Alexander, Frist, and Wamp Commend DOE Choice Of Oak Ridge Associated Universities To Manage National Supplemental Care Program

Posted on February 9, 2005

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senator Alexander and Congressman Zach Wamp commend U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s expansion of its Former Worker Medical Screening Program (FWP) and selection of Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) to lead a new supplemental former worker medical screening effort that will provide services to thousands of workers each year. This cooperative agreement will run for five years. ORAU has teamed with its partners, National Jewish Medical and Research Center (NJMRC) and Comprehensive Health Services (CHS), to run the program. "The expansion of the Former Worker Medical Screening program proves Secretary Bodman's commitment to the long term health of DOE workers," said John Shaw, DOE Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health. "I'm pleased by today's announcement by the Department of Energy that Oak Ridge Associated Universities has been selected to provide high-quality medical screening to thousands of former DOE workers," said Frist. "ORAU has proven itself as a world-class medical association, and I'm glad their resources and expertise will help provide former workers with the medical attention and care they deserve." "This partnership is good news for the Oak Ridge Associated Universities and for the thousands of former employees of the Department of Energy who will have access to this new health screening program," said Senator Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Energy Subcommittee. "It is important that we give them and their families the peace of mind or assistance they need in dealing with health issues related to the important work they've done for this country." "ORAU has proven yet again that it is a center of excellence where research and education are truly balanced," said Congressman Zach Wamp, Vice Chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee. "The ORAU partnership with National Jewish Medical and Research Center enables Oak Ridge to take the lead on a nationwide program to provide additional options for health screenings and improve the lives of those who have worked to secure our homeland." This new cooperative agreement outlines a number of goals for this project. The ORAU team will be responsible for contacting and informing former workers about the supplemental program, employing an effective communications system to answer questions and arrange medical evaluations, providing medical evaluations, and communicating test results to the former workers with recommendations for follow-up. This team will also be responsible for providing supplemental medical care services for those workers not served by regional programs; former workers who do not reside in close proximity to regional screening clinics, and former workers from any DOE site who would prefer to see their personal physician. The ORAU team will offer screening services for workers at the following locations: · In Illinois, at the Fermi Lab · In Missouri, at the Kansas City Plant · In Florida, at the Pinellas Plant · In Illinois, Argonne National Laboratory · In New Jersey, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory "The beauty of this program is that we will be able to serve former workers in all 50 states," said Dr. Joe Furman, one of the Principal Investigators on the project. "This arrangement will better serve the workers and their specific needs." ORAU, a nonprofit corporation, has more than 26 years of experience in conducting epidemiologic studies and in managing medical surveillance programs. ORAU has managed DOE's Nationwide Former Beryllium Workers Medical Surveillance Program since 1998 and has completed more than 22,000 exams and tests in the past 14 years. ORAU operates one of only five laboratories in the U.S. that can process the complicated beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test, Be-LPT. The Be-LPT is used to determine if patients have sensitivity to beryllium and are susceptible to chronic beryllium disease. National Jewish Medical and Research Center, based in Denver, Colo., provides state-of-the-art consultation and medical surveillance services to industry, government, and labor. It has the largest academic program in Occupational Respiratory Disorders in the United States and is renowned for its expertise in the medical evaluation of beryllium sensitization cases for the determination of chronic beryllium disease. For the seventh consecutive year, NJMRC has been named the 1 respiratory hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The ranking is part of the 2004 "America's Best Hospitals" guide published by the weekly newsmagazine. "The NJMRC/ORAU teams have special experience in detecting the various lung disorders that are likely to be found in some of these former workers, said Dr. Lee Newman, one of the Principal Investigators for the program. "Unfortunately, these workers are at potentially high risk for a number of lung diseases, such as chronic beryllium disease, asbestosis, silicosis, radiation injury, and cancer as a consequence of past occupational exposures. Established in 1975, Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. has created a national network of 10,000 facilities and 12,000 CHS-certified physicians. With CHS facilities within 20 miles of any U.S. ZIP code, the company is uniquely positioned to manage the occupational health of geographically dispersed employee populations nationwide. The new supplemental medical program is expected to be up and running as early as June of this year. While a timeline for the opening of the new Regional Medical Screening Programs is still being determined, the ORAU team expects have the program fully operational within nine months. Background: The 1993 National Defense Authorization Act tasked DOE with assisting workers with determining whether they had health issues related to their prior work with the department. Prior to 1993, DOE had initiated several medical surveillance programs including a beryllium medical surveillance program for former workers at Rocky Flats and the Y-12 Plant in Oak Ridge and a medical surveillance program for former radiation workers at the Rocky Flats Plant. Since 1993, DOE has initiated the Nationwide Former Beryllium Workers Medical Surveillance program and 15 other site-specific surveillance projects at 12 DOE sites. These programs have been administered by a number of different contractors. In 2004, DOE planned to consolidate all its regional former worker programs into a single, nationwide medical screening program. Following a review of former worker needs, this earlier decision was reversed. All existing regional medical screening programs will remain in operation, and several new regional programs will be opened.