Cabin Creek Health Systems, in Dawes, has recruited two physicians who will perform federal black lung examinations on local coal miners.
“With the passing of Dr. Donald Rasmussen in 2015, known as the ‘Black Lung Pioneer,’ there was a huge void in the availability of physicians to perform federal black lung examinations in the local area,” said Krista Clark, a Certified Respiratory Therapist at CCHS, in an email. “Cabin Creek Health Systems already performs West Virginia state black lung examinations. CCHS searched for physicians who were already doing federal testing and would be willing come to this area as an outreach to assist local coal miners. Dr. Anna Allen and Dr. Charles Werntz III graciously agreed to travel from WVU to Cabin Creek on a monthly basis to fill this need.”
Allen, from West Virginia Occupational Medicine in Morgantown, began federal black lung testing in Cabin Creek on Monday.
A Sissonville native, Allen has five years of experience performing federal black lung examinations. She is board certified in Family Medicine and Occupational Medicine and also has a master’s degree in Public Health.
Werntz also comes from WVU Occupational Medicine in Morgantown and will begin federal black lung testing in Cabin Creek in September. He is board certified in Occupational Medicine and has a master’s degree in Public Health. He has been doing federal black lung exams for five years.
“It is important for West Virginia’s coal miners to know about their health risks. It is also important for them to know if they become ill, that they have certain rights, including filing a West Virginia State Workers’ Compensation claim and also the right to file a Federal Black Lung claim,” Clark said.
To file a Federal Black Lung claim, applicants will need:
• Proof of coal mine employment (W2s, pay stubs or employment letters)
• A work history with approximate dates of employment and name of company. It is not necessary to get Social Security records, due to the expense.
• A certified copy of their marriage certificate, spouse’s Social Security number and date of birth.
An application must be filled out to start the West Virginia State or Federal Black Lung claim process. CCHS Benefits Counselor Susie Criss is available to assist applicants in the process. To schedule an appointment, call 304-595-5006, option 7.
The entire process in filing for federal black lung evaluations is free to coal miners.