Health & Science

We take an in-depth look at House Bill 2010 – modifying the state’s foster care system by transitioning it into managed care. We’ll also bring you the latest action on Senate Bill 1 – the ‘last dollar in’ community and technical college bill, and we have a piece on volunteerism in West Virginia.

 

A new crayfish species found in West Virginia was just named after an enthusiastic crayfish expert who lives in here in the state.


Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

A slender, black, rectangle, the Juul fits easily in the palm of your hand. You don’t light it, you trigger it with a click of a finger. The mist that is exhaled is so fine it’s hard to see. The nicotine is delivered via a pod the size of a AAA battery, with each pod containing the equivalent of 20 cigarettes.

That combination of small size and potent power makes the Juul the vaping device of choice for many teen users. A group of students from Casey County, Kentucky, affirms those features make “Juul-ing” – yes it has become a verb – rampant in class.

Over the weekend, a horrific fire in Clay County claimed the lives of four foster children. It's put an intense and more immediate spotlight on a child welfare system in crisis. Lawmakers have been working throughout interim sessions on addressing the significant needs of the state's foster care system, and now they bring that work into the regular session.

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Enrollment plans in West Virginia through the federal online health insurance marketplace has declined again this year.

AP file photo

The opioid crisis is one of the biggest public health challenges in our region today. One strategy that’s been proved to help curb the epidemic’s worst effects is to implement harm reduction programs. These generally offer a variety of services but the most controversial component is often the needle exchange. Just because something is  proven effective, doesn’t mean the public has bought into the idea.

This week we’re taking an in-depth look at needle exchanges -- and what they can mean for their surrounding communities.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The 2019 West Virginia Legislative session is now in full swing, and West Virginia Public Broadcasting is bringing you in-depth coverage every weekday night on our program “The Legislature Today.” In last night’s episode, host Suzanne Higgins spoke with House Minority Leader Tim Miley and Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso about Gov. Jim Justice’s third State of the State Address.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, needle exchanges are a proven way to help slow the spread of HIV and hepatitis C. They also help connect people with substance abuse disorder to recovery and treatment.

Despite approval by Virginia lawmakers, there are only three exchanges operating in that state. One roadblock is getting permission from local law enforcement.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, three workplace deaths in late December 2018 provided a grim end of the year for the coal mining industry. As the Ohio Valley ReSource's Jeff Young reports, 12 people died in the nation’s coal mines even as mining employment dropped to a record low.

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A medical professor at West Virginia University has completed a study that suggests patients may have greater satisfaction with care after surgery through telemedicine.

The school says telemedicine allows health care providers to use a computer or tablet to remotely evaluate patients.

On this West Virginia Morning, for many teenagers, nothing is more captivating than the steady stream of notifications on their phones. Almost 95% of American teens own a smartphone, and 45 percent say that they spend most of their time online. As part of an Appalachia Health News youth reporting project, Fayette Institute of Technology High School Seniors Chloe Perdue and Keesha Moore examine how social media can affect teens’ interactions.

On this West Virginia Morning, our Wild, Wondering West Virginia campaign to answer questions about the Mountain State led us to a question from Nancy Taylor. She wanted to know what the state was like during the last ice age. Environmental reporters Brittany Patterson and Glynis Board were really excited about exploring this idea. Research led them to a unique place in the state which is a remnant of the ice age - Cranesville Swamp. They went to experience it for themselves and brought back this report.

CDC / Dr. Erskine Palmer / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia health officials say flu cases are on the rise.

Lauren Spadafora is the flu coordinator for the state Department of Health and Human Resources. She told the Charleston Gazette-Mail last week that there has been a steady increase in positive flu tests across the state. 

Opioid-Makers Face Wave of Lawsuits in 2019

Dec 31, 2018

The next 12 months might just redefine the way America thinks about and responds to the opioid epidemic that now claims more than 40,000 lives each year. The nation's biggest drugmakers and distributors face a wave of civil lawsuits that could total tens of billions of dollars in damages.

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Sensitive Santa: A Kinder, Gentler Kringle for Kids with Special Needs

Dec 21, 2018
The Merritt family participated in the Sensitive Santa event in Richmond.
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

I’m not usually one to name-drop but my brother Pat Meehan is Santa Claus. A real, professional Santa.

Sitting in his home office fresh from work, he’s wearing black suspenders and a red T-shirt. There at least six other Santa outfits in his closet including beach Santa. His thick, white beard (yes, a real one) shimmers faintly with glitter.

Still, They Persist: Black Lung Advocates Demonstrate At McConnell’s Ky. Office

Dec 20, 2018
Teri Blanton speaks about watching her father die of black lung disease.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

With just days left before a Congressional deadline, advocates for black lung treatment are still pushing Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell to secure funding for miners’ benefits.

About two dozen people demonstrated Wednesday near McConnell’s regional office in London, Kentucky, carrying placards reading “Black Lung Kills” and singing along with a banjo tune modified for the occasion.

Amid Black Lung Surge, Pulmonary Rehab Brings Hope To Disabled Miners

Dec 19, 2018
Marcy Tate, right, helps a patient at New Beginnings clinic in Norton, Va.
Photo courtesy of Marcy Tate

Marcy Tate grew up in southwest Virginia in a coal mining family.

“My father-in-law was a coal miner, my father was a coal miner, my grandfather was a coal miner, my great-grandfather was a coal miner,” she said. Tate knew what black lung disease looked like.

Williamson, W.Va., seen across the border from Kentucky.
Tyler Evert / Associated Press

If you want to understand why U.S. life expectancy is declining, West Virginia is a good place to start.

The state is a bellwether of bad health, portending major problems years before they became severe nationally.

Black Lung, Red Ink: Residents Press McConnell As Deadline Looms For Black Lung Fund

Dec 17, 2018
Black lung advocates hold a 'quilt' honoring those with the disease.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

On a cool but clear November day about a dozen residents from eastern Kentucky’s coal mining region crowded into the lobby of an office building in the small town of London, Kentucky. That’s where Kentucky’s powerful senior senator, Mitch McConnell, has his local field office.

Oxfordian Kissuth / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia University is seeking public input on a new proposal to tighten its tobacco-free campus rules.

School officials say the new rules will be available for public comment from Monday through Jan. 21.

The Affordable Care Act faces a new legal challenge after a federal judge in Texas ruled the law unconstitutional on Friday. The decision risks throwing the nation's health care system into turmoil should it be upheld on appeal. But little will be different in the meantime.

"Nothing changes for now," says Julie Rovner, chief Washington correspondent of Kaiser Health News.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, journalist and professor Bonnie Stewart joins us to talk about the recent 50th anniversary of the Farmington Mine Disaster.

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The West Virginia Autism Training Center based at Marshall University has expanded its programs to Shepherd.

Shepherd joins Concord University as the second campus-based satellite site for Marshall’s autism services program.

Digging For Answers: New Report Points To Industry Obfuscation Of Mining’s Health Effects

Dec 10, 2018
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

Jason Walker spends $50 per month on bottled water. He spends three hours each week standing by the small stream that runs near his house, pumping creek water into a thousand-gallon tank.

“You have to catch the creek at the right time, when it’s clear,” Walker said. “Whatever you pump, whatever the creek looks like, is what you’re going to pump, and that’s going to pump right into your house.”

Walker, 31, used to get water from a well he shared with his mother, Sherry Walker, who lives next door. But they noticed changes after mountaintop removal mining started nearby.

In Southern W.Va., Residents Wary of Water's Health Effects

Dec 6, 2018
F. Brian Ferguson / Charleston Gazette-Mail

Joanna Bailey remembers crowding around the kitchen table with her family, carefully sticking stamps on the corners of her neighbors’ monthly water bills. Her dad managed water service in Glover, an old coal town along the Guyandotte River in Wyoming County.

Stirring the Waters: Investigating Why Many in Appalachia Lack Reliable, Clean Water

Dec 6, 2018
F. Brian Ferguson / Charleston Gazette-Mail

For many families in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia, the absence of clean, reliable drinking water has become part of daily life.

They buy bottled water rather than drink what comes out of their taps. They collect rainwater in buckets, fearing there won’t be any running water at all the next day. They drive to natural springs on the sides of highways and backroads to fill up jugs for cooking and making coffee.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Molly Born and Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter Caity Coyne have been working on a series of stories about water infrastructure issues in the southern coalfields. They’re both fellows with Report for America, an initiative that aims to strengthen local journalism.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Molly Born, Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter Caity Coyne and Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Will Wright have been working on a series of stories about water infrastructure issues in the southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky coalfields.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we begin an occasional series we’re calling ​Recovery Stories –– conversations from the heart of the nation’s opioid crisis. Today, we meet Dayton, Ohio-native Andre Lewis and his friend and recovery sponsor, William Roberts. William works in social services in Dayton and is a church pastor with nearly three decades in recovery himself. As Andre explains in this story, he first met William at a treatment program for struggling addicts.

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