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Stony Brook’s WTC Wellness Program Receives $60M Federal Contract

Dr. Benjamin Luft

The Stony Brook University World Trade Center Wellness Program, which serves about 10,000 emergency responders and survivors of 9/11, will be able to expand facilities and services thanks to a five-year, $60 million contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The contract names Stony Brook as one of five Clinical Centers of Excellence licensed to provide health screenings and treatment under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. The program recently relocated to a larger clinical space in Stony Brook Medicine’s new specialty care facility in Commack, New York.

According to Stony Brook Matters, Dr. Benjamin Luft and his team “will use the funds to support the operations and infrastructure costs necessary to run a large collaborative medical care model,” which “treats patients suffering from many conditions, including cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and numerous pulmonary conditions.” The funding is an acknowledgement that Stony Brook’s “collaborative and multidisciplinary approach” has provided quality healthcare to its WTC Wellness Program members.

However, it has been widely misreported that the funding was a grant, when in fact, NIOSH has awarded Stony Brook a federal contract. The distinction is important for the members of the WTC Wellness Program and for taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill. A grant is money a federal agency allocates for a stated purpose, but there is little accountability for results. Thus, universities often get research grants, which allow them to conduct scientific inquiries, but if that work turns out to be fruitless, there are no penalties.

A federal contract, on the other hand, requires specific performance. Christina Spring, associate director for communication at NIOSH confirmed for us that the funding was a contract, not a grant, and provided a copy of the Performance Work Statement, which lists 21 service requirements for a Clinical Center of Excellence, including:

  • Initial health evaluation
  • Annual medical monitoring
  • Cancer screening
  • Medical treatment
  • Case management
  • Counseling on WTC Health Program benefits
  • Counseling on available workers’ compensation, insurance, and disability insurance benefits
  • Translation and interpretive services
  • Diagnostic and treatment referrals
  • Pharmacy benefits oversight
  • Mental health assessments
  • Retention and outreach

At Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson, we applaud the outstanding work Stony Brook has done for 9/11 responders and survivors. But as attorneys who fight to get injured responders the benefits they deserve, we feel it’s important to emphasize this is not “loose” grant money; it is funding targeted for specific services to deserving individuals and it obligates Stony Brook to continue to provide those services at a standard of professional excellence.

If you have questions about your eligibility for 9/11 benefits, contact the experienced attorneys who have represented 9/11 survivors from the outset. Call Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson at 888.351.9421 or contact our office online.

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