Monday, January 29, 2007

The Battle For Ground Zero, Part 210

The number of people who are signed up with one of the WTC health clinics continues to rise, not only as more people become aware of the program, but because more are coming down with what many call the WTC cough.
The Bellevue Hospital/NYU School of Medicine clinic has enrolled more than 300 additional patients since Mayor Bloomberg's announcement last fall of plans for a $16 million program expansion. It now serves more than 800 patients.

"We're finding people predominantly with upper- and lower-respiratory problems," said clinic director Dr. Joan Reibman. "We're getting more office workers and people who were caught up in the dust cloud."

Symptoms include asthma, sinusitis and shortness of breath, Reibman said. Bellevue had focused on treating downtown residents and office workers but now has the resources to see many more patients. Mount Sinai Hospital's 9/11 monitoring program has treated thousands of rescue and office workers.

The mayor and Health and Hospitals Corp. President Alan Aviles are expected to officially unveil the expanded Bellevue center this week. It will have more clinical space and beefed up staffing to eventually treat 6,000 patients exposed to Ground Zero contaminants.
Some local politicians think that a portion of the WTC memorial needs to be set aside for the Ground Zero workers who cleared the debris and died as a result of ailments links back to their service. I think this is a very good idea, though I'm sure it will not sit well with Bloomberg.
Two state lawmakers say they'll introduce legislation tomorrow requiring the Ground Zero museum to memorialize all workers who died from illnesses after toiling in the cleanup and recovery following 9/11.

"What we want to do is put to rest this question of whether . . . people . . . are dying because of their work here," co-sponsor Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) said yesterday at Ground Zero.

Joseph Zadroga, father of NYPD Detective James Zadroga, the first rescue worker to die of a confirmed 9/11-related illness, said the new law would fulfill a deathbed vow he made to his son.

"I promised him that his death would not be in vain," said Zadroga, who was with several ailing first responders and their relatives at Ground Zero yesterday. "The day they put that memorial up with his name on it . . . my job will be done."

World Trade Center Memorial Foundation Vice President Lynn Rasic said the museum would honor fallen first responders with or without the legislation.
The Daily News has more. Meanwhile, the city is going to be slapped with a $20 million lawsuit over the death of another Ground Zero worker. The wife of a utility repairman, Mark DeBiase, 41, who restored essential cellphone service at Ground Zero - and died last year of pulmonary fibrosis filed the suit against the city. Pulmonary fibrosis is the same disease that resulted in the deaths of Detective James Zadroga and Police Officer Cesar Borja, among others.

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