Appalachia Health News

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An Ashland, Kentucky, based hospital has announced it will be closing at the end of September, resulting in the loss of about 1,000 area jobs. 

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital announced it will be closing in a press release earlier this week. 

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The West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy announced the launch of a new online Overdose Data Dashboard that tracks drug overdoses across West Virginia.

The data is broken into sections -- suspected drug overdoses that emergency medical services responded to and hospital emergency room visits related to overdoses -- as well as by month and county.

Since January of last year, West Virginia emergency rooms have received more than 6,700 visits related to overdoses and EMS has responded to more than 6,600 suspected overdoses. 

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West Virginia has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country – especially for participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC. But the Department of Health and Human Resources is working to change that, by providing WIC participants with an app that provides 24/7 breastfeeding support. 

The app is called Pacify and it connects users to International Board Certified Lactation Consultants to answer questions and concerns about breastfeeding.

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A new study has found that less than a third of American adolescents and young adults who experienced a nonfatal overdose were able to get addiction treatment within 30 days. 

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The University of Rochester Medical Center has been awarded a multi-million-dollar federal grant that will help fight the worst effects of the opioid in Appalachia.

The three-year, 6.7-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will connect substance use disorder experts from the University of Rochester Recovery Center with local health care providers in 23 Appalachian counties. The counties span New York, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In Clay, downtown Main Street is maybe a half mile long.  Amid shuttered storefronts, the two most prominent stores are Family Dollar and the Dollar Tree. 

 

Like the rest of southern West Virginia, the opioid epidemic has hit Clay hard.

 

 

“I would venture to guess that every single student in this entire school has been affected by addiction in some way,” said Leslie Osborne, the school counselor.

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Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday that he is directing the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to immediately initiate a formal study to determine options for eliminating the waitlist for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Waiver (IDDW) program.


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The rate of preterm births in the U.S. has risen over the past four years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A new report card from March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization that works to help mothers and babies in the United States, has given West Virginia an F grade in the percentage of live births that are premature. 

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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. 

Eric Douglas / WVPB

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. 

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.

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