As COVID-19 began to spread across the United States last year, one of the first strategies was to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable. The elderly, particularly those in nursing homes, became top priorities for protection, as were those suffering from severe respiratory conditions.
On its own, Black Lung disease is a severe disease that has ended the lives of countless coal miners. A cure remains elusive, and regulations continue to fall short in protecting these hard-working professionals. Working in coal mines puts workers in danger of not only black lung but also any form of airborne virus, COVID and its variant strains included.
Since 1973, Cabin Creek Health, a clinic that started with one location, has provided care for miners and their family members. Today, it is an 11-facility health system with locations throughout West Virginia. When approval and subsequent distribution of vaccines became an option, their mission was to ensure that those in the coal mining industry, a high-risk profession that can result in even more high-risk diseases, were vaccinated.
Not entirely relying on physical locations, COVID-19 made Cabin Creek more mobile as well, providing places for coal miners arriving for their shifts and departing for home to receive much-needed vaccinations. In addition to the traveling events, clinic staff will continue reaching out to others.
Proactive measures by dedicated medical professionals are paramount to protecting coal miners – particularly those already suffering from Black Lung disease. Their jobs involve multiple dangers that are potentially deadly. Viruses that further affect respiratory health only make a bad situation that much worse. For coal miners, that “perfect storm” of catastrophic health consequences will continue long after a worldwide pandemic.