Appalachia Health News

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New research from West Virginia University suggests too much light, instead of too little, may cause depression in hospitalized individuals. 

Researchers Randy Nelson and Courtney DeVries at the Department of Neuroscience in the WVU School of Medicine studied two groups of mice for three nights. One group was exposed to total darkness, while the other was exposed to dim light – the equivalent of a child’s night light.

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Women in Appalachia face some of the highest rates of cervical cancer in the country. They are also among the groups of women least likely to receive cancer screenings. 

The Ohio State University Professor Electra Paskett has dedicated much of her career to understanding the reasons behind why women in Appalachia are more likely to contract and die of cervical cancer. 

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Doctors point to overwhelming evidence that breast milk is superior to formula. But breastfeeding rates in the United States continue to be low. Reasons for that may be lack of paid maternity leave in the U.S., challenges breastfeeding at work, the role of WIC in subsidizing formula and the fact that for many women, breastfeeding, although natural, is a learned skill and there aren't enough people teaching techniques. 

We’re taking another listen to an episode this week that we aired earlier this year about this important topic. More than a dozen women share their stories about motherhood, breastfeeding, and society’s demands. 


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The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has selected Aetna Better Health of West Virginia as the company to oversee their management of foster care in West Virginia.

A managed care model is essentially a privatized form of contracting out government services to a company in the private sector. In most states, including West Virginia, Medicaid is contracted out through a managed care model. 

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WVU Medicine has performed West Virginia’s first heart transplant.

The surgery, performed Saturday, was done on a 61-year-old male patient from Chesapeake, Ohio. Surgeons at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute and the WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance in Morgantown conducted the procedure.

courtesy Roane General Hospital

Roane General Hospital is spending about $22 million to renovate its facilities in Spencer, West Virginia. A loan of $26 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will cover most of the expansion. 

There will be a new medical office building, offering more preventative wellness care for the community, including a gym and fitness center, free educational classes, health screenings and support groups. 


Peer Recovery Support Specialist Roger Dodd (right) speaks to fellow members of PITAR in Petersburg, W.Va. at its October 2019 meeting.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 


In order to help people struggling with addiction, some communities are taking steps to think outside the box. 

The Potomac Highlands region of the Eastern Panhandle has brought together law enforcement, faith-based organizations and community members. The goal is to create one robust network of support in this rural region for people struggling with substance use disorder. 

The network strives to combat stigma and offer a safety net that, for some, say feels like a family.

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Beginning in the late 1970s, shelters and other resources began to become available for survivors of domestic violence in West Virginia. But navigating those resources and legal processes that can go with it isn’t easy.

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A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine has been sentenced to federal prison for distributing oxycodone outside the bounds of professional practice.

Matthew Sisson was sentenced Wednesday for prescribing Oxycodone to an individual who was not his patient, according to a press release from the federal prosecutor’s office. The case was tried in federal court. 


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Five out of every 100 babies born in West Virginia are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, the physical effects experienced during withdrawal from drugs. Many of these babies are put into foster care.

There are a lot of families stepping up to take them in, but many in West Virginia  — which has the highest rate of children taken into state care in the U.S. — say they feel unprepared for the task of taking care of the children with this group of conditions.


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As many American parents struggle with opioid addiction, the number of children put into foster care in the U.S. is steadily increasing. 

In West Virginia, the foster care system has been hit particularly hard; roughly 6,700 children in the state are in foster care, an increase of almost 70% in six years. 


The Paloma Crisis Stabilization & Detox Center is located on Wilson Street in Martinsburg, W.Va. It opened in October 2018. Paloma is the first facility to offer overnight services in the Eastern Panhandle since the 1990s.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


It’s been one year since the Paloma Crisis Stabilization & Detox Center opened in Martinsburg. The facility is the first of its kind in the Eastern Panhandle in more than two decades. 

The Center is open 24/7 and offers in-patient, or overnight services for people suffering from substance use disorder. The launch of the 16-bed facility hit some bumps in the beginning, but it’s remained open and has helped more than 250 people find recovery.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, it’s been a year since the Paloma Crisis Stabilization and Detox Center opened in Martinsburg. The facility offers in-patient, or overnight services for people suffering from substance use disorder. As Liz McCormick reports, the launch of the new facility hit some bumps in the beginning, but it’s remained open and helps many find recovery.

Joanie Tobin/100 Days in Appalachia

Life as empty nesters was on the horizon for Lisa Robbins and her husband Brent. They had raised two children and were enjoying helping them with their two grandchildren. But in 2016, police arrested Lisa’s daughter, Mollie Ogle. 

“She got caught using drugs, shooting up in her vehicle in a convenience store parking lot,” Lisa said. “And so she went to jail."


Photo: Joanie Tobin/100 Days in Appalachia

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’re dedicating our episode to all the children who are affected by substance abuse before they're even born. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is a topic that is heartbreaking, but critically important for us to spend some time understanding. The stigma that follows mothers, and their unborn babies, is keeping them from getting the prenatal care, and help for recovery, that women across our region desperately need. 

100 Days in Appalachia

If you ask state departments, “Are there standards of care that all facilities treating opioid-dependent pregnant women have to follow?” The short answer is, “No, there are not exact protocols on how to do that,” said Dr. Connie White, deputy commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Public Health. 

“Like anyone that you treat with a substance use disorder, it’s very individualized.”

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Today, many seniors in rural communities don’t have the support they need to live independently, safely. Who’s going to care for our elders in the years to come? In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll explore the resources available to caregivers and their loved ones. We’ll also hear what some people are doing to help seniors feel less alone and isolated.

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In the late 1990s, the tobacco industry agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines to state governments to offset some of the medical costs associated with caring for the millions of Americans dealing with the effects of nicotine addiction. 

 

Inspired by the tobacco model, state and local governments came together in recent years to sue Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the drug OxyContin, for its role in the opioid crisis. That lawsuit came to a tentative resolution Wednesday. 

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced today that West Virginia will receive approximately 6 million dollars for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. 

The project originally launched in 2010. It currently serves every state in the union, as well as some territories and the District of Columbia. The goal is to help at-risk parents and families improve child and maternal health, prevent child abuse and neglect, and promote school readiness. 

 

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The community health center New River Health has partnered with Fayette County schools to offer a concussion-management protocol for athletes. 

The idea behind the protocol is to test high school athletes before they are injured so medical providers have a baseline on record. Then, if a concussion is suspected, the athlete is tested again to allow for a comparison between pre and post-concussion data. 

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Two rural hospitals in Appalachia -- one in Wheeling, one just across the river in Ohio -- announced they were closing in mid-August. 

 

 

 

Altogether, the closures will directly impact about 1,100 jobs. But, indirectly, it could affect the entire economy of the area. 

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice
WV Governor's Office

Gov. Jim Justice and WVU Medicine held a press conference today at Wheeling Hospital to announce preliminary plans to cover the health care and job gap left in the Northern Panhandle following the announcement of two hospital closures last month. 

 

WVU Medicine CEO Albert Wright said WVU-owned Reynolds Memorial Hospital had recently hired a handful of new physicians and plans to add 9-10 new exam rooms within its emergency department, which will allow the hospital to support an additional 15,000 patient visits per year.

The Appalachian Regional Commission held six recovery-to-work listening sessions throughout the region, including this session in March in Pineville, Kentucky.
Courtesy Appalachian Regional Commission

 


The Appalachian Regional Commission put the stamp of approval this week on recommendations to help people struggling with substance use disorder get back into the workforce.

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A new study has found that suicide is on the rise – especially in rural areas. 

Researchers from West Virginia and The Ohio State Universities looked a national suicide data over a 17-year period. They found that during that time, suicide rates jumped 41 percent with the highest rates in rural, low-income counties. West Virginia, for instance, has the 8th highest suicide rate in the nation.

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A new report shows that West Virginia is one of five states with the highest death rates in the country. The leading cause is heart disease.

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New West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources data suggests fatal drug overdose deaths might be leveling off or even decreasing slightly.

The preliminary data from 2018 suggests a 6 percent decline in overdose deaths from 2017, according to a press release.

Opioids are still the most common type of drugs seen in overdose deaths, with the most deaths coming from Fentanyl and heroin. 

Those numbers are decreasing, though. 

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced more than 1.8 billion dollars in funding to states and territories for combating the opioid epidemic.

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Representatives from WVU and WVU Medicine say they are “very close” to announcing a solution to some of the job and health care losses projected in the northern panhandle after two hospitals announced they were closing earlier this month.

 

In an interview with WV Metro News Thursday, WVU President Gordon Gee said there are plans to expand on what WVU Medicine is already doing in the northern panhandle.

 

Corey Knollinger / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Earlier this month, two rural hospitals -- one in Wheeling, one just across the river in Ohio -- announced they were closing. Since then, stakeholders have been meeting to discuss strategies for maintaining at least some of the services the hospitals provided -- especially mental health care. Because in rural states like West Virginia, losing a facility doesn’t just impact the community but can have ripple effects across the state. 

 

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West Virginia has the highest rate of heart disease in the nation. But a new study has found eating healthy foods -- regardless of specific diet -- can help reduce the risk for heart disease. 

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