Nearly two decades after the events of September 11, 2001, the effects are still felt, physically and emotionally, by those who responded to the attacks on the World Trade Center. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the many health complications affecting the lives of these heroes. The World Trade Center Health Program, which provides medical monitoring and treatment for 9/11 responders and survivors, is confronting the dual challenges of serving on the frontlines of COVID-19 while at the same time providing WTC-related care.
The WTC Health Program, along with doctors, nurses and other medical personnel at the Clinical Centers for Excellence (CCEs) and the Nationwide Provider Network (NPN), has taken several steps to respond to the current public health crisis, including:
- Expanding telehealth — The CDC has approved more extensive use of video and telephone health services so that WTC Health Program members do not have to physically come to a clinic. Available services vary from location to location, but telehealth overall helps ensure continued care for WTC health conditions.
- In-person safety measures — Non-essential appointments are being moved to the telehealth system if possible or otherwise are being rescheduled. If you are a WTC member with an in-person appointment on your schedule, plan on attending unless your clinic notifies you otherwise.
- Longer supply of medication — WTC members who pick up prescriptions at pharmacies are now allowed to receive up to 90 days of medication in order to reduce the number of visits necessary. Your provider must give authorization allowing you to pick up this larger quantity.
- Covering COVID-19 testing — The WTC Health Program covers costs of COVID-19 testing for members who have a certified WTC-related respiratory condition (such as asthma or interstitial lung disease) or whose immune system is impaired by a WTC-related condition.
The WTC Health Program’s website provides updates regarding the COVID-19 crisis as it relates to the program’s provision of health care services.
The coronavirus poses an enhanced danger for members of the 9/11 community who have cancer, respiratory problems or other conditions tracing back to exposure to the toxic atmosphere of Ground Zero. We strongly recommend that everyone in the community enroll in the WTC Health Program, even if you are currently not sick. Enrollment is free for responders and other people who worked, lived or attended school downtown.
If you are a WTC Health Program Member and have a concern, or if you have questions about becoming a member, please reach out to Barasch & McGarry for help. Our New York attorneys would be happy to provide assistance. Call 888-351-9421 or contact us online for a free consultation.