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Statement by Dr. John Howard on COVID-19 and the WTC Health Program – 2020
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is a challenging time for all, but especially for 9/11 responders and survivors. Almost nineteen years later, the effects of that day are still felt. Challenges like COVID-19 can add to that burden. The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program’s top priority is your health and well-being. We are dedicated to continuing WTC-related physical and mental health care during the pandemic and have responded with many operational changes to help make this happen.
First, I want to thank you for your patience during this difficult and uncertain time. I also want to acknowledge and thank the medical directors, doctors, nurses and staff at the Clinical Centers of Excellence (CCEs) and the Nationwide Provider Network (NPN). While many of them are serving on the frontlines of this crisis, they continue to work tirelessly to ensure that WTC-related care continues to be available to you.
Program changes due to COVID-19
During the COVID-19 outbreak, the WTC Health Program is continuing to adapt and implement new and revised policies to make it easier for the CCEs and NPN to focus on your care. This includes expanding the use of telehealth and encouraging the use of home delivery so your WTC-related prescriptions can be delivered to your door.
We are working with the CCEs and NPN to provide COVID-19 testing and treatment to members with certain certified WTC-related conditions. We are also taking steps to better track the results of testing, so we understand the effects of COVID-19 on our members.
The CCEs and NPN staff are remotely reaching out to high-risk members. They are also rescheduling appointments or moving them to telehealth. If you have WTC-related care questions or needs, please reach out directly to your CCE or the NPN.
Please continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 prevention guidelines, such as thorough handwashing and social distancing. Also, follow your local stay-at-home orders. You can learn more about COVID-19 prevention measures, symptoms, and what to do if you get sick at www.coronavirus.gov .
The 9/11 community is resilient. Together we will overcome this challenge.
John Howard, M.D.
Administrator, World Trade Center Health Program