Appalachia Health News

Jim Justice
Steve Helber / AP

Gov. Jim Justice named five members to the newly reconstituted West Virginia Health Care Authority, which a new law places under the Department of Health and Human Resources.

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The cost of treating hepatitis C has dropped some in the past year or so. But price – drugs can list around 100,000 for a course – is still a barrier and can put a big burden on insurance programs like Medicaid, which has to make tough decisions about who qualifies for the lifesaving drugs.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear the conclusion to 20-year-old Kyra Soleil-Dawe’s story as part of our Struggle to Stay series. Yesterday, we heard that Kyra’s theater group, Whiskey Shine and Pantomime Productions, opened its third production to the public - William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Now, as we step back into Kyra’s story, we will hear more about Kyra’s family, and what a piece of sudden news will mean for Kyra’s Struggle to Stay.

We also hear more from Appalachia Health News about the effort to diagnose and treat hepatitis C.

doctor, pill, medicine, antibiotic, medical
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West Virginia has joined Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico and the District of Columbia in an antitrust lawsuit against six drug manufacturers.

The defendants in the multistate case are accused of violating antitrust laws, including the West Virginia Antitrust Act. The Act outlaws contracts or conspiracies that might fix, control or maintain market prices of any commodity or service.

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Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have tried to figure out why patients with diabetes have higher rates of hospitalization and readmission than the rest of the population and what can be done to prevent it.  

Associated Press

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and fifteen other U.S. Senators sent a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency yesterday urging them to further lower the amount of opioids manufacturers are allowed to produce in 2018.

The letter calls specifically for reducing opioid quotas, which are the legal amount of opioids drug companies are allowed to manufacture in the U.S.

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Nimish Metha has been a pediatric emergency medicine doctor at Women and Children’s Hospital in Charleston for more than 16 years. Kara Lofton talked with Metha about what it’s like to work in the ER, what items he wouldn’t have in his own home after seeing children come into the hospital with injuries and how he’s seen the opioid epidemic impact the pediatric population.

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Researchers at Stanford University have tracked physical activity by country in the largest study on human movement to date. The study used step data from anonymous smart phone users in more than 100 countries.

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, followed a 2012 estimate published in the Lancet that more than 5 million people die each year from causes related to inactivity.

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Invasive pneumonia may impact life expectancy by up to ten years, according to a study from Marshall University school of medicine.

The study found that patients who recover from the most severe form of invasive pneumonia, called pneumococcal pneumonia, live on average ten years less than those who didn’t get the disease.

Pneumococcal disease is caused by a type of bacteria that infects the lungs and can potentially spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders held two health care rallies yesterday in Covington, Kentucky and Morgantown, West Virginia, telling attendees to put pressure on their state representatives to vote against the GOP health care plans. Kara Lofton spoke with Sanders about his visits and what he thinks the proposed legislation would mean for Appalachia. 

WVU Medicine

WVU Medicine Children’s has established a pediatric craniofacial center that will provide plastic and oral surgery, counseling and social work for kids with skull and face abnormalities such as a cleft lip or palate. The center is the first of its kind in the state.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, nationwide, West Virginia is known for its struggles with opioid abuse and growing rates of overdose deaths. In fact, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2015, West Virginia had the highest overdose rate in the country per capita, or in proportion with the population.

Working With Addiction: A Popsicle Plant Helps To Lick The Opioid Crisis

Jul 3, 2017
Ziegenfelder employee Sonny Baxter helps coach workers with addiction.
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

If you’ve ever enjoyed a Budget Saver twin popsicle on a hot summer day, you can thank the employees of the Ziegenfelder frozen treat factory in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Floor operator Sonny Baxter keeps the line of popsicles going in the cherry-scented worksite.

AP Photos

A day after announcing she could not support the Senate Republican-backed healthcare overhaul plan, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said Wednesday she will offer her own changes to the bill which she thinks could make it more palatable in West Virginia.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A vote on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has been put on hold after several Republican Senators, including West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito, have publicly said they cannot support it. Nationally, opposition for the bill continues to mount as more and more groups release reports about the negative impacts the current bill could have on access to treatment in rural areas, like much of West Virginia.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As the opioid epidemic continues to devastate lives throughout Appalachia, health officials are reporting a spike in “second wave” epidemics like Hepatitis C. One way to combat the epidemic may be more needle exchange programs like the one at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

Once a month, Jeff Crist, an employee of the free clinic West Virginia Health Right, goes there to gently waylay participants as they walk in.

“Would you like to get tested for hep. C today?” he asks patients over and over again.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the opioid epidemic continues devastating lives throughout our region, health officials are reporting a spike in “second wave” epidemics, like hepatitis C. Kara Lofton reports that one way to combat the epidemic may be more needle exchange programs.

We also hear from independent producer Jean Snedegar, who brings us the next installment of our series on the timber industry. This time she focuses on timber procurement.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Six West Virginians held a sit-in at Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s office in Charleston yesterday saying they wouldn’t leave until she votes against the Senate bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. The group was peacefully arrested around 5pm.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders attended a rally Sunday in Charleston billed as an effort to “protect our health care.” Supporters demanded that Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., vote against the latest U.S. Senate health care bill.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week, the U.S. Senate debuted their GOP health bill, a plan that includes deep cuts to Medicaid. These cuts would have dramatic impacts on hospital finances in every state, according to an analysis released this morning by the Commonwealth Fund, particularly in Medicaid expansion states like West Virginia.

WV DHHR

Gov. Jim Justice says he'll veto legislation to sell Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley, saying the sale of state medical facilities must be part of a comprehensive plan.

Labor Gains: From Horseback to Hospitals

Jun 23, 2017
Mary Meehan

Dressed in crisp blue scrubs, Certified Nurse Midwife JoAnne Burris walks briskly, the click of her sensible clogs a counterpoint to smooth jazz in the hall.

The UK Midwife Clinic with large, color prints of newborns on the earth-tone walls, still has that new furniture smell. But word-of-mouth already has the waiting room full.

Inside Exam Room 3 Emily and Johnathan Robertson wait to hear their baby’s heartbeat.

And there it is the echoing “whoosh, ump, whoosh, ump, whoosh ump” of a strong fetal heart. “Best part of the appointment,” Burris said, “every time.”

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Last year, Richwood Middle and High School were damaged beyond repair in historic flooding and the schools moved into temporary spaces for the 2016-’17 school year.

But when the schools moved, the kids didn’t just lose their buildings, they also lost their school-based health center. Now  a bureaucratic quagmire may prevent the middle school families from having a center next year.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Analysis released this week found West Virginia could be one the most negatively impacted states in the country if Congress passes the House health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.  The health policy think tank Kaiser Family Foundation reports reductions in Medicaid or block grant financing would be especially harmful to communities in West Virginia and ten other states.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia University Medicine is taking a closer look at a little-known approach to cancer treatment called narrative medicine with the aim of improving the treatment experience for doctors and patients alike.

The idea with narrative medicine is that if doctors get to know patients through their life stories, the physicians will be able to improve their ability to care for their patients, beyond simply managing symptoms.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Gov. Jim Justice is pushing a slightly tweaked tax reform and budget plan at the Capitol. The governor held a press conference to share the concessions he says he’s made in the proposal that aims to lower the state’s personal income tax and increase the consumer sales tax rates.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two major non-partisan research groups released a study this week about the impact of Medicaid on children, families and communities in small-town, rural America.

“For the country as a whole we found that the role of Medicaid and CHIP in reducing the rate of insurance for kids and adults is even more important in rural areas and small towns,” said Joan Alker during a press conference at Riverside High School in Belle. “It’s disproportionately important to these communities.”

Photo illustration courtesy Kentucky Hospital Association

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report Tuesday, June 6, saying the GOP House health bill would negatively impact Medicaid expansion by shifting costs to states -- a move the CBPP said would harm millions, regardless of timing.

Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, elderly, couple, worried
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Last year we ran a story about the shortage of geriatricians in West Virginia. In it, we featured Todd Goldberg, the only full-time geriatrician in Charleston and head of the West Virginia University geriatrics fellowship program.

Breast, Breast Cancer, Cancer, surgery, pink, pink ribbon
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The Cancer Action Network -  the American Cancer Society's lobbying arm - is urging governors across the country, including West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, to voice concerns with the House-passed American health Care Act. They released a letter directed to all U.S. governors yesterday.

The group is particularly concerned with the legislation’s proposal to dramatically reduce funding to Medicaid – a move that would disproportionately affect poor states that expanded the program like West Virginia.

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