11/2/2013 6:44 PM
by Joe Hellriegel
DAWES - Doctors say lung disease is a huge problem in West Virginia due to the high rate of smoking and occupational exposure at coal mines. Senator Jay Rockefeller put forth his efforts to support the opening of a new pulmonary rehabilitation program aimed at improving patients' lives.
"Ted Koppel called me a number of months ago and everything went to work and here it is," said Rockefeller. "I am incredibly proud. To me this is the essence of what I love about my job. It isn't always children's health insurance, or the affordable care act."
With the help of longtime ABC news anchor Ted Koppel and his wife, Grace Ann Dorney who suffers from COPD, the Grace Ann Dorney Rehabilitation Center came to life.
"[COPD] is the third largest killer of people in America and nobody knows that."
He says in the Affordable Care Act Bill there is $10 billion for about one thousand health clinics across the country. With millions of people suffering from chronic lung diseases, Senator Rockefeller says having a rehab facility locally, is tremendous progress.
"People getting healthcare is so important, that you want it to be as easy and convenient as possible and a rural health clinic is magic," said Rockefeller.
This rehab center is important for miners who have black lung disease, and Koppel says it wouldn't have been possible without Senator Rockefeller.
"Senator Rockefeller was the one who introduced me to all the people who also contributed financially and also contributed all their expertise and their work. You can't do this kind of thing alone," said Koppel.