History of the Stone Mountain Health Services Black Lung Program
Stone Mountain Health Services (SMHS) has provided primary health care services to people in Southwest Virginia coalfields since the opening of the first clinic in 1976. The original service area was the Town of St. Charles and the coal camps that lie along the “hollers” of Black Mountain behind the town of St. Charles. In order to help with the regional need for health care, SMHS currently operates 11 medical sites and two respiratory care sites in rural Southwest Virginia.
In 1991, in response to a recognized need of the coal miners in the region, SMHS opened the Respiratory Care Clinics. These clinics provide holistic health care to active, retired, and former coal miners and other patients with respiratory conditions. The SMHS Black Lung Program is designed to provide or assist with the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of these patients to minimize the negative effects of the respiratory problems and to maximize treatment options and patient self-care to enhance the person’s quality of life.
The program includes case finding, outreach, and marketing; screening, testing, diagnosis, and treatment; patient education; pulmonary rehabilitation referrals; and benefits counseling. The primary goals of the SMHS Black Lung Clinic Program are to continue to increase:
- Availability of medical services for individuals with Black Lung Disease
- Awareness of Black Lung Disease
- Support for individuals with Black Lung Disease
Although the Program’s focus is on Virginia and miners who come to our clinics from surrounding states, the program functions as a national resource on these issues.