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NY Post
New York Post
1 Apr 2023


NextImg:9/11 ‘vampire’ Christine LaSala blasted over service to ailing responders

The “vampire” of 9/11 – a woman infamous for fighting illness claims by Ground Zero workers – is now overseeing a healthcare firm that is making their lives a “nightmare,” responders and advocates told The Post.

Christine LaSala, the former CEO of the taxpayer-funded WTC Captive Insurance Co., now sits on the board of Sedgwick, which last August snagged a five-year $78 million contract with the federal WTC Health Program, replacing another company to administer medical care for some 28,500 workers, residents and others with 9/11-linked illnesses who live outside the New York region.

The company has generated so many complaints that New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand fired off a letter to Sedgwick CEO David North in January, saying the services the company provides through its subsidiary, Managed Care Advisors, “do not meet the standard and quality of care expected for our nation’s 9/11 first responders and survivors.”

Reggie Cervantes, an EMT who suffered inhalation burns while working at Ground Zero, called her care under Sedgwick a “total nightmare.”
Reggie Cervantes

Their letter cites phone calls not getting returned, patients being given wrong information, inability to see doctors excluded from the network, and delays in medical care. 

“It’s a total nightmare,” said Reggie Cervantes, an EMT who suffered inhalation burns while working at Ground Zero, and developed lung diseases among other ailments. “They lack accountability, and they don’t care about us.” 

Christine LaSala

Christine LaSala’s salary, reported by The Post in 2006 as $350,000, sparked outrage.

Cervantes, who lives in a Southern California desert to help her lungs, said the firm can’t find her medical records from the prior contractor, won’t give her appointments with doctors, and hasn’t paid a therapist who treated her for PTSD.

Ben Chevat, executive director of the non-profit 9/11 Health Watch, blamed LaSala for contributing to Sedgwick’s rocky record.

“It looks like Sedgwick is taking lessons from Christine LaSala on how NOT to provide benefits and care to 9/11 responders –just as she did as head of the WTC Captive,” Chevat fumed.

John Feal

9/11 advocate John Feal said Sedgewick and LaSala have caused thousands to suffer.

LaSala headed the taxpayer-funded WTC Captive Insurance Co., which for years battled lawsuits by 10,000 workers, many with cancer, respiratory and other ailments linked to toxins in the Ground Zero dust, rubble and smoke.

Her $350,000 salary, exposed by The Post in 2006, sparked outrage.

She quit a year later, but returned a few months later with her pay cut to $234,500, prompting a congressional staffer to quip, “She’s like a vampire.

The 9/11 workers reached a $625 million settlement with the city in 2010.

John Feal, a 9/11 worker and advocate, also blasted LaSala: “The 9/11 Community deserves better than Sedgwick and Christine LaSala, both who continue to cause thousands to suffer because of incompetence, poor leadership and lack of empathy.”

Sedgwick has acknowledged problems “after transitioning into the program,” but insists it is improving.

Sedgwick spokeswoman Judy Molnar would not offer LaSala’s response to the criticism, saying she “is not involved with the WTC Health Program” or the contract. LaSala did not answer messages seeking comment.

“As an independent member of the Sedgwick board of directors, she serves only in an advisory/governance capacity, and does not engage directly in any of Sedgwick’s operations, business units or client programs,” Molnar said.

But as a board member, LaSala, 72, could exercise oversight and help fix the problems, said Brandon Szerwo, a University of Buffalo assistant professor with expertise in corporate governance.

“Best practices in governance and monitoring would have board members push management to remediate a company’s known problems, such as noncompliance with contracts, and to address underlying issues and root causes,” Szerwo said.