the dust cloud on 9/11, or to dust or smoke in the disaster area after 9/11; 3) people who worked as a cleanup worker or performed maintenance work in the disaster area between Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 10, 2002; and 4) workers who assisted in rescue, recovery, clean-up and related support.

For eligibility and enrollment information, individuals can call 888-982-4748 or visit cdc.gov/wtc.

To contact the NYC Health + Hospitals WTC Environmental Health Center clinics, individuals can call 877- 982-0107 or visit the WTC Environmental Health Center webpage.