Nearly 16 years have passed since the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, but emergency responders and other victims continue to suffer health consequences. That’s why the Stony Brook University WTC Wellness Program, which helps to track and serve nearly 10,000 patients affected by the tragedy, has received a new five-year federal grant totaling more than $60 million.
Awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the grant comes at a time when the WTC Wellness Program continues to expand its medical services to patients and is relocating later this month to a larger clinical space in Stony Brook Medicine’s new specialty care facility in Commack, NY.
The program is led by Benjamin Luft, MD, the Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor of Medicine in the Stony Brook University School of Medicine. As principle investigator of the new NIOSH award, Luft and his team will use the funds to support the operations and infrastructure costs necessary to run a large collaborative medical care model that serves nearly 10,000 of patients.
Managed by the Research Foundation of the State of New York, the WTC program screens 9/11 responders who may be eligible for care under the Zadroga Act and WTC victim compensation fund, and treats patients suffering from many conditions, including cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and numerous pulmonary conditions.
“Stony Brook’s WTC Wellness Program has helped turn the tragedy of 9/11 for our courageous responders into a beacon of hope with healthcare experts and resources that make a real difference in their lives and well-being,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, President of Stony Brook University. “This transformational grant will help to expand services for this important patient population and is a testament to the program’s long-term commitment and impact in caring for them.”
“Stony Brook Medicine is built on the principle that a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach provides the best healthcare, which enables us to deliver care for our patients at the highest level of quality, and to make the greatest possible impact on our region,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences, and Dean of the School of Medicine. “The WTC Wellness Program is a shining example of just how important the collaborative and innovative work of our healthcare specialists can be, and this grant will help them reach higher levels in caring for 9/11 responders.”
Dr. Luft explained the program follows a collaborative care model that integrates physician specialists from many areas, such pulmonology, radiology, oncology, psychiatry, and dermatology, along with other healthcare specialists, such as nurses and pharmacists, to provide integrative and often a one-stop location approach for a population that has many growing health concerns.
“This award is a remarkable commitment by NIOSH that enables us to help 9/11 responders who have multiple healthcare needs at every level, from their physical and mental health problems to monitoring the long-term effects yet to surface from exposures at ground zero,” said Dr. Luft. “I appreciate the confidence that the federal agencies and legislators have in our program, and that they continue to support our work to care for these patients who selflessly gave of themselves at the time of the 9/11 attacks and aftermath.”
He added that the new facility also enhances the geographic accessibility for patients, as it is located centrally on Long Island and is convenient for most of the thousands of patients.
The NIOSH award will extend support for the program until March 31, 2022.