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Call for Appointment of 9/11 Health Czar

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 4:49 pm    Post subject: Call for Appointment of 9/11 Health Czar Reply with quote

For Immediate Release Contact: Joe Soldevere (Maloney)

January 25, 2006 (212) 860-0606

(646) 873-0745 cell

Craig Donner (Fossella)

(718) 356-8400

Reps. Fossella & Maloney

and Sick/Injured Ground Zero Workers

Call for Appointment of 9/11 Health Czar to Coordinate Feds' Response

to Ground Zero Health Impacts

-Members of Congress Joined by Sick and Injured 9/11 Workers,

Health Professionals and Union Leaders at Ground Zero Event-

New York, NY - Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY13) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY14) today called for the appointment of a 9/11 Health Czar to coordinate the federal government's response to Ground Zero health impacts. The lawmakers were joined by sick and injured Ground Zero workers, health professionals and union leaders during a press conference at Ground Zero.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt today, the lawmakers said the recent deaths of three 9/11 responders -- EMTs Timothy Keller, 41 (June 2005), Felix Hernandez, 31 (October 2005) and, earlier this month, NYPD Detective James Zadroga, 34 - underscore the need for the appointment of a seasoned health professional with the knowledge and expertise to meet the extraordinary challenges confronting the sick and injured.

It is believed that tens of thousands of first responders, federal employees and lower Manhattan residents and workers are suffering from health problems likely caused by exposure to toxins at or near the World Trade Center site, including asbestos, lead, mercury, powdered glass and other carcinogens that were stagnating in the air.

The bipartisan letter to Leavitt, a copy of which follows, was signed by Senators Clinton and Schumer and Representatives Maloney, Fossella, Nadler, Walsh, Weiner, Bishop, Serrano, Hinchey, Rangel, Lowey, Towns, Engel, King, Sweeney and Israel.

Congresswoman Maloney said, "We are in the middle of a health crisis that can't be ignored. It seems like our government has abandoned the heroes of 9/11 just when they need help the most. It is long past time for the federal government to step up and take charge of the health response to the 9/11 attacks."

Congressman Fossella said, "The 9/11 Health Czar would be directly responsible and accountable for the full range of the federal government's response. A comprehensive screening, monitoring and treatment program is essential to protecting the health of 9/11 responders. The recent deaths of several rescue workers underscore the need for enhancing current efforts and appointing one person to oversee the entire initiative. The long-term health impacts of 9/11 will remain unclear for many years, making it all the more important that we have a fully coordinated effort tracking the health and well-being of the responders. We also need to ensure that treatment is available to those who are sick or injured today as well as workers who fall ill in the future. With $125 million in federal funding for New York City recently restored, a 9/11 Health Czar will be best positioned to meet the extraordinary challenges confronting the sick and injured."

Senator Clinton said, "The tragic deaths of first responders who worked at Ground Zero remind us that too many of our heroes are still suffering from the debilitating health effects of September 11th. In addition, New York's Lower Manhattan residents and federal workers who labored at Ground Zero still do not have viable options for ongoing health monitoring or treatment. That is unacceptable. I join my colleagues in the New York Congressional delegation to request that the Department of Health and Human Services appoint a medical expert to help coordinate the federal government's response, which must be done in conjunction with the experts from the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring programs. In December, the Environmental Protection Agency disbanded the WTC Expert Technical Review Panel before it had begun to meet its mandate to identify unmet public health needs and recommend steps to further minimize the risks associated with the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks. HHS must continue this important task so that it will not be said of our government that we abandoned those who would not abandon us."

"Everyone at the Mt. Sinai Ground Zero screening program has taken a vow to never forget the workers who responded in our country's time of need," remarked Tom Hart, of the screening program's advisory committee. "We are calling on country's leadership to help stand and deliver on our promise to assist these workers in their time of need."

Dr. Jacqueline Moline, Medical Core Director of the WTC Medical Monitoring Program said, "In the past three and a half years, we've screened thousands of responders, and many of them have persistent WTC-related health problems. The need for ongoing medical monitoring and medical treatment now, and for the foreseeable future, is critical to assessing and assisting these responders. At Mount Sinai Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine we've been able to help many through our privately-funded WTC Heath Effects Treatment Program, but thousands more are estimated to need medical care today."

Also attending the press conference were David Keller, son of Timothy Keller, a 9/11 responder who passed away in June; John Bottone of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association; John Feal, John Sferazo, Marvin Bethea and Mike McCormack, 9/11 responders and members of Heroes Helping Heroes; and Linda Belfer, a lower Manhattan resident affected by 9/11.

A copy of the letter to Secretary Leavitt can also be obtained at:



The federal government does not have a single individual overseeing and coordinating the response to the health impacts of 9/11 and to date, there has been a lack of federal funding for treatment of 9/11 responders. The World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program found that roughly half of the 16,000 people followed have a medical condition resulting from 9/11. A New York City Fire Department study reported similar findings.

Other screening programs have not fared as well. One initiative geared to State workers was terminated while another for federal rescue workers was closed after screening only 400 of the approximately 10,000 federal responders at Ground Zero.
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