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WTC Healthcare Programs Continue To Treat Those Affected By 9/11 Attacks

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TWC News: WTC Healthcare Programs Continue To Treat Those Affected By 9/11 Attacks
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Health programs serving those affected by the aftermath of the September 11th terror attacks continue to go strong, as they search for those who may still need help. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.

Even 12 years after the September 11th attacks, Manhattan mom Lillian Bermudez still shudders at the impact it had on her family.

"It was really like a nightmare," Bermudez says.

Weeks after the disaster, she had to rush her then 11-year-old son Mitchelin to Bellevue Hospital's emergency room.

"They told me he was having an asthma attack, and they had to take him into the ICU, and they told me that he almost could have died if I waited one more day," Bermudez says.

Not only did Mitchelin have asthma, but so did Lillian and her daughter, a condition they didn't have until after living and breathing in dust particles in their Lower East Side apartment.

Since 2006, they've received treatment at Bellevue Hospital's World Trade Center Environmental Health Center.

"That's based on where the dust cloud fell. Our program are for people who were living or working, going to school in that area," says HHC WTC Health Program Executive Director Terry Miles.

Having access to continuous care has meant fewer trips to the emergency room for the Bermudez family and a better quality of life.

"We come here every three months. They make sure that we stay healthy," Bermudez says.

The Health and Hospitals Corporation believes there are many more out there who could be receiving the similar care.

The window for those exposed to the aftermath of 9/11 to file a claim closes on October 1 for the Federal Victims Compensation Fund, which often gets confused with the Federal World Trade Center Health Program.

For now, federal funding to maintain 9/11 health programs like Bellevue's will continue for some time.

"The enrollment for our program will be ongoing," Miles says.

HHC serves 6,600 survivors and is one of seven 9/11 health programs in the area.

Symptoms to look for include depression and anxiety, among others.

"People who have had a long term cough that won't go away, sinus problems, indigestion problems that have simply gotten worse over time," Miles says.

Treatment is available regardless of insurance, immigration status or even ability to pay.

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