Health & Science

Doctor, Health, Doctor with tablet, Doctor with iPad
Public Domain Pictures

An initiative to combat the rise of hepatitis C infections has launched in West Virginia.

News outlets report a five-year program called HepConnect launched Wednesday at West Virginia University. It was created by California-based biotech company Gilead Sciences.

Roger Cisco is a fairly new patient in the Williamson Health & Wellness Center’s community health program, which serves some of the clinic’s most high-risk patients for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Anna Patrick / 100 Days in Appalachia

Kelly Browning doesn’t wait for Lyle Marcum to come to the door. She knocks and then pushes the glass door open, like she’s been there many times before.

Lyle stays where he is, sitting on a brown love seat, the TV on, and he calls for his dog, Lyla. “Get over here!” She’s running, excited, back and forth, her collar jingling until Kelly finds a leash, connects it to Lyla and slides the rope’s handle over a closet door knob. 

A handful of health science students from across West Virginia are receiving help to pay for their final year in graduate education.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the days get longer, a familiar sight has returned to the skies at dusk: bats. Bats help farmers -- and the rest of us -- by eating about a million bugs a year, per bat. But because of white nose syndrome, there are fewer bats these days. In Pennsylvania, the disease has pushed some species to the statewide endangered list. As the Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier of  reports, scientists are testing a new method to try to save these animals.

Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

West Virginia officials say the state’s passion for sports can be used to influence young people to learn about opioid use disorder and help prevent the next generation from entering the epidemic. 

That’s according to the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission, which on Tuesday announced the upcoming WVSSAC-MVB Bank Opioid Awareness Summit.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, data on the Ohio Valley’s addiction crisis show that the problem is often more profound and persistent in communities that are economically distressed. As part of the Ohio Valley ReSource series, “Working Toward Recovery,” Aaron Payne visited an Ohio community tackling both problems.

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West Virginia has the third-highest rate of African American homicide victims in the nation, according to a study by the Violence Policy Center


Clients waiting for addiction treatment services in Berkeley Co., WV
Rebecca Kiger / Ohio Valley ReSource

A Washington Post investigation finds the Ohio Valley is suffering the most from the surge in overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids, even as deaths from other substances are falling.

The Post analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and found the region has the nation’s highest rates of death due to fentanyl.

A dozen new hypodermic needles are given to a man who disposed of 12 used needles at a clinic, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012.
Robert F. Bukaty / AP file photo

“They made me feel like I was a person.”

That’s what a 40-year-old man told researchers from Johns Hopkins University about a now-closed syringe services program in the heart of central Appalachia.

Poll: Addiction, Affordability and Access Top Health Concerns in Rural America

May 22, 2019
Dr. Albert Warren consults with a patient and records the patient’s symptoms on an electronic tablet in Hawkinsville, Georgia.
Bob Nichols / USDA

More than four in 10 adults living in rural Appalachia cite drug abuse as the biggest issue facing their communities, according to “Life in Rural America: Part II,” a report released this week by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health from a telephone survey of 1,405 adults living in the rural U.S.

Polling by NPR finds that while rural Americans are mostly satisfied with life, there is a strong undercurrent of financial insecurity that can create very serious problems for many people living in rural communities.

The findings come from two surveys NPR has done with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on day-to-day life and health in rural America.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working to clean up a former mining equipment operation in Fayette County, known as the Shaffer site. The agency announced this week it has added Minden to its national priorities list of superfund sites and hosted a community conversation around their next steps. Roxy Todd was there and has this report.

Slick-o-bot / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia has agreed to expand mental health services for children after a federal investigation found the state unnecessarily institutionalized kids with emotional or behavioral disorders.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, following an investigation started five years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice determined West Virginia is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. That’s because it has too many children with serious emotional or behavioral disorders in out-of-state residential facilities. As Kara Lofton reports, the Justice Department and the state have agreed to a plan to bring West Virginia into compliance with that law within five years.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, two years ago, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources published a report stating that much of the state is at risk of outbreaks of bloodborne diseases such as HIV, and hepatitis C. The agency concluded that one of the most effective means of preventing the spread of these diseases is through harm reduction programs. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, science can be a hard subject to understand, especially upper-level higher-ed science courses. A professor in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle is creatively cracking the code to help his students understand tricky topics. Corey Knollinger has more.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A group of community members in the Northern Panhandle want to address gaps in the mental health care system. Residents met at West Virginia Northern Community College Thursday to learn about mental illness and discuss an unconventional plan to help those suffering in their community.


An exterior view of prescription drug distributor McKesson Corp. headquarters in San Francisco, in this May 3, 2006 file photo.
Paul Sakuma / AP Photo

West Virginia has reached a $37 million settlement with the drug distributor McKesson in a lawsuit accusing the company of shipping millions of suspicious orders for painkillers to the state as it was being ravaged by the opioid epidemic.

Do More Than 20 Veterans Die by Suicide Every Day?

May 2, 2019
AP Photo

Do 20 veterans die every day by suicide? Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., cited that figure in a recent press release that accompanied a veterans mental health and suicide prevention bill he introduced.

A boy protests the Rockwool company with his family on Aug. 2, 2018 in Charles Town, W.Va.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This summer will mark one year since thousands of residents in Jefferson County, West Virginia started a movement to rally against a Denmark-based company called Rockwool. The company’s proposed West Virginia plant would manufacture stone wool insulation across the street from an elementary school. The issue has sparked contention throughout the region. The voices from those against Rockwool have grown louder, but so too have those who do want Rockwool in West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, this summer will mark one year since thousands of residents in Jefferson County started a movement to rally against a Denmark-based company called Rockwool. The company’s proposed West Virginia plant would manufacture stone wool insulation across the street from an elementary school. The issue has sparked contention throughout the region. As Liz McCormick reports, the voices from those against Rockwool have grown louder, but so too have those who do want Rockwool in West Virginia.

Fentanyl-related Deaths Are the Highest in W.Va. This Is What They’re Doing about It.

Apr 30, 2019
Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo

West Virginia has the highest per-capita drug-overdose death rate in the country. And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a recent decline in overall drug overdose deaths nationwide, deaths involving fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, are on the rise. West Virginia leads the nation in that rate as well.

Clinical Associate Professor Michael McCawley of the West Virginia University School of Public Health moderated the symposium on air pollution at the Clarion Inn in Harpers Ferry. Photo taken Sat., Apr. 27, 2019.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Community members from Jefferson County, West Virginia and nearby areas came together last weekend to hear from scientific experts from around the country about air pollution and its impacts. The event’s aim was to speak “plainly” about the issue, specifically as it pertains to Rockwool – a stone wool manufacturing company setting up shop in Jefferson County.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, community members from Jefferson County and the surrounding area came together Saturday, April 27,  to hear from scientific experts from around the country about air pollution and its impacts. As Liz McCormick reports, the event’s aim was to speak “plainly” about the issue, specifically as it pertains to Rockwool – a stone wool manufacturing company setting up shop in Jefferson County.

Drug Company Gilead Gives $11M To Halt Hep C Rise In Ohio Valley

Apr 29, 2019
Courtesy Gilead Sciences

Drug maker Gilead Sciences will give $11.3 million to help prevent and treat hepatitis C in Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. That money is part of a five-year project aimed at a region that's been hit hard by the viral disease.

About 43,000 people in Kentucky have hepatitis C, according to recent estimates from Emory University.

Amid Measles Outbreaks, Debate Grows Over Religious Exemptions From Vaccination

Apr 29, 2019
CDC

Toni Wilkinson has seven children, three of them under six, and all of them home-schooled. So her house on a Lexington, Kentucky, cul-de-sac is rarely quiet.

Just inside the front door are bins filled with shoes, piles of jackets on a long bench. Across the room is the family library, crammed with school books. Crowded among them are controversial titles critical of vaccinations, the books Wilkinson used in her own homework researching vaccines.

“I just started to have questions, it was just this lingering doubt that I can’t really explain,” she said.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In June, 2017, West Virginia University Medicine was studying a little-known approach to cancer treatment called narrative medicine. The aim was to improve the treatment experience for doctors and patients alike through storytelling. We met and followed a cancer patient, Lacie Wallace, who was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer.

The art of storytelling has had lasting effects for her family and community. Almost two years later, we pick up her story again. A group of artists in Wheeling recently made good on a promise to Lacie and the two daughters she had to leave behind.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, in June, 2017, West Virginia University Medicine was studying a little-known approach to cancer treatment called narrative medicine. The aim was to improve 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. It takes time to sit down and record stories with cancer patients like Lacie Wallace, but the art of storytelling had lasting effects, especially for a patient’s family. Kara Lofton reports.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, reporters with Marketplace spent more than a year in central Appalachia. They were investigating how the opioid epidemic has changed as law enforcement began cracking down on prescription drugs. The series is part of a podcast called “The Uncertain Hour”. West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Trey Kay, host of Us and Them, recently spoke with producer Caitlin Esch. They talked about how it’s difficult to fight a drug epidemic through law enforcement alone.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, an NPR investigation found that despite mounting evidence, and a stream of dire warnings, federal regulators and mining companies failed to protect coal miners from toxic dust. Now at least 2,000 miners are dying from an epidemic of severe black lung linked to that toxic dust.

This morning, we hear a conversation between Inside Appalachia host Jessica Lilly and Becca Schimel, one of the reporters with the Ohio Valley ReSource who has followed how the medical costs for black lung may soon fall increasingly to taxpayers.

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