HHS Awards $11.4M for Mt. Sinai To Assess WTC Workers’ Health
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson yesterday announced an $11.4 million contract with Mount Sinai School of Medicine to study the health condition of World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers and volunteers who may be experiencing illness. The contract will be administered by the CDC's National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Through the project, approximately 8,500 World Trade Center site workers and volunteers will be able to receive free clinical exams at Mount Sinai and a consortium of health clinics in the New York City metropolitan area. The project's goal is to establish a system that will help employers and health care professionals identify symptoms, injuries or conditions -- such as respiratory effects, musculoskeletal disorders, chronic effects from injuries and mental health problems -- that indicate long-term illness as a result of their work. The contract also will allow Mount Sinai to create a database of its findings, which will help researchers assess workers' illness and injury patterns and provide data for future studies. Thompson said, "We want to make sure that [the workers' and volunteers'] service does not have long-term health consequences, and these screening examinations will be essential to that effort" (HHS release, 8/5).
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who helped secure funding for the screening program, has asked President Bush to allocate an additional $90 million for the approximately 30,000 volunteers believed to have assisted in recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site and at a local landfill, Newsday reports. While the $11.4 million announced by HHS yesterday will cover the cost of exams for 8,500 workers and police officers, Clinton said, "[T]housands of people are going to be left out of what is one of the most important public and occupational health efforts ever undertaken in this country." President Bush has until Aug. 31 to decide whether to approve a $5 billion emergency spending package that includes $90 million for the expanded screening program (Ramirez, Newsday, 8/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.