REGO PARK, NY – “This is always a solemn week in NYC because it brings back so many memories of those who lost their lives. We remember their acts of heroism and, at the same time, continue to work to provide hope for those who gave of themselves so unselfishly.”
That was how Jacqueline Moline, MD, VP and Chair, Population Health, North Shore-LIJ Health System, opened a press conference today at the health system’s Queens WTC Clinical Center of Excellence. Dr. Moline has been a leader in the ongoing battle to secure funding for all those afflicted with cancers and other illnesses as a result of their heroic work at the WTC site.
Dr. Moline welcomed four clients who all worked at the pile and, subsequently, received diagnoses of various forms of cancer. Each was diagnosed and is receiving treatment at the Queens-based program.
John Licato, 52, of Howard Beach, is a retired police officer. His health began to decline in September, 2012; at the same time, he felt a lump on the side of his neck. A few months later, he was diagnosed with neck cancer. Now in remission, John likens the letters he’s read from supportive school children to his childhood experience of writing to soldiers stationed in Vietnam. “It’s important that everyone understands how much we value the ongoing support and how much their concern is appreciated.”
Christian Foggy, 67, of Jamaica, is a retired NYPD civilian electrician who stayed through the night to help transport electrical generators back and forth from Ground Zero. He spent the better part of two months doing this important work at the site. In 2012, Mr. Foggy was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Thanks to treatment under Zadroga, he was declared cancer-free in June, 2013. In his mind, the goal is to remain positive.
“What I remember most about 9/11 is that the human family can draw together when necessary. Through acts of kindness and compassion, we show that we’re better than evil and negativity.”
Joe Ramondino, 52, of Maspeth, is a life-long Queens resident. He spent two months working in the rubble, doing everything from helping the bucket brigade to search and rescue. In 2013, after seeking treatment for a variety of health issues, a CAT Scan revealed the presence of swollen lymph nodes. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He’s been a client of WTC Center since March of 2014, which he credits with easing the stress of handling multiple medical appointments.
“I want to thank the wonderful staff here, because, without their kindness, I don’t know where I’d be,” said Mr. Ramondino. “The fight continues. We can’t forget that day. Even as we speak here, more people are getting sick. We must stay focused and keep these programs funded.”
Patricia Workman, 76, of Flushing, became a Red Cross volunteer because she felt the need to help. She spent nearly two years offering assistance to first responders. In 2008, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma after seeking treatment for a variety of fractures and other health concerns. She has been a client of the WTC Center for four years, receiving ongoing monitoring and treatment under the Zadroga Act.
“My way of coping is to learn everything I can about my illnesses and to offer support to those who are getting new diagnoses,” she said. “I’m always thrilled when I can come here for treatment. The experience here is so personal. We have to keep it going.”
As part of her advocacy efforts, Ms. Workman left the press conference with her sister to board a train for Washington, D.C. where she will be testifying before Congress on Sept. 10 about her personal experiences.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the event came when reporters asked the panel if they would behave the same way today, given that their service caused so much physical pain and suffering. Without skipping a beat, the brave group said yes.
“I know I speak for everyone here when I say that without question we would do it all again,” said Mr. Ramondino. “That’s what we were brought here to do. Each of us was doing our job that day, and we would certainly do it all again.”
The Queens WTC Clinical Center of Excellence is one of seven clinical centers of excellence in The New York/New Jersey area that provides medical monitoring, diagnosis and treatment for WTC-related health conditions. The program is administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information, contact Queens Clinical Center of Excellence at 718-670-4174; WTC Health Program at 1-888-WTC-HP4U (1-888-982-4748); or www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/wtc/.
About North Shore-LIJ Health System
One of the nation's largest health systems, North Shore-LIJ delivers world-class clinical care throughout the New York metropolitan area, pioneering research at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, a visionary approach to medical education highlighted by the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, and healthcare coverage to individuals, families and businesses through the North Shore-LIJ CareConnect Insurance Co. Inc. North Shore-LIJ cares for people at every stage of life at 17 hospitals and more than 400 outpatient physician practices throughout the region. North Shore-LIJ’s owned hospitals and long-term care facilities house more than 6,000 beds, employ more than 10,000 nurses and have affiliations with over 9,400 physicians. With a workforce of about 48,000, North Shore-LIJ is the largest private employer in New York State. For more information, go to www.northshorelij.com.