On Friday, June 14th, The Black Lung Center at Boone Memorial Hospital held an outreach event at the Wharton Community Center in Wharton, WV. Staff from Boone Memorial and the Division of Labor helped miners complete federal black lung claims. Also on site were representatives from Hygeia Facilities Foundation of Boone County who offered resources to assist miners with State claims.
"Miners have helped build this Country," said David Gresham, Chief Development Officer at Boone Memorial Hospital. "We want to help them get the compensation they deserve, if in fact, they have black lung disease."
The Black Lung Center at Boone Memorial Hospital has been open just over a year and tested over 1,000 miners, several of whom have been awarded their federal black lung benefits.
The Center has held various outreach events across the State and have plans to host more.
"If a miner missed this outreach event, they can attend one in the future," said Willie Carte, Director of The Black Lung Center at Boone Memorial Hospital. "We are in the process of mapping out new locations now. If you are unable to attend an outreach you can simply call our Black Lung Center at 304-369-8825 to set-up an appointment at the hospital."
The Black Lung Center is located on the Boone Memorial Hospital campus in Madison, West Virginia.
Those coming in to complete federal paperwork should bring proof of their coal mining employment: (W-2’s, pay stubs, or employment letters), work history with approximate dates of employment including name and company (NOTE: Do not get social security record due to expense), a certified copy of their marriage certificate, spouse’s social security number and date of birth, copy of divorce decree (if applicable) and copy of birth certificate and Social Security number for self and all dependents.
In addition to helping miners file claims, The Black Lung Center at Boone Memorial Hospital performs
B-Read chest x-rays (specific to black lung), spirometry testing to determine breathing capacity, EKG’s, exercise stress tests and a complete physical by a physician. The completion of claims application and the initial testing, as described above, are completely free to the miner. Miners can retest every 13 months.
"Our philosophy is, 'don't give up,'" said Carte. "Sadly, this is a progressive disease. Just because you weren't awarded your benefits in the past, doesn't mean you won't be awarded in the future."
Once claims are completed, the hospital sends them to the DOL (Division of Labor). Within 3-4 weeks miners can expect a call to come in for testing.
"We came to the realization that miners were having to travel out of State for testing so we decided that in addition to helping them file their claims, we would offer black lung testing right here in Madison (Boone County)," said Gresham.
If you were unable to attend the Wharton Outreach event and would like help filing your claim or need to schedule a black lung test, contact The Black Lung Center at Boone Memorial Hospital at 304-369-8825. Visit www.bmh.org/blacklungcenter for a list of upcoming outreach events, which will be listed at a later date.