HSC Formalizes, Expands Medical Services for Disabled Utah Miners

HSC Formalizes, Expands Medical Services for Disabled Utah Miners

Jan 25, 2004 5:00 PM

Medical care for Utah's disabled miners will be enhanced and expanded at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center under an agreement announced today.

The U of U has been the officially designated provider of medical services for miners since 1957, when the Utah Legislature mandated that funds accrued from trust lands gifted to the state from the federal government nearly a half-century earlier for the purpose of a miners hospital be directed to the U of U Rehabilitation Center. The center treats all types of injuries and disorders requiring rehabilitation, including those common to miners.

In recent years, some miners petitioned the courts for medical services more expressly tailored to meet their specific and sometimes unique health-care needs. A settlement finalized in Third District Court today addresses miners' requests, not only allowing them access to the full range of services available through the University Health System, but creating some new programs in parts of the state where they live and work.

The first step in more personalized services is a name change--the U's rehab center will now be called the University of Utah Rehabilitation Center and Miners Hospital.

"University Hospital has long been the de facto hospital for Utah's miners; this agreement makes it official," said Phillip R. Bryant, D.O., newly named medical director of the Miners Hospital and associate professor and chair of the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the U medical school.

"The same health care we've historically provided to miners will now be offered in a more deliberate, formalized way," said Bryant. He said that in addition to treatment for common mining-related injuries and illnesses such as pneumoconiosis (black lung) and silicosis, the U of U can provide a much broader range of medical services than would be available at a stand-alone hospital designated for miners.

With the Court's approval of the settlement today, the University will immediately begin to implement the terms of that settlement, beginning with the hiring of an assistant medical director for the miners hospital and a case manager exclusively devoted to that patient population. "No matter where miners enter the University Health System--the Rehabilitation Center, an internal medicine clinic or the oncology service--they will receive closely coordinated user-friendly care," Bryant said.

The expanded services are supported by the Miners Land Grant Trust Fund.

Among services to be offered by the University of Utah Rehabilitation Center and Miners Hospital are:

-An off-site clinic two days a month in Orem, Utah, allowing miners to receive medical care in a community closer to their homes;

-Annual seminars on mining-related health issues in Price, Magna and possibly other locations where disabled miners are located in significant numbers;

-An interdisciplinary clinic at University Hospital where specialists in rehabilitation, pulmonary, orthopedic and occupational medicine will offer specialized care for medical ailments common to miners.

Outreach coordinators from the University will work with communities in Carbon and Emery counties and elsewhere which have large miner populations to coordinate diagnosis and treatment of mining-related illness and injury.

Disabled miners who use the hospital will receive ongoing needs health assessments to document their medical needs, both for epidemiological purposes and to ensure that they continue to receive appropriate treatment and education to prevent illness.

Pending the necessary applications and approvals, the Miners Hospital will be a certified provider of the Federal Black Lung Program.

For more information about medical services at the University of Utah Rehabilitation Center and Miners Hospital, call Sunny Vance-Lauritzen, administrative director of Rehabilitation Services at University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics, 801-581-2251.

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