As the downturn of the coal industry continues to hit home for families here in the mountain state, one local clinic wants to remind coal miners of the importance of black lung awareness and screening. 

After 10 years of working in the coal mines, Robin Stewart said an x-ray of his chest revealed a suspicious spot on his lung. 

“They asked me what I did for a living and I said I was a coal miner. They said it was probably due to my occupational hazards so I just came out to see,” said Robin.

Along with 40 other coal miners in the area, Robin went the Cabin Creek Health Center for Black Lung outreach day on January 29th.

Medical professionals guided them through the process of filing a federal black lung claim. 

“Miners come in and they fill out an application and we can arrange testing to follow up. All of this is free both today and moving forward to a federal claim,” said Chaffee Tommarello with the Cabin Creek Health Center. 

The clinic also offers state claim assistance which comes at a very low cost. 

As more layoffs and warn notices continue to be announced, the staff at the Cabin Creek Health Center wants to stress the importance of filing now.

Miners who have already filed state claims only have three years from their last date of exposure to be reevaluated. 

“We really want to make sure that miners are aware of these deadlines. If they missed today we can help them another day but we want them to file so they don’t miss out on this benefit,” said Chaffee. 

Coal miners can visit any of the states black lung clinic sites for free or low cost assistance with filing.

It’s something Robin said he feels should be available to all of those who dedicated their lives to mining coal. 

“You know you give your all to them, at least they should step up to the plate when something is wrong with you,” said Robin Stewart.

Black lung health clinics are available in many West Virginia counties. Several of those clinics are listed below.

Boone:

Wharton Medical Center – Wharton, WV

Raleigh-Boone Medical Center – Whitesville, WV

Kanawha:

Cabin Creek Health Center – Dawes, WV

Upper Kanawha Health Association – Cedar Grove, WV

Logan:

Southern West Virginia Health System – Man, WV

Southern West Virginia Health System – Logan, WV

Lincoln:

Harts Health Clinic – Harts, WV

Mingo:

Southern West Virginia Health System – Delbarton, WV

Stepptown Community Health Center – Kermit, WV