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Patients Seeking Help for 9-11 Terrorist Attack-Related Illnesses on the Rise

Sep 12, 2016

Numerous new patients are registering for health care at local New York clinics under the World Trade Center Health (WTC) Program. Physicians say that patients tend to be sicker, which points to more serious adverse health events following the September 11th terrorist attacks, according to Newsday.

In fact, some experts feel that the number of those who will die from 9/11 associated illnesses will, eventually, exceed the 2,977 people who were killed in the attacks. As of August 2016, some 1,140 members of the WTC Health Program had died. While it remains unclear if all of the causes of death were related to the terrorist attacks, documented cases of cancer associated with NY's lingering toxic cloud's chemical and dust exposure have increased three-fold in the past two years to 5,441. Medical researchers, according to Newsday, say that cancer and diseases of the immune system and nervous system are expected to increase. All of these diseases take time to present.

On the day of the attacks, 2,753 people died in New York; 224 more killed in the jet crash at the Pentagon and the downing of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, noted Newsday.

A health program participant and retired construction foreman who worked 12-hour evening shifts every day for about nine months searching for remains at Ground Zero told Newsday, "They told us back then in 2001 that if there were going to be problems, it was going to happen 10 to 15 years after the fact…. Now it is happening. These are the lingering effects of 9/11."

More than 2,500 new people enrolled in the WTC health program in the 12 months ending June 30, bringing the total number of people being monitored for 9/11 illnesses to nearly 75,000, across the United States, according to data provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wrote Newsday. Most, over 56,580, of these people are emergency responders, recovery and cleanup workers, and volunteers who spent time, some significant, at the New York site. Also eligible for care are the thousands of people who came to NY from across the country to help in the cleanup efforts, those New Yorkers who may have moved away following the attacks, and those who lived and worked in the lower Manhattan neighborhood near the Trade Center.

A group of doctors hired by the WTC health program screen and treat 9,507 people who live outside of the greater metropolitan area. Another 8,881 are comprised of those who worked and lived near Ground Zero, according to Newsday.

The WTC program is an integral part of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, and provides health care and medical monitoring and treatment to the people who were directly affected by 9/11. Individuals seeking to join must complete paperwork with the CDC prior to evaluation for enrollment in the WTC program. Newsday notes that medical screenings and treatment are available through five main providers: Icahn School of Medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital, the New York University School of Medicine, Northwell Health system, Stony Brook University Hospital, and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University.

"What seems to be so surprising is that, even though it's been 15 years, we continue to have new enrollees into the program," Dr. Benjamin Luft, director of Stony Brook's clinic told Newsday. "We feel that the new people who are enrolling tend to be sicker than the old enrollees."

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