As conditions of the FDNY, EMS and volunteer responders have expanded and oncologists have recognized the true magnitude of their patient’s problems, the Queens WTC Clinical Center of Excellence in Flushing has now moved to a bigger space.
The North Shore-LIJ Medical Center-operated clinic received $3.85 million from the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to move and expand their medical monitoring, diagnosis and treatment facility by 50 percent to better treat their nearly 3,000 patients.
“The space they had in Flushing was really appropriate for the monitoring program,” said Jacqueline Moline, M.D., the center’s director and vice president and chair of the population health at the North Shore. “As we moved to doing treatment in 2006, the space was very cramped and we weren’t able to accommodate everyone.”
According to Moline, the center is now required to have an oncology nurse manager on site to address the growing number of cancer patients following the cleanup.
“Our center’s new space will allow us to better provide the needed care for our patients, and increase our services as the program expands,” she said. “As we know, many of the first responders and others who worked for weeks and months at Ground Zero and debris sites after September 11 are experiencing a range of serious health problems.”
Retired police officer and paramedic Martin Grillo volunteered at the time of the attacks and returned every day until the site was closed in May 2002.
“Initially I was very lucky and didn’t have any problems like many of my friends, the responders, did,” Grillo said.
Nearly seven years after the cleanup efforts, his sentences were interrupted by breathing problems and short walks became a burdening task.
While Grillo was not diagnosed with cancer, doctors at the center have provided treatment for his problems with his reactive airway disease, sleep apnea and gastroesphageal reflux disease (GERD).
“I hope that they maintain the same high standards of patient care here that they did at the other facility, because I built up a good relationship with the staff here,” he said. “That’s the most important thing, that we don’t get treated like a number.”
Borough president Helen Marshall was at the ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony for the new clinic, located at 97-77 Queens Boulevard, on Monday.
“Queens is proud to be the borough with the largest number of responders,” Marshall said.
She spoke in support of the legislation that provided over $4 billion in federal funding to address health issues resulting from the WTC attacks.
“These federal funds will help continue the provisions of services and programs for those who served so bravely and so selflessly on 9/11,” she said. “Their physical, emotional and mental well being depends greatly on their ability to link them with the services they so richly deserve.”