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Federal 9/11 Health Chief to Speak at Town Hall Meeting

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The federal government’s chief coordinator of 9/11 health programs, faces what promises to be a feisty “town hall meeting” tonight. His visit comes on the heels of a Mount Sinai study that says 7 out of 10 rescuers have health problems that stem from the World Trade Center's collapse.

REPORTER: Some residents and people who work or go to school in Lower Manhattan believe their health has been deteriorating since September 11th. They complain the only clinic set up for them – as opposed to firefighters or Ground Zero workers – is small and overwhelmed.

Speaking during a protest yesterday, Yolanda Hernandez from the Lower East Side has been using the Bellevue Hospital Center to treat her asthma, acid reflux and panic attacks, but she says many of her neighbors have not been so lucky.

HERNANDEZ: 57 People come sometimes and they can’t handle it, because it’s a lot of people, and that’s when they send people to emergency.

REPORTER: Bellevue and other public health facilities don’t turn people away, but Hernandez says patients confronting long waits frequently give up or don’t come in the first place.

Mayor Bloomberg has committed $16 million dollars to expand Bellevue’s services over five years, but advocates – including Congressman Jerrold Nadler – say that’s nowhere near enough.

Tonight's meeting takes will take place at St. Paul's Chapel.

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