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 CAMC, and Marshall Health.

Baby
Mangus Manske

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito introduced a federal bill Friday with bipartisan backing that would help newborns suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome have access to quality care.

The Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies Act, also known as CRIB, would recognize residential pediatric recovery facilities as providers under Medicaid.

This means the families whose newborns are born with NAS will be able to bill Medicaid for the services offered.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from Appalachia Health News Reporter Kara Lofton and Iraq War veteran Mark Combs as they discuss suicide rates among vets, Dave Mistich gives us an update on the WV Legislature's special 2016 session, and we hear our Mountain Stage song of the week.

WVU Medicine

WVU Medicine Trauma Center has acquired a computer simulator that mimics driving distracted or under the influence of alcohol. The device is designed for youth ages 14-21 and will be used in collaboration with an existing initiative “Trauma Nurses Talk Tough.”

A $5,000 State Farm Insurance grant and a network of sponsors funded the $11,000 purchase. The simulator has debuted at Morgantown high school and will be taken to other high schools, health fairs, universities and public events.

 
 

Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

A new 22-bed orthopaedic hospital is opening on a floor of Ruby Memorial as part of an effort to meet growing demand for complex orthopaedic care in the region. Existing outpatient orthopaedic clinics will continue to provide services.

The new WVU Medicine facility will provide hip or knee replacement, and orthopaedic procedures for traumatic injuries, metabolic bone disorders, musculoskeletal oncology, spine, joint degeneration, cartilage regeneration, sports injuries, ankle arthroplasty, and hand and shoulder disorders among other things, according to a press release.

Kara Lofton / WV Public Broadcasting

As part of an effort to change students' perspectives about using food as medicine, medical students at WVU Charleston took a cooking class yesterday.

“One of the things that we talked about is probably 70 percent of the adults that they'll see in the clinics have some form of metabolic disease that is directly related to nutritional status,” said Doctor Rosemarie Lorenzetti, a professor of family medicine at West Virginia University Medical School. The class was co-led by Lorenzetti and CAMC Executive Chef Bill Dodson.

zimmytws / Adobe Stock

In 2013, Governor Tomblin chose to expand the state’s Medicaid program, providing healthcare coverage for 150,000 more West Virginians. Up until this point, Medicaid expansion has had no impact on the state’s budget.

Health, doctor, nurse, mask, breathing, health insurance
Dollar Photo Club

If you are a healthcare provider in West Virginia today – a dentist, doctor, counselor, therapist – and a Medicaid patient comes into your office for treatment, you might not get paid for seeing them. Or the payment will be delayed for…well you don’t actually know how long the payment will be delayed.

This is all due to the state budget crisis.

Baby
Mangus Manske

Legislation designed to support babies born addicted to drugs passed unanimously in the United States House Of Representatives yesterday.

The bill is called The Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act. It was introduced by West Virginia U.S. representative Evan Jenkins. It is designed specifically to help babies who have neonatal abstinence syndrome, also known as NAS.

www.wvuniversityhealthcare.com

Jefferson Medical Center in Ranson has been designated one of the top 100 critical access hospitals in the country according to a new study.

The study compared factors such as outcomes, quality and cost in rural and critical access hospitals across the country. Just one West Virginia hospital came out as a top performer nationwide. Meanwhile 12 West Virginia Hospitals are doing so poorly that they are vulnerable for closure.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At Edgewood Summit retirement community in Charleston, 93-year-old Mary Mullens is waxing eloquent about her geriatrician.

“Poor old doctor Goldberg…There’s only so much a person can do, and he sure got a lot to do and does it so well,” she said.

Todd Goldberg is one of just 36 geriatricians in West Virginia, according to the American Geriatrics Society. The state needs more than four times that many.

“With the growing elderly population across America and West Virginia, obviously we need healthcare providers,” said Goldberg.

W. Va. Supreme Court Candidate Profile: Beth Walker

May 5, 2016

On West Virginia Morning, Ashton Marra profiles Supreme Court candidate Beth Walker and Appalachian Health News reporter Kara Lofton looks at the declining number of doctors who specialize in caring for the elderly. 

These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made her second West Virginia stop Tuesday morning on the campus of the University of Charleston. Clinton hosted a roundtable discussion focused on the state’s substance abuse epidemic. But she said it’s not just West Virginia that’s suffering.

“We have to treat this as an epidemic,” Clinton said. “This is a public health challenge.”

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In a tiny basement living room in southwestern Virginia, two women and their husbands listen to Joanna Davis talk about what might go wrong during their births.

“So this is an Ambu bag, and if your baby was in trouble and needed help breathing this is what we would use,” she begins.

Davis is a home birth midwife based in southwestern Virginia, but serves a significant swath of central Appalachia. Several months ago, she held a birthing class for two families interested in using her services.

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

More than 24,000 doctors across West Virginia who accept Medicaid were put on alert Monday that the state may not be able to "continue to process claims at the same consistent level."  

Bees, Honey, Honey Bees, Geezer Ridge Farm
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito stopped in Hedgesville to spotlight a unique program that uses bee-keeping to help veterans with post-traumatic stress.

Capito visited Geezer Ridge Farm in Hedgesville Monday. The farm is home to thousands of honey producing bees, and gives community members and veterans a chance to learn about bee-keeping. For many of those veterans the practice is also a form of therapy. 

Kara Lofton / WVPB

At a federal prison in Morgantown, Jeff Marrero is working with his service dog Biley on how to close doors. The golden retriever walks over to the door, tugs the thick rope wrapped around the door knob and pulls it closed.

Breast, Breast Cancer, Cancer, surgery, pink, pink ribbon
tawesit / Adobe Stock

The West Virginia cancer coalition Mountains of Hope released a five-year strategic plan for reducing the impact of cancer the state. Its goal is to create a centralized framework that collaborating health care practitioners, policymakers and advocates can follow to reduce cancer rates in the state.

www.medscape.com

A team of West Virginia scientists have made a breakthrough in cancer research that could improve the results patients see from lung cancer treatments.

Scientists from the West Virginia University Cancer Institute and the Morgantown-based bio-analytic technology company Protea say they've identified changes that occur at the molecular level in lung cancer cells. Those changes may make the cells resistant to cancer-fighting drugs, something researchers say can be a common problem among cancer patients.

Pallottine Foundation Established in Buckhannon

Apr 19, 2016
Pallottine Foundation

The Pallottine Missionary Sisters have announced the creation of the Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon. This new foundation will serve healthcare related needs of the community in Barbour, Lewis, Randolph, Upshur, and Webster counties through its annual grant award process.

http://wvconnectingcommunities.com/ / WV Connecting Communities

Despite the emphasis in West Virginia on the state's natural beauty and abundant opportunities to take in the outdoors, West Virginia is not considered a bike friendly state, according to the League of American Bicyclists. 

Dollar Photo Club

West Virginia health and research organizations have partnered to increase access to specialty treatment for Hepatitis-C in rural and underserved areas through telemedicine. A kickoff event for the project will be held today at The West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute in Morgantown.

The idea behind the project – named ECHO, or Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes – is to increase patients' access to specialists without having to physically leave their local communities.  It is a national model.

Dollar Photo Club

West Virginia launches its first inpatient substance abuse treatment program in a regional jail today. The 28-bed unit will serve male inmates at the Southwestern Regional Jail in Logan County who are awaiting transfer to prison.

The Logan County program is the ninth treatment facility overseen by the state's Division of Corrections, but the first at a regional jail.

Kara Lofton / WVPB

Thousands of autistic children in West Virginia find themselves stuck on treatment wait lists for years, missing their best chances for improvement as 2- and 3-year-olds.

Dollar Photo Club

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) seems to have reached a plateau, with as many children affected by ASD in the United States today as two years ago, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last reported on the subject. No West Virginia specific data is available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 68 school-aged children has ASD in the United States, according to a report published yesterday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summary.

Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, elderly, couple, worried
Dollar Photo Club

  37 thousand West Virginians have Alzheimer’s Disease, according to a report released this week from the national Alzheimer’s Association.

For the first time, the annual Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report also included a national survey on the financial cost of Alzheimer's or dementia. It shows the diseases can be really expensive for families and caregivers, costing Americans 236 billion dollars in 2016.

PEIA Board
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Health insurance could become more expensive for some 230,000 West Virginians after the state Public Employees Insurance Agency, or PEIA, Finance Board voted unanimously to reinstate benefit cuts.

Board members had initially approved the cuts in December, but were assured by lawmakers that the program would receive more funding during this year's legislative session.

Dollar Photo Club

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill this week giving the more than 1,700 nurse practitioners in West Virginia the ability to diagnose and treat patients without physician oversight.

Nurse practitioners in West Virginia are required to work under the guidance of a physician. But in the past, advanced practice nurses couldn’t always find physicians to sign off on their work, sometimes leaving patients without care.  House Bill 4334 attempts to address that problem.

Obama
Steve Helber / AP Photo

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Senator Joe Manchin join President Obama at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia Tuesday. According to a press release, Obama will announce Administrative actions to further the fight against the drug epidemic.

The Administrative actions include expanding access to treatment by releasing $94 million to 271 Community Health Centers to increase substance use disorder treatment services. West Virginia community health centers in Huntington, Weirton, Dawes, Scott Depot and Rock Cave will receive a total of $1.7 million in funding.

Health Wagon
Kara Lofton / WVPB

In Appalachia, barriers to healthcare include distance from a provider, lack of transportation, lack of health insurance, and the inability to take the time off of work to drive, wait and be seen. So throughout the region, mobile health units are attempting to bridge that gap and bring services to some of the populations that need them the most.

Outside of an old train station in southwestern Virginia, Teresa Gardner and Paula Hill-Meade are seeing patients.

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.”

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