Health & Science

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.

Courtesy Harvest Inc.

Meigs County, Ohio, has a complicated history with marijuana.

“Meigs County Gold” has been grown illegally for years. Local legend has it that was the strain of choice for musicians like the Grateful Dead and Willie Nelson when they toured Ohio.

But for Meigs County Commissioner Randy Smith, that isn’t a source of pride. Instead it felt like a target on his back.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A Glenville State College professor set out to turn his experiences working in a mental asylum into a novel.

Jessica Lilly

Robert Bailey was a coal miner for 36 years. He began working in McDowell County, and after it became too hard to breathe, he retired from a mine owned by Patriot Coal in Boone County. Bailey first told his story with WVPB in June 2014. He shared his final story with Inside Appalachia host, Jessica Lilly, on February 15, 2019. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia looks at a disease that at least 2,000 former miners struggle with -- black lung. An NPR investigation found that miners are finding it tough to get help from doctors, lawyers, coal companies, and many lawmakers.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the rate of Alzheimer’s is increasing in every state. Researchers, including some at WVU, are working on a cure, but the cause of Alzheimer’s is still poorly understood, let alone reversing or stopping it. And as Kara Lofton reports, there’s no end in sight for families struggling with the disease.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, hemp products are becoming hot sellers, especially those containing CBD. The compound is derived from cannabis but does not intoxicate a user. Instead, users say, CBD has a wide array of health benefits. And some Ohio Valley businesses are betting big on CBD sales. But as the Ohio Valley ReSource's Liam Niemeyer reports, there’s little evidence for the health claims. And researchers worry that CBD sales are far ahead of the science.

ARC Funds Addiction Treatment For Women In Rural Kentucky And Ohio

Apr 9, 2019
Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded more than two million dollars to expand addiction treatment and recovery resources for women in rural regions of the Ohio Valley hit hard by the opioid crisis.

Ohio University received $1,100,000 for the Appalachian Recovery Project in Athens County, Ohio. WestCare Kentucky, Inc., received $1,136,000 for the Judi Patton Center for Families project in Pikeville, Kentucky.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, 800 elementary school students gathered at Marshall University on Thursday for the 11th annual Brain Expo. Kara Lofton reports the expo is designed as an opportunity to bring science out of the classroom and give third-sixth graders hands-on learning.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, emergency personnel in Wheeling were responded to more than 130 overdose calls last year.  That’s about 20 more than they received in 2017. Overdose deaths doubled. The city decided to respond by enlisting the help of people who understand this trouble better than anyone else. Corey Knollinger reports.

HHS Provides Additional Funding to Expand Addiction Treatment

Apr 3, 2019
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Ohio Valley has received nearly $60 million in additional federal funds to help combat the opioid epidemic.

Kentucky received $16,431,436, Ohio $29,122,692 and West Virginia $14,630,361. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the funds as a supplement to the first-year State Opioid Response, or SOR, grant awards.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear the next installment of our occasional series Windows into Health Care. Health reporter Kara Lofton speaks with hospice nurse Lori Carter. Carter has been a hospice nurse for 20 years. She said for her, and for many of the hospice nurses she knows, the work is a calling.

Carter says some of what she does is straight-up nursing – managing pain, dressing wounds and addressing symptoms of end-stage disease. But the more subtle part of the job is helping families navigate one of the most intimate and emotional times of their lives.

Pexels

$1 million has been awarded to West Virginia to help improve the health of pregnant women and their children.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy Start Initiative awarded the funds to the West Virginia University Research Corporation.

Adobe Stock

A total of $14,630,361 has been awarded to West Virginia by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to combat the opioid epidemic.

West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito made the announcement in a press release Thursday.

Retired coal miner John Robinson displays his mining helmet at his home in Coeburn, Va., on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.
Dylan Lovan / Associated Press

The Trump administration and coal industry allies are insisting that a federal black lung trust fund will continue to pay benefits to sick miners despite a drastic cut in funding.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a new apprenticeship program through the West Virginia Folklife Program is helping connect apprentices with master traditional artists in West Virginia. We heard from several of these folklorists in a recent episode of Inside Appalachia called Appalachia’s Folkways: Handmade and Passing it On. Roxy Todd has a story about how one of the people involved in the apprenticeship program is learning old-time fiddle music.

AP Photo / Randy Snyder

As state administrators throughout Appalachia grapple with mounting health care costs, a new resource is offering assistance to policymakers by taking lessons from success stories outside of the health sector.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Monring, people can be suspicious of end-of-life care, especially Hospice. There’s a perception that when Hospice comes in, it’s only for the last hours before someone dies. In the final story of the series about aging in Appalachia, Kara Lofton found that for some families, Hospice services can not only help the dying live, but ease the caregiving burden on their families for weeks or months.

The world has two kinds of measles problems.

In low-income countries like Madagascar and in strife-ridden countries like Yemen, the disease takes a toll because vaccines are not available or accessible or affordable. In Madagascar alone, there have been nearly 80,000 cases and an estimated 900 deaths since September.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, caring for a loved one as they age can be incredibly demanding. It can also leave you with the feeling that society has forsaken you -- especially as families move away from their home base, leaving fewer people to share responsibilities. Kara Lofton reports about a growing problem in need of innovative solutions.

Wirt County is employing many tactics to try to cultivate a more compassionate, learning-ready environment; among them: the Whole Child Health Project.
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The state faces complex ripple effects as a result of the opioid crisis. Among them, educators anecdotally report suspension rate increases in kindergarten classes, and a generation of babies born dependent on substances now being introduced to Head Start programs throughout the region.

Public school teachers and staff staged a statewide walk-in earlier this year to bring attention to what they say is a dire need for in-school mental health support. Many counties have already mobilized efforts to support students and help teachers who are not trained to cope with the increased number of traumatized youths disrupting the learning environment, including Wirt County.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the state faces complex ripple effects as a result of the opioid crisis. Schools are especially affected as they respond to increased number of children experiencing traumatic events. Many counties are working to adapt to a changing educational landscape, including Wirt County. Glynis Board visited Wirt Middle and Elementary schools recently to explore tactics being deployed.

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