NIOSH Awards $9 Million to SBU 9/11 First Responder Program

Stony Brook University Medical Center's Long Island World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program was awarded $9 million from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for its medical programs during the next year, ending in mid-July 2009. The program has cared for thousands of 9/11 first responders, including firefighters, police, and other workers, many of whom continue to suffer from health issues related to their work at Ground Zero.

"We continue to see the need to care for and monitor these patients, as conditions such as respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases and post-traumatic stress disorder are common, sometimes chronic, and require long-term monitoring by healthcare professionals," said Benjamin J. Luft, M.D., Director of the SBUMC Program. "Furthermore, we are concerned about the development of new illnesses such as cancer and autoimmune disease, which may have resulted from the intense exposure to dust and toxins."

Luft added that the new funding will help the mission of the program, which is to treat the many conditions and diseases experienced by first responders and prevent other health problems. The program is equipped to help patients with specialists in areas such as pulmonology, psychiatry, radiology, orthopedics, neurology, gastroenterology, radiology, and neurology. "We offer a unique program that addresses the medical and psychosocial needs of our patients in an integrative manner," Luft said. "All of our healthcare providers receive special training to meet the myriad of problems that these patients are confronting."

The program will build on its various treatment programs, such as medical, psychiatric care and social work, as well as research analyzing data on the types of physical and mental difficulties experienced by first responders in the seven years since the attacks. In addition, new clinical locations are planned for other areas in Suffolk and Nassau County.

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