BUFFALO — Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a member of the World Trade Center Health Program provider network and will treat first responders suffering long-term health effects related to their service following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Until now, many of these men and women who live in Western New York and across the upstate region had to travel to New York City to receive specialized medical care for 9/11-related illnesses. State Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, R-Elma, joined the president of Roswell Park Wednesday to make the announcement. Gallivan, who was serving as sheriff of Erie County in 2001, was among those who responded to Ground Zero following the attack on the World Trade Center.
“I saw firsthand the remarkable work performed by firefighters, police officers, state troopers, EMTs and other first responders on 9-11, and in the days and months that followed,” Gallivan said. “As many of these brave men and women now cope with long-term health issues associated with their service at ground zero, it is important that they have easy access to quality health care services as close to home as possible. Making Roswell Park part of the World Trade Center Health Program will ease the burden on those individuals from Western New York who answered our nation’s call for help.”
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) provides medical care for first responders and others who served in response to the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa.
Overseen by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the program covers medically necessary treatment for certified World Trade Center-related health conditions at no cost to the patient. The new program at Roswell Park was designed in collaboration with leadership from the WTCHP at Mount Sinai.
“Our first responders are always there for us, no matter the situation or conditions, and Roswell Park will be there to help first responders get the care they need,” said Roswell Park President and CEO Dr. Candace S. Johnson. “Many firefighters, state troopers, EMTs, police officers and others from Western and Central New York crossed the state to serve after the 9/11 attacks, putting themselves in harm’s way and exposing themselves to increased risk of cancer and other long-term health impacts. Our first responders no longer have to go to the other end of the state to get appropriate follow-up care that takes their special needs and circumstances into consideration.”
Representatives for New York State Troopers and firefighters from across the state also attended Wednesday’s announcement outside Roswell Park, along with Congressman Brian Higgins and officials from the city of Buffalo.
“Thank you to Roswell Park and lawmakers for seeing this through,” said Charles Murphy of the New York State Troopers PBA Board of Directors. “You worked together with your constituents to ensure these brave men and women in our region no longer have an undue hardship when seeking treatment.”
“Knowing there is a cancer center in Buffalo we can send our firefighters to is amazing,” said Syracuse Firefighter and President of the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation of NY Michael Valenti. “For me, it’s a two-hour ride. It was a cup of coffee and I arrived – Roswell Park is in our backyard.”