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DC37 Reaches Out About WTC Health Program

By Liam Lynch

In true labor-community partnership fashion, the DC 37 Safety and Health Department is using a federal grant to get the word out about the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program established by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. This bill is designed to improve health services and provide financial compensation for 9/11 first responders and survivors. DC 37 is partnering with local businesses and organizations to make the city healthier for the many union members and New Yorkers affected. The poster outreach effort is led by New York Union Semester alum and current Murphy MA student Liam Lynch. Union Semester students will take part in a day of outreach during their orientation at the end of the August. If interested in joining us, stay tuned to the Facebook page.

DC 37’s Safety and Health Department is part of a federal initiative to conduct outreach for the WTC Health Program. When the federal government took over the program after the passage of the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act of 2010, the Safety & Health Department received a federal grant to specifically conduct outreach about the existence of the program to their membership and AFSCME affiliates.

Thirteen years after the attacks of September 11th, the aftermath remains a major public health concern for responders and survivors. AFSCME members, who were among the first responders, are now experiencing illnesses related to their response work and are in need of quality healthcare for their 9/11-related health conditions. In the years after the attack, DC 37 — together with AFSCME’s Federal Government Affairs Department in Washington, DC — helped craft and lobby for the federal health program as part of its efforts to get Congress to approve the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. DC 37 received a federal grant to inform responders and survivors of the health program, and created a website and Facebook page about it.

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The health program provides physical and mental health services to those that were exposed by 9/11 at no-out-of-pocket cost. Responders and Survivors are both eligible for the program. Responders include anyone who was involved in the rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts following 9/11. Survivors include anyone who was SOUTH of HOUSTON ST into Northwest Brooklyn on September 11th through July 2002. This means anyone who lived, worked, went to school/senior centers/community centers in the area may be eligible for the program if they feel they have a 9/11-related condition such as asthma, sleep apnea, anxiety, etc. The program now covers over 50 different types of cancer along with an extensive list of other 9/11 related conditions.

There are 7 clinics in the NYC Metro area, as well as a National program that can treat patients anywhere in the United States. The program will attempt to connect patients with a provider within a 50-mile radius of their home. The national health program has trained doctors and nurses who understand the unique exposures and health concerns of 9/11 responders and survivors. This past July, DC 37 Safety & Health Dept. attended AFSCME’s 41st International Convention to inform thousands of AFSCME delegates about the program’s availability.

One component of our outreach is the poster campaign. This past spring, we started asking businesses around the WTC site to display our poster in order to inform the community of this vital service. There are many in the area that are eligible for the health program, but are unaware and thus have not registered for it. This is DC 37’s effort to inform the community about the existence of this valuable resource.

Liam Lynch is a federal grant-funded Outreach Specialist for the DC 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO Safety and Health Department.