After thirteen years of helping those who have suffered from radiation exposure, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) and the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Pro- gram (RESEP) continue to offer assistance through Utah Navajo Health System, Inc.
Luci Begay began working with the RESEP program under former UNHS CEO Donna Singer, RESEP Medical Director Dr. Val Jones, Chris Singer and Steph-anie Makihele, who left the RESEP program in 2004. Luci became the RESEP Coordinator at that time. Though the program is over thirteen years old, it still provides assistance for the same workers who qualify for services under the same criteria.
"I enjoy helping and serving patients. That's one of the driving forces for me, the satisfaction," Luci said. "Every patient is different and they have different needs and medical situations."
Those qualifying for free screening under the RESEP program include uranium miners who worked in mines located in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington or Wyoming at any time from 1942 to 1971; were exposed to forty or more working level months (WLM) or worked at least one year. Those who qualify have primary lung cancer or certain non-malignant respiratory diseases.
Others qualifying include uranium mill workers and ore transporters from the same states, during the same years, who have primary lung cancer, certain non-malignant respiratory diseases, renal cancer or other chronic renal diseases, including nephritis and kidney tubal tissue injury.
Onsite participants, who participated onsite in a test involving atmospheric detonation of a nuclear device
• Were present within the boundaries of the Nevada, Pacific, South Atlantic or Trinity test sites, during atmospheric nuclear testing and participated in the atmospheric detonation of a nuclear device.
• After onsite participation, contracted leukemia (other than chronic lymphocytic leukemia), lung cancer, multiple mye-loma, lymphomas (not Hodgkin's disease), and primary cancer of the thyroid, male or female breast, esophagus, stomach, pharynx, small intestine, pancreas, bile ducts, gall bladder, salivary gland, urinary bladder, brain, colon, ovary, liver or lung.
Downwinders physically present in one of the affected areas downwind of the Nevada Test Site in certain counties of Arizona, Nevada or Utah, during a period of atmospheric nuclear testing and later contracted a specified compensable disease.
• Lived downwind of atmospheric nuclear tests for at least two (2) consecutive YEARS during parts of 1951-1958 and 1962.
• Have leukemia (other than chronic lymphocytic leukemia), multiple mye-loma, lymphomas (other than Hodgkin's disease), primary cancer of the thyroid, male and female breast, esophagus, stomach, pharynx, small intestine, pancreas, bile ducts, gall bladder, salivary gland, urinary bladder, brain, colon, ovary, liver or lung.
Those qualifying for RESEP services can receive screenings for chest X-rays, breathing tests, physical exams and Arterial Blood Gas (if need-ed). According to Luci, those who were not approved for RECA initially have the right to refile three times. There is no waiting period between the three refilings for services. Patients who do qualify for RESEP screenings can be rescreened every year.
"If a patient was screened a year ago, or more, they can come in for rescreening," Luci explained. "The important thing people need to know is, the Department of Justice has released a notice to let people know RECA is going to sunset in 2022. DOJ is telling people who filed for RECA prior, but were not
approved, or had deficient work information, or haven't filed for RECA and are eligible, with a compensable disease, they need to file," she stressed.
For more information about RECA and RESEP program, contact Luci Begay at the UNHS Montezuma Creek Community Health Center on Mondays, UNHS Monument Valley Community Health Center on Tuesdays, UNHS Navajo Mountain Community Health Center on Wednesdays and Montezuma Creek or Blanding Family Practice on Thursdays and Fridays. The phone number in Montezuma Creek is 435-651-3723.
Luci explained that UNHS sees potential radiation exposure clients from all counties in Utah, except Kane, Garfield, Beaver, Iron and Washington Counties, at any of the five UNHS Community Health Centers. UNHS also shares patient information with the Northern Navajo Medical Center, in Shiprock, New Mexico, to make sure they are not duplicating services.
"Knowing I can help someone makes me feel good," Luci said, adding that those who feel they might qualify should not hesitate to contact her and file for services.