REGO PARK, NY – The North Shore-LIJ Health System today announced the relocation of the Queens World Trade Center (WTC) Clinical Center of Excellence from Flushing to a larger facility in Rego Park. The new 3,650-square-foot center, about 50 percent larger than the Flushing facility, is part of a federally funded program that provides medical and mental health services for WTC responders in the borough of Queens.
The Queens Clinical Center for Excellence operated by LIJ Medical Center received $3.85 million under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which is providing more than $4 billion to address the health tragedies of September 11, 2001. LIJ clinicians provide care for over 3,000 WTC responders in Queens.
“Our center’s new space will allow us to better provide the needed care for our patients, and increase our services as the program expands,” Jacqueline Moline, MD, the center’s director, and vice president and chair of population health at the North Shore-LIJ Health System, said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate the new facility. “As we know, many first-responders and others who worked for weeks and months at Ground Zero and debris sites after September 11 are experiencing a range of serious health problems. They include lung disease, asthma and gastroesphogeal disease as well as a variety of cancers.” In addition, responders have also experienced ongoing mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, said Dr. Moline.
Lorelei Sander, a retired New York Police Department officer who was a first-responder on 9/11 and worked at the World Trade Center’s disaster site for 12 days, discussed her health problems related to exposure at the site. In September 2001, Ms. Sander was hospitalized overnight for breathing problems. She later developed a persistent cough, sinus swelling/irritation and gastroesphogeal disease (GERD). She returned to the police force but didn’t work at the WTC site. She retired in 2004 after 20 years on the job. Ms. Sander has been treated at the Queens WTC medical program since 2011. “For the first time, I can honestly say that my health has improved and I now have quality of life," she said. "My cough is nearly nonexistent, my GERD is under control and my sinuses have improved.”
“The Queens Center is now able to cover over 50 cancers that have been diagnosed in WTC responders and the new facility will allow us to accommodate more patients,” said Dr. Moline. The facility includes four exam rooms and is staffed by six part-time physicians of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, nurses, social workers and other healthcare professionals. As the program expands, additional staff members are being recruited including a nurse practitioner, a nurse oncology case manager and others. The facility is easily accessible from New York City subways and buses.
“The federal funding that the Queens Clinical Center of Excellence receives guarantees that LIJ Medical Center and its network of healthcare professionals will be able to continue to provide high-quality medical care and mental health services to WTC responders for the next several years, without interruption, as well as increased access to critical healthcare services,” said Michael J. Dowling, president and chief executive officer of North Shore-LIJ
"I am pleased that North Shore-LIJ is opening this new facility in Queens," said US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "I was humbled to stand with these heroes, survivors and families – day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, 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 have a brand new facility to meet all of their needs."
“The additional space in the relocated Queens WTC Clinical Center of Excellence will help to continue and expand the noble effort to provide the programs and services needed by those who served so bravely and selflessly on 9/11,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “The federal funds allocated for this new center will help to let those who responded and put themselves in danger to know that they will never be forgotten. Their physical, emotional and mental well-being depends greatly on our ability to link them with the services they so richly deserve.”
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/.