Appalachia Health News

Roxy Todd/ WVPB

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.

West Virginia University

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. 

Glynis Board

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.

Glynis Board

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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Elderly women with breast cancer who are also battling anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions are more likely to use opioids and die, according to a new study. 

In a press release from the University of Virginia, the researchers said their findings point to a need for better mental health care for patients with breast cancer. And that physicians should consider alternative pain management techniques such as physical therapy, massage and acupuncture. 

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A new study has found that patients undergoing heart and lung surgery are almost twice as likely to develop an opioid dependence as patients undergoing general surgery. 

The study, published this month in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, found that about 16 percent of patients who had lung surgery and 13 percent of patients who had heart surgery became persistent opioid users. 

Persistent opioid use describes someone who was not taking opioids before surgery, but continued to use the opioid prescription after physical recovery is complete.

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Moderate to vigorous aerobic activity is associated with a lower risk of several cancers. But a new study has found that weightlifting can also help reduce risk for certain kinds of cancers.  The study, published in the most recent issue of the journal for the American College of Sports Medicine, looked at the impact of weightlifting and cancer risk in 10 common types of cancer.  Researchers found weightlifting significantly reduced risk of colon cancer. For kidney cancer, weightlifting caused risk to trend downward.

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In the wake of mass shootings more public health officials are calling for gun violence to be treated as a public health concern. Health reporter Kara Lofton spoke with West Virginia University sociology professor and former police officer James Nolan about whether taking guns away or incarcerating more people would increase public safety. He argues reducing violence may be a matter of building stronger, more engaged communities. Here's part of that conversation.

 

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A West Virginia woman has sued the nation's largest e-cigarette maker, claiming the company uses a deceptive marketing campaign to intentionally target teenagers.  

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Charleston. It names San Francisco-based Juul Labs along with Altria Group and Philip Morris USA.

  

The lawsuit claims Juul violates state consumer protection law by using fraudulent and deceptive marketing practices to "exploit themes that resonated with teenagers.

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Five hospitals in West Virginia have been recognized as high performing by the annual U.S. World and News Report “Best Hospitals” report. 

Charleston Area Medical Center was ranked overall number one in the state followed by WVU Medicine. 

Mon Health and St. Mary’s Medical Center were tied for third and Thomas Memorial was fifth. 

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A new study has found that for patients with heart disease, exercise may prevent or improve artery stiffening that is associated with heart failure.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in West Virginia — mostly from heart attacks or heart failure. Heart failure occurs when arteries in the heart become stiff — due to a combination of reduced elasticity and the buildup of harmful chemicals. 

But a new study published last month in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that exercise could prevent or improve artery stiffness. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, nationally, nearly a quarter of all rural hospitals are struggling to stay open. In West Virginia, almost 40 percent of rural hospitals are at risk of closure. There are several reasons for that. 

“Inability to recruit physicians to small communities, declining population base, roughly 10,000 people a day go on Medicare and Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of care in a hospital environment,” Dave Ramsey, CEO and president of Charleston Area Medical Center, said.

WVU Medicine

Nationally, nearly a quarter of all rural hospitals are struggling to stay open. In West Virginia, almost 40 percent of rural hospitals are at risk of closure. There are several reasons for that. 

 

 

“Inability to recruit physicians to small communities, declining population base, roughly 10,000 people a day go on Medicare and Medicare [which] doesn’t cover the cost of care in a hospital environment,” explained Dave Ramsey, CEO and president of Charleston Area Medical Center. 

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