Special clinics that treat people with World Trade Center-related illnesses will now be able to see more patients and reduce waiting times.
The James Zadroga Act, passed by Congress last year, went into effect Friday – providing federal funding for dozens of medical centers around the country. Several of them have been operating for years, but Dr. Phillip Brannigan, who runs the clinic at Mt. Sinai Hospital, said funding has always been precarious.
"Up until now, it's been one year at a time,” Brannigan said. "Twice over the past nine years, when funding looked like it was coming to an end, we had to give layoff notices to our staff, which, fortunately, we were able to rescind at the last minute, but still it was an unsettling experience."
Brannigan estimated Mt. Sinai’s share will increase his program's $30 million budget and 50-person staff by about 10 percent.
The Zadroga Act will pay out $1.5 billion over five years nationwide.
The program’s sponsors said there are thousands of people scattered throughout the country with September 11-related illnesses who have not been getting coordinated treatment over the last decade. Now, there will be at least one clinic in each of the 50 states.