The Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) is a non-profit community based organization that evolved in response to raised awareness of wide spread asbestos exposure in the Libby area that surfaced in 1999. After the ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) screenings during 2000 and 2001 identified the high number of lung abnormalities, it became apparent to the community that long-term specialty care needed to be established in Libby.
St. John’s Lutheran Hospital and the local medical community realized that the existing medical facilities would not be capable of handling the number of individuals the screenings identified as needing diagnosis and care. With this realization, St. John’s Lutheran Hospital, acting County Health Officer Dr. Brad Black, and concerned community members actively created the original Clinic Advisory Committee that resulted in the creation of CARD to address these needs.
In 2000, CARD was established as a department of St. John’s Lutheran Hospital to provide diagnosis, treatment and monitoring for those exposed to Libby amphibole asbestos. Soon thereafter, Dr. Alan Whitehouse of Spokane, Washington, a pioneer in identifying and treating patients with Libby amphibole asbestos disease, became a consulting physician to CARD.
Over time it became more evident that the health impacts resulting from the asbestos exposure were not just a one-time event or short-term community issue. It became increasingly apparent that CARD could better serve the community by expanding their mission beyond treatment alone by moving into the realm of research as well. Thus in April 2003, CARD separated from St. John’s Lutheran Hospital and became a stand-alone 501 (c) 3 non-profit, community-based organization. This move allowed CARD to expand its mission to include research, and at this time also incorporate outreach and psychosocial services. The Board of Directors and clinic staff realized that the issues facing community members exposed to asbestos were multifaceted impacting nearly all aspects of an individual’s and family’s life. CARD embraces a holistic approach to patient care while also initiating national research partnerships with agencies and universities to move from Crisis to Cure.
In 2004 CARD moved to its current location, 214 East 3rd Street Libby, Montana. CARD continues to expand its healthcare services, seeing on average 35 new patients a month as well as facilitating long distance screening services for those unable to travel to Libby. In addition, CARD continues to expand its research activities and has worked collaboratively on several projects with prestigious universities and government agencies. In 2008, CARD launched a comprehensive database that will improve delivery of holistic healthcare services while at the same time, will also be golden for research activities aimed at understanding the mechanisms of Libby amphibole asbestos disease. These activities are critical in moving towards new and effective treatments.