University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health researcher Dr. Robert Cohen, professor in the division of environmental and occupational health sciences, has received a $2.1 million, three-year award from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to establish a new Black Lung Clinic Program consortium.
Dr. Cohen is project director of the new University of Illinois at Chicago-Shawnee Health Service Black Lung Clinics Program (UIC-SHS BLCP), which continues a long tradition of addressing the respiratory care and benefits needs of active, inactive, disabled, and retired coal miners in Illinois, Indiana, and across the Midwest. The new consortium joins UIC, the legacy organization of the Cook County Black Lung Clinic (begun in 1981), with SHS Southern Illinois (begun in 1979) and Southwestern Indiana Respiratory Disease Program (SIRDP), and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.
The consortium was created to increase the scope and outreach to cover all of Illinois, Indiana, and serve as a referral center for Kentucky. UIC-SHS BLCP’s purpose is to provide state of the art diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation services as well as medical coverage benefits counseling and legal expertise to miners who lack these highly specialized resources. Education and outreach efforts will seek to inform miners and their communities on the respiratory hazards of mining, the need to mitigate exposures to prevent disease, the need for screening and early diagnosis, and the need for the provision of state of the art care for those who are already severely affected. The program is also designed to enhance communication between stakeholders in the mining community and federal agencies that study these diseases and regulate the industries so that information on the patterns and intensity of disease may be fed back to these agencies and the industry to improve primary prevention, regulatory, and enforcement activities.