Appalachia Health News

Appalachia Health News tells the story of our health challenges and how we overcome them throughout the region. 

Reporter Kara Leigh Lofton covers topics such as women’s health, chronic disease and substance abuse.

Her reports document the health-related innovation, improvement and success within the Appalachian region.

Follow her on twitter at @KaraLofton and #Appalachiahealth

Appalachia Health News is produced with support from the Claude Worthington Benedum FoundationCAMCMarshall Health and WVU Reporter Kara Leigh Lofton will be covering topics such as women’s health, chronic disease and substance abuse.

Opioids, opioid, painkillers, perscription, narcotics, doctors, narcotics
Dollar Photo Club

Unintentional fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths in Ohio increased by almost six-fold in one year, beginning in 2013. Late last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Health, analyzed available data to assess risk factors for overdose.

Yesterday, the CDC released a report that found the “risk factors for fentanyl-related overdose deaths included: male gender, white race, some college or less education, history of a substance abuse problem, and a
current mental health issue.”

Opioids, opioid, painkillers, perscription, narcotics, doctors
Dollar Photo Club

President Obama’s administration is doubling down on efforts to reduce prescription opioid and heroin abuse across the nation after two major announcements in the past week.

WVU Hospitals / @wvumedicine / Instagram

Information technology specialists at Ruby Memorial Hospital are individually checking more than 14,000 computers on the hospital’s campus after malware or a virus sent the hospital into a lockdown this morning.

The hospital reportedly began experiencing issues with both its clinical and security operating systems just after midnight Tuesday, and around 4 a.m. lost the use of its video monitoring system. That sent the hospital into lockdown for nearly four hours.

www.stmarysdoc.com/ / St. Mary's Medical Center

Cabell Huntington Hospital wants to buy St. Mary’s Medical Center. The Herald-Dispatch reports that the West Virginia Health Care Authority has granted a certificate of need, meaning the authority deems the combination of the two Huntington hospitals is needed and consistent with the state's health care goals.
The two hospitals separately are the largest employers in Huntington, with nearly 5,000 employees between them. They are also each among the top ten largest employers in the state.

In this episode, we'll hear stories of loss, grief, and resilience. A lesbian woman who was abused by her husband and left for dead when she came out of the closet talks about her journey to become a boxing champion.

401(K) 2012 / www.401kcalculator.org

A new ranking of West Virginia Counties based on health outcomes shows Jefferson County ranks among the best and McDowell among the worst.

cabellhuntington.org/ / Cabell-Huntington Hospital

Historically, hospital mergers have meant higher healthcare costs for patients. So when Cabell-Huntington Hospital announced it would buy St. Mary's Medical Center over a year ago, a federal consumer protection agency stepped in to prevent the consolidation. Now, West Virginia legislation that made it to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’ desk Saturday could remove barriers to the merger and set a precedent for hospitals in similar standoffs around the country.

Zika Virus, Mosquito
Rafaelgilo / wikimedia Commons

State health officials have confirmed the first case of a West Virginian with the Zika Virus.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health received laboratory confirmation Thursday, March 10, of the state’s first case of the virus.

Bureau for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Rahul Gupta says the confirmed case involves an adult male and resident of Clay County who traveled to Haiti.  He is no longer exhibiting symptoms and has made a full recovery, according to a news release.

Kara Lofton / WVPB

Three out of four people do not take their prescription medication as directed, and one out of three people never fill their prescriptions according to a national group that tracks such things.  So several schools of health professionals, including students from the University of Charleston pharmacy school, are trying to increase awareness about the issue.


Three out of four people do not take their medication as directed, and one out of three people never fill their prescriptions, according to the national medication adherence campaign Script Your Future. Health professional students, including pharmacy students from the University of Charleston, are trying to increase awareness about the issue.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we learn about a repeal of Common Core standards, which is undergoing some changes in the Senate, WVU Tech changing locations, The "Brunch Bill" advancing through the House, and Kara Lofton brings us a report on the state of HPV vaccines.

Dusic
Kara Leigh Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Human Papillomavirus – more commonly known as HPV -- is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It is so common that almost all sexually active individuals will get it at some point, which puts them at risk for developing various cancers. The good news: HPV is preventable. The bad news: vaccination rates are low nationwide, with particularly troubling statistics coming out of West Virginia.

child, depression, behavioral health, mental health, anxiety, agression, bullying, loneliness, alone, tears, sadness, boy
Dollar Photo Club

Children in the West Virginia welfare system are nearly three times as likely as those in other states to be placed in group-care facilities. But a new program, called Safe at Home West Virginia, is beginning to change this pattern.


Since officially opening in October of 2014, Lily’s Place has cared for 91 babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

The Need for a Special Facility

Babies arrive at the facility on 7th avenue in Huntington suffering from different levels of withdrawal involved in neonatal abstinence syndrome.  Rhonda Edmunds is the Director of Nursing at Lily's Place.

Energy, heat, money, thermostat, heat pump, furnace
Dave Mistich via Tableau Public

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has announced a second application period for the federally funded Low Income Energy Assistance Program. The program is available to state residents with income at our below 130 percent of the federal poverty line in need of assistance paying home heating bills.  

Applications are being accepted from February 29, 2016 – March 11, 2016 from new households that were not previously approved for assistance.

The maximum allowable gross income levels for LIEAP FY 2016 are listed below:

HOUSEHOLD SIZE

Healthy Bodies Healthy Spirits Network

In partnership with Try This West Virginia, the West Virginia Healthy Bodies, Healthy Spirits network held a press conference today to highlight March as “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Spirits” month.

Joshua Sowards, the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Spirits/Try This coordinator, explains. “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Spirits network is about collaborating on the ground, with projects that are available and resources to get churches and faith-based organizations to help lead the way in making West Virginia healthy,” he says.

Last week, a collaborative project between West Virginia State University, the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and the World Health Organization brought thousands of scholars, researchers, professionals and students to Dubai for a conference titled “Solutions for Better Life”. Kara Lofton sat down with West Virginia Commissioner of Public Health Rahul Gupta, who was a keynote speaker at the conference, to talk about the experience.

call center, Help 4 WV
Kara Lofton / WVPB

Six months ago, First Choice Services, with funding from the Department of Health and Human Resources, launched Help 4 WV, a text, chat and call line. Although the program is new, early data shows it’s doing what it’s supposed to – connecting those in need with preexisting services.

“I smoked weed for the first time when I was 8 years old, which kind of progressed,” says Jaimee Moffitt, a phone operator at the Help 4 WV call center and a former addict. 

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginians from nine denominations will make a push next month to sign up hundreds of people in their campaign to improve people's health.

The religious groups are working with Try This West Virginia, a statewide healthy community program. The WV Healthy Bodies Healthy Spirits network will launch the month of activity on Tuesday in the secretary of state's conference room.

401(K) 2012 / www.401kcalculator.org

Seven southern and Appalachian states, including West Virginia, received Health Impact Project grants yesterday from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts to promote health in southern and Appalachian states.

The goal is to fund projects aimed at addressing health inequities in southern and Appalachian states.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A Senate bill that would ban elective dismemberment abortions in the state is now making its way through the House. The bill was the subject of a public hearing Monday and passed through the House Health Committee before being taken up by the Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

After a veto from Governor Tomblin last year, members of the Senate and the House have both taken up a bill that would allow West Virginians to consume raw milk. Members of the Senate passed the bill earlier this month on a vote of 22 to 12, and yesterday, Delegates cast their final votes.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The House of Delegates is just beginning its work on a bill that would ban one of the nation’s most commonly used second-trimester abortion methods.

As approved in the Senate, Senate Bill 10 would ban what are commonly referred to as dismemberment abortions. That ban is only when the abortion is elective, not in cases of medical emergencies. Discussion over the bill began with a public hearing Monday morning.

Doctor, medicine
sudok1 / Dollar Photo Club

People who have a terminal illness often prefer to spend their last days at home, rather than a hospital. WVU published research this month showing there’s a way to make it easier for those people to do so. In reality, it all comes down to paperwork.  

Janet Black looks up from her bed. She is terminally ill with end-stage lung disease and is due to be discharged into hospice care any day.

Cigarette, tobacco
nikkytok / Dollar Photo Club

A new Tobacco-Free Coalition from the Tennessee Department of Health has proclaimed February 22-26 as Tennessee Quit Week.

According to a press release, “It is part of a statewide effort to raise awareness of the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine and other free resources available to help Tennesseans quit smoking and/or using other tobacco products.”

Learn more and find a calendar of Quit Week events at http://tn.gov/health/topic/FHW-tobacco. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #QuITTInTimeTN.

Heart Disease, Cholesterol, American Heart Association, Heart, Heart Health, Body, Veins, Blood, Health, Appalachia Health News
Dollar Photo Club

The Virginia Department of Health, Mount Rogers Health District is offering cholesterol clinics to residents in Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington and Wythe counties and the cities of Bristol and Galax.

High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors leading to cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. In the United States, heart disease continues to be the number one killer for both men and women.

The clinics will be available at all district health department locations.

Dollar Photo Club

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the first case of Zika virus infection in a North Carolina resident today. The adult, whose name was withheld, had recently traveled to a country with ongoing Zika virus transmission. The patients’ symptoms have resolved. 

chapelboro.com

Free radon testing kits are now available to all 100 North Carolina counties, according to a press release earlier this week.

The kits are available through the NC Radon Program, which is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. Officials are distributing the kits through county health departments, although the press release noted supplies are limited.

Chuck Kleine / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A local-food nonprofit based in the Northern Panhandle is busy this week reclaiming abandoned property. 

“Once upon a time this was the Lincoln Home site,” said a founder of Grow Ohio Valley, Danny Swan. “There were three apartment buildings here with a parking lot. We’ve taken the parking lot and the three apartment buildings - which were torn down decades ago - and we’ve reclaimed those two terraces. Each are about 40 feet wide and about 200 or 300 feet long. And we plan to build greenhouses on them.”

Del. Don Perdue, Delegate Don Perdue
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Seven bills were up for passage in the House Wednesday, including one that would give pregnant women in the state priority for substance abuse treatment.

We all know West Virginia has a huge substance abuse problem; one of the worst in the nation. So lawmakers are considering measures to address it.

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