Appalachia Health News

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If you look at the data, West Virginia has enough pediatricians to cover the number of children here. What there aren’t enough of is many pediatric specialties such as pediatric allergists, neurologists or rheumatologists. And that’s forcing many families like the Laxtons to seek care out of state.

Lori Laxton met me at McDonalds in Beckley. When her daughter was four she began having trouble with her kidneys.

The closest pediatric urologist was at the University of Virginia Medical Center - 3.5 to four hours away from her home in Pineville.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, lawmakers and union leaders are raising concerns about practices at the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration amid an increase in coal fatalities. As Becca Schimmel reports, officials are asking questions about MSHA’s compliance assistance program.

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28 counties in West Virginia are at risk for a potential HIV outbreak, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of the vulnerable communities are rural areas in southern West Virginia. Recently, more than $1 million in federal funding has been awarded to a West Virginia University project aimed at preventing an HIV outbreak in southern West Virginia. 


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A number of studies have been published in recent years looking at the connection between sitting too much and poor health outcomes. But a new study published today found that adults who sit for one to two hours at a time without moving may have a higher mortality rate than adults who sit for the same total amount of time, but in shorter segments.

Study participants who sat more than 13 hours a day usually in bouts of 60 to 90 minutes at a time were twice as likely to die earlier than those who sat for the same amount of time, but got up and moved more frequently.

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A new study has found that sedentary older adults who add less than an hour of moderate physical activity per week can improve overall physical functioning.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 1600 men and women ages 70-89 over an average of 2.6 years. All had problems moving normally at the beginning of the study and most reported fewer than 20 minutes of physical activity a week.

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At the St. Joseph’s Hospital women’s health clinic in Buckhannon, midwife Kathy Robinson is using a doppler to look for a heartbeat during a prenatal visit. Women travel to Buckhannon for prenatal care from as far as two hours away.

 

 

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Experts and advocates gathered in Morgantown yesterday for the West Virginia University Children’s Health Policy Summit to talk about policy issues related to children’s health care.

 

 


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Millennials may be less likely to use opioids to manage chronic pain than older generations, a new nationwide survey has found.

One in five millennials who used opioids to manage pain say they regretted it.

Instead, millennials report preferring lifestyle changes to improve pain management such as exercising, eating right, quitting smoking and losing weight.

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A new study published this month in the journal Obesity has found that mothers who gained more weight during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy than deemed healthy by the Institute of Medicine were 2.5 times more likely to have babies be born large.

Large birth weight, meaning more than 8.5 pounds, is associated with a higher risk of childhood obesity.

Maternal obesity and weight gain in pregnancy have already been strongly linked to the development of overweight and obesity in children, but this is the first study to pinpoint the implications of when weight gain occurs.

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Five states, including West Virginia, have adult obesity rates above 35%, according to the 2016 State of Obesity Report. American’s waistlines have been steadily increasing since data collection began in 1990, but the problem is particularly acute in the Southeast and Midwest.

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Fifty years ago there were around 65 birth facilities in West Virginia. Now, there are only 24, which means pregnant women have to travel farther to give birth and, often, for prenatal care.

 

Take Deana Lucion, for example. Lucion was 20 weeks pregnant when the last remaining obstetrician in McDowell County retired, effectively closing Welch Community Hospital’s birthing services.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, 50 years ago, there were about 65 birth facilities in West Virginia. Now, there are 24, which means increased drive-time for access to care for today’s pregnant mothers. As Kara Lofton reports, closure of these facilities also means decreased access to women’s health services.

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Lung experts at Ohio State University Medical Center are testing whether nicotine can help people with a particular type of chronic inflammatory lung disease called sarcoidosis. If left untreated, sarcoidosis can cause severe lung damage and even death.

It is not completely understood why patients develop the disease, but some experts think it may happen when your immune system responds to a trigger, such as bacteria, viruses, dust, or chemicals.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Liam Rusmisel is a different kid this year. On the first day of kindergarten he walked into the classroom, head held high, according to his teachers. This is no small feat for a kid who had a bit of a rough start to last year.

 

 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a new report spells out just how far Appalachia has fallen behind the rest of the country on key health measures. As The Ohio Valley ReSource's Mary Meehan explains, the gap continues to grow.

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The West Virginia Department of Health and Human resources announced it will use $22 million in settlement monies received from drug distributors to combat the drug epidemic in West Virginia. 

The money came from a suit that found defendant drug companies failed to detect, report and stop the flood of suspicious prescription drug orders into the state. The defendants denied any liability, but the parties agreed to the settlement to avoid litigation.

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President Donald Trump's Commission on the Opioid Crisis recently recommended that the president declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. The commission said that such a declaration could free up money to fight the epidemic.

Back in April, we aired a special report about the opioid epidemic here in Appalachia. So this week, we’re going to revisit that story to remember how some Appalachians became addicted, and what a battle for sobriety can be like.

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In part one of this occasional series, Windows Into Health Care, health reporter Kara Lofton talks with Crittenton Services CEO and President Kathy Szafran on the issue of Trauma and Poverty.

Szafran outlines work Crittenton is doing to provide trauma-informed elementary schools - exploring ways to break the cycle of trauma by working with both kids and their families and provide insight into the effect trauma can have on the developing brain. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear the first Window into Your Care -- an occasional series in which health reporter Kara Lofton speaks with people working in some little-known aspects of health care.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


When health care experts talk about the supply of nurses nationwide, they usually warn of a shortfall if more young people don’t go into the profession. But here in West Virginia, “there is a nursing shortage. It’s not coming, it’s here,” said Ron Moore, vice president and chief nursing officer for Charleston Area Medical Center.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, in Hampshire County West Virginia, there is a small mountain ridge called Ice Mountain. Historical records suggest that, years ago, ice could be found here, even in the heat of summer. Inside Appalachia producer Roxy Todd recently visited Ice Mountain to find out if ice could still be spotted, and to check out the rare plant species that have existed here since the last ice age.

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U.S. Congressman Evan Jenkins visited Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston today to hold a roundtable with local experts about how best to address addiction and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

The roundtable was attended by about 20 health workers and community members, most of whom deal with addiction, including neonatal abstinence syndrome on an almost daily basis.

“The disease, yes disease of addiction is our most challenging public health and safety issue of our time,” Jenkins said during an opening statement.

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A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month found a 264 percent increase in overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, tramadol, and Demerol between 2012 and 2015.

Experts think the spike is likely related to illicitly manufactured drugs, particularly fentanyl, which is often cut with heroin or cocaine, rather than pharmaceutically manufactured synthetic opioids. Illegally manufactured fentanyl is often mixed with or sold as heroin. Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.


Benny Becker

Back in March, Inside Appalachia aired a report about a rise in the number of chronic black lung cases. Since then, NPR’s ongoing investigation uncovered an additional 1,000 cases of the worst form of black lung disease in Appalachia. 

https://medicine.hsc.wvu.edu

Charleston Area Medical Center plans to cut 300 positions by the end of 2017. The announcement came in a 7-and-a-half-minute video from CAMC president and CEO Dave Ramsey.

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New research has found that high school athletes who specialize in one sport from an early age are at a much higher risk for injury than those who play more than one sport.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, an environmental group’s new report shows the broad range of contaminants in many drinking water systems in the Ohio Valley. As Nicole Erwin reports, the research highlights the gap between what regulations require and what health advocates recommend for drinking water purity.

Also on today's show, Kara Lofton reports on new research that has found high school athletes who specialize in one sport from an early age are at a much higher risk for injury than those who play more than one sport.

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Researchers at WVU are working with 13 other universities to find out how food security and lifestyle choices affect an individual’s health.

WVU assistant professor of nutrition and foods Melissa Marra studied a telenutrition project in Harrison County.  The project assessed the use of telenutrition for weight loss and improved diets from middle- aged to older men, according to a news release from WVU.

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Weight gain, even among those who aren’t overweight, can causes dangerous changes to the heart, new research from the University of Texas Medical Center has found.

Researchers found that as little as a five percent increase in weight – or 6.5 pounds for a 130-pound woman, 7.5 pounds for a 150-pound man – can result in the heart getting bigger and thicker, which makes it harder for the heart to work efficiently. Thicker heart walls also reduced the amount of space the heart has to pump out blood. Thicker hearts can lead to heart failure.

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Prenatal exposure to alcohol, even in low doses, may cause a wide spectrum of major problems in fetal brain development, a new study found.

Researchers studying mice found that alcohol exposure during pregnancy can cause a wide and unpredictable range of deficits in fetuses. They think this might be due to differences in how fetal brain cells try to protect against alcohol and other toxins.

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