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Macon man who worked during 9/11 struggles to get therapist

Daryl Hughes was working ground zero at the Twin Towers. The 9/11 health providers have not found a counselor for him, but he's not the only one.

MACON, Ga. — It's been 21 years since the World Trade Center buildings fell on September 11, 2001. A man in Macon was there and developed cancer and PTSD from that horrific day.

Daryl Hughes, now retired, was working for the New York Police Department (NYPD) as a detective. He joined the department in July 1983. Hughes told 13WMAZ he was on his way to work when the towers were hit. He remembers looking for other law enforcement underneath the rubble.

"That put a whole new perspective on my life," Hughes said.

When Hughes was diagnosed with cancer, he contacted the 9-11 World Trade Center Health Program. This is a federal program administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They help those impacted by the attack in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. with medical treatment, mental health resources, and other benefits. 

In August, the program merged with a new provider called Sedgwick to become Managed Care Advisors (MCA)-Sedgwick. Hughes says that's when the problems started. 

Hughes was assigned a new care provider and he asked them about getting a therapist before the anniversary of that tragic day. But he never received one because he was given the run around by the federal program and his care provider. When his provider finally found a therapist for him, it was almost 80 miles away in Conyers, Georgia. He researched the counseling center, Rockdale Psychiatric Association, and found they specialized in adolescent and pediatric counseling.

Hughes called the program provider and never heard from them. He later called his provider who told him he should find a therapist and they can add them to the network. He went to United Way and they referred him to the Family Counseling Center of Central Georgia. 

13WMAZ reach out to NIOSH and they declined an interview. They gave us a statement that said:

"The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program is aware that some members who are part of the Nationwide Provider Network (NPN) have experienced service issues following the transition to a new vendor on August 1. The WTC Health Program is working diligently with individual members and the NPN vendor, Managed Care Advisors and Sedgwick, to resolve all issues in a timely manner. If a member has already reached out to MCA-Sedgwick and is still having difficulty resolving an issue, they can reach out to the WTC Health Program’s main call center at 1-888-982-4748 or to the Program via email at WTC@cdc.gov for assistance. The Program takes all member concerns seriously and is committed to ensuring the delivery of appropriate, quality, and effective health services to all members."

Hughes was able to get ahold of a telehealth scheduler outside of the program who helps schedule counseling appointments virtually. They told Hughes someone would contact him about a therapist. He says he still feels his concerns about not having a therapist are not being addressed.

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