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Gulf Coast Residents Tell Federal Health Experts Medical Treatment For Oil Spill Concerns Absent

By Rhonda Miller | Published 30 Aug 2011 10:37pm | comments
John Gooding of Pass Christian tells a panel of federal health experts he's been sick since the BP oil spill and can't find a doctor in Mississippi to treat him for chemical exposure.

National health experts examining the effects of the BP oil spill got an earful from frustrated Gulf Coast residents Tuesday. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports people who believe they’re sick from the oil spill say they’re fed up with making phone calls and writing letters and they need medical help now.

"They’re too sick to work and we need immediate help," said John Gooding of Pass Christian. Gooding told the medical experts he’s been sick since the oil spill and his health is deteriorating.  Many at the public session said the Gulf Coast needs doctors who know how to treat chemical exposure.

"We’re working very hard to try to increase the knowledge of the health care providers who are here. We realize not all of them know what they need to know, so we’re working on that.," said Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. "It would be wonderful if there were more clinics provided, but right now, the government doesn’t have the funding to do that."

The health session was part of a meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force in Biloxi. Birnbaum advised residents not to give up documenting health problems.

"That’s the only way we’re going to have the numbers that we can then take to Congress, or someone else, and say there are needs here that aren’t being met," Birnbaum said.

Oil spill clean-up workers are the only ones included in a 10-year study by the National Institutes of Health. Aubrey Miller is a senior medical advisor for the agency.

"There are workers from Mississippi that are being enrolled, I don’t have the exact figures, but from each of the four states, Mississippi Alabama, Florida and Louisiana," Miller said.

Many at the session were visibly frustrated because medical help doesn’t seem much closer. And it didn’t go over well when they were advised to get more information from websites.

 "They don’t have Internet," one civic leader from Louisiana said. "In some of these communities people don’t have telephones. "
 

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John Gooding of Pass Christian tells a panel of federal health experts he's been sick since the BP oil spill and can't find a doctor in Mississippi to treat him for chemical exposure.


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