Uranium Miner Sees Lasting Health Effects, Receives Home Health Care

Truman Goode worked in uranium mines for around 40 years.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo - The years before and during the Cold War, called on the workers of the west to develop a vital resource in the arms race against the Soviet Union— Uranium.

The chemical element was littered throughout the Western Slope and eastern Utah, where miners were paid a decent wage to scour through the hills.

While the health of the nation was the goal, the health of the workers was put by the wayside.

Twice every week Truman Goode gets a checkup from the comfort of his favorite chair.

"I take it a little step further and I give him little foot rub because its a great time for us to communicate and talk about what's been going on since I last saw him." said Diane Dvirnak, a Registered Nurse who his Goode's home health provider.

Dvirnak then checks everything from toe to head.

"[I] tried to fire her a time of too, but she held on there," said Goode, chuckling while he says it. His funny bone has remained fully intact.

 For 40 years Truman worked in uranium mines in Colorado, Utah in Arizona.

"It was hard times, part of it was real hard times." said Velma Goode, Truman's wife of 65 years,  "You know, trying to make ends meet with the kids and everything."

But Truman says, given the choices, there wasn't much else.

"It paid more money than most of the jobs. Some of them gave you bonuses."

While different mines may have paid him alright, Goode, could very well have been paying with his health.

"I never worried about it. In Kanab [Utah] I was more worried about rattlesnakes than I was about my lungs." said Goode.

The work was far from easy and while he may not of thought about it too much then, safety seemed far from priority.

"Mining is a heck of a lot of hard work. You know, you get in the mines and haul heavy timber and had to lay heavy rails. No ventilation, all hunched over all the time."said Goode, "There was a lot of danger in the mine. You didn't wear a mask or anything."

Though there was a number of armed conflicts in the time in between, before and during the Cold War, the nation relied on the service of its uranium miners as a instrumental part in the arms race.

"Uranium was made to eventually create the nuclear bomb dropped in World War II," said Kristy Antonette, a registered nurse and Truman's case manager, "Mining the uranium, they were exposed to uranium dust and radiation which has now caused health problems due to their work in those areas."

At 90-years-old, Goode feel the 40 years he worked in the mines more than 25 years post-retirement.

"You know, as times went on, my lungs just got worse." he said.

His effort didn't go completely unrecognized by the government who put the pressure on his work. In compensation to workers in fields like Goode- whether it be in the Nevada test site, Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant or uranium mines throughout the west, home health care is their attempt to make up for years miners put on the line for the country.

"I'm the eyes that come in with the medical background. I've really become an advocate for him with the doctors." said Dvirnak.

Even outside of the 8 hours he sees Dvirnak, Truman always has his favorite caretaker by his side.

"We're able to train people to become home health aides. Velma is Truman's home health aide. She is with him 24 hours a day." said Antonette. 

"I'm pretty lucky. I got somebody to take care of me, I don't know what I'd do without the wife."

But, Velma is right there with him, as she has been for past 65 years.

If you, or someone you know, worked in conditions similar to Truman's, you can contact home care specialists, like Critical Nurse Staffing, to see what kind of care you qualify for.
 


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