Specialty clinic for miner health available June 24, 25 in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Specialty clinic for miner health available June 24, 25 in Craig

Craig Press Staff

National Jewish Health’s Miners Clinic of Colorado will hold its 2019 annual screening clinic in Craig on Monday, June 24 and Tuesday, June 25 at Memorial Regional Health Medical Clinic, 785 Russell St.

This year’s team will include Dr. Cecile Rose, professor of medicine at National Jewish Health and medical director of the Miners Clinic of Colorado; Dr. E. Brigitte Gottschall, an associate professor of medicine and outreach physician for the Miners Clinic of Colorado; Richard Kraus, a physician assistant and case manager; Wendy Vonhof and Dymond Ruybal, both program coordinators for NJH; and Lauren Zell-Baran an NJH epidemiologist.

In 2018, NJH’s team at the miner’s clinics screened hundreds of miners and found a substantial percentage of those screened had respiratory abnormalities that needed further investigating.

Screenings include vocational concerns such as dust diseases of the lung, black lung in coal miners, silicosis, emphysema, and industrial bronchitis, as well as high blood pressure, heart disease and sleep apnea.

Uranium industry workers are also screened for kidney disease and lung cancer.

NJH said almost 100 miners from the Western Slope had lung abnormalities last year.

“Of the nearly 200 people screened on the Western Slope in 2018, 81 were found to have respiratory abnormalities — including abnormal chest x-ray, decreased oximetry testing, and/or decreased lung function — and were referred for further evaluation and testing,” NJH said in a statement. “In 2018, we found that 134 had non-respiratory abnormalities including high blood pressure, chest pain concerning for heart disease, symptoms suggestive for sleep apnea or were current smokers in need of smoking cessation assistance.”

The average age of miners seen is often older, but NJH said ages vary.

“The average age of miners clinic participants is 71, but their ages range from under 40 to over 80 years old,” NJH said. “Around 75% are retired and/or disabled, while 25% are currently employed.”

Miners referred for additional testing at the clinic run the gamut of aboveground and underground mining operations.

“Of the miners referred for further evaluation and testing due to abnormal respiratory screening results, approximately one-third reported having worked in a surface mine, one-third underground, and one-third reported having worked in both surface and underground mines,” NJH said.

Miners may not show respiratory symptoms early on, which is why NJH advises getting screened for peace of mind.

“Anyone exposed to mine dust is at risk for developing dust-induced lung disease,” NJH said. “Early changes of dust-induced lung diseases are often first visible on a chest x-ray without the miner having any respiratory symptoms. Early detection of dust-induced lung disease is important as it could provide an opportunity for a miner to move to a less dusty job. This will decrease the risk for future loss of lung function and disabling respiratory symptoms. We make referrals for more in-depth medical diagnostic testing if a miner does have screening findings of early work-related lung disease.”

For more information, call 303-270-2609, or toll-free at 1-877-255-LUNG (5864) or visit https://www.nationaljewish.org/treatment-programs/directory/prevention/miners-clinic.