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Black lung clinics step up to help miners

SIGNAGE INSIDE the East Ohio Regional Hospital office building directs patients to the former black lung clinic office inside the main hospital that closed in October. File Photo/SHELLEY HANSON

MARTINS FERRY — A new black lung clinic is set to open at WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Glen Dale this February in response to the closure of East Ohio Regional Hospital’s clinic.

Meanwhile, another clinic in Zanesville, Ohio, Genesis Healthcare System, is set to hold an open house locally to spread word to miners about its existing services.

“With the closing of East Ohio Regional Hospital, there was a void in services to coal miners and others in the region. We’re glad that we are able to reach out and provide these life-saving services to residents in Eastern Ohio,” said Dr. Emily Brawner, pulmonologist and medical director, Genesis Lung Clinic.

Scheduled open houses include:

∫ 4-6 p.m. Monday at the Monroe County Library, 96 Home Ave., Woodsfield, Ohio;

∫ 4-6 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Marietta Branch Library, 615 Fifth St., Marietta, Ohio; and

∫ 5-7 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Bolivar Library System, 455 W. Water St., Bolivar, Ohio.

During the open houses, Genesis employees will answer questions and help with the black lung claims process. There will also be free cookies and coffee offered. For more information, call Stacey Stewart, outreach coordinator, Genesis Lung Services, at 740-454-4331; or Michele Newlon, benefits counselor, Genesis Lung Services, at 740-454-4063.

Stewart said she wants coal miners to know that Genesis cares about them. She said since the closure of the clinic at the now-closed EORH, the Genesis clinic has seen 10 patients from the Belmont County area already.

“The word is getting out that people don’t have to wait,” she said.

Tisha Babcock, director of Lung Services at Genesis, said their program was established 40 years ago.

“Testing is usually done within a day. We try to make it as convenient as possible,” Babcock said.

The clinic also provides health care for the miners, such as pulmonary rehabilitation, as well. Baseline testing for miners not showing any symptoms also is offered.

At the future Reynolds Memorial Hospital Clinic, in addition to testing for black lung disease, other services to be provided will include benefits counseling, disease specific education, pulmonary rehabilitation services and respirator fit testing.

Much like Genesis, the Reynolds clinic will offer baseline screening for new miners and regular screenings for others. For more information, call 304-843-3307.

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