GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) -- The Cold War was a time when political and military tensions were high. The nuclear age changed the world as we knew it, and the lives of many men and women.
Millions of energy workers, former uranium workers, nuclear weapons workers and coal miners, now face chronic illnesses related to their work during the Cold War.
A medical provider in Colorado is offering home care to these workers to help monitor and care for their chronic illnesses. Nuclear Care Partners cares for dozens of former energy workers in the Grand Valley.
Dean Quamme is a Grand Junction, Colorado resident who relies of care from Nuclear Care Partners. Quamme worked at the Hanford site, a nuclear production complex in Washington, as well as one in Grand Junction.
Quamme worked with materials that were used to build nuclear bombs. He now uses a ‘stoma button’ to speak and breathe, after having to remove his vocal chords from fighting leukemia.
“I would do it all over,” Quamme explained proudly. “We produced and fabricated components that went into the making of a nuclear bomb.”
It was that work, and the exposure to nuclear materials, that changed his life.
“Back then, we didn’t really understand low level exposure,” Quamme explained.
It’s something many energy workers later face.
“A lot of these exposures had a latency period of sometimes up to 30 years,” explained Tyler Skeen, with Nuclear Care Partners.
Skeen says in Grand Junction, most of their patients suffer from cancer as a result of exposure to Uranium.
Nuclear Care Partners offers care to workers in their own home.
“We come in and work with the oncoming patient to find out what their needs are and how we can best serve them to keep them as well as possible,” explained Jessica Beil, with NCP.
Employees say their services are aimed at prevention and monitoring illnesses.
“It's a monitoring program to make sure we are keeping them at a baseline and not letting them decline,” Skeen said.
It’s a bond between a patient and a nurse centered on helping atomic heroes overcome work-related chronic illnesses.
“I've been very fortunate that nuclear care partners has stepped in and stepped up to provide me with the opportunity to continue to enjoy my home and my life,” Quamme said.
Nurses manage cases of former Department of Energy workers to receive care, screenings and help when applying for medical coverage for their illness.
Next year, they will also offer physical therapy.