Kara Leigh Lofton

Appalachia Health News Coordinator

Kara Leigh Lofton is the Appalachia Health News Coordinator at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. In 2016, Kara filed 140 reports aimed at healthcare consumers in West Virginia and adjacent regions, with topics ranging from health insurance policies to midwife-assisted home births. Kara’s stories were about evenly divided between her radio reports and short pieces she wrote for internet readers. Eight stories reached a national audience through NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition,” including several pertaining to the impact of record-breaking flooding in West Virginia and the threatened loss of health benefits for former miners. Kara’s radio stories are often illustrated by her own photographs, posted on WVPB’s website.

Previously Kara was a freelance reporter for WMRA, an affiliate of NPR serving the Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville in Virginia. One of her nationally broadcast reports, “Trauma Workers Find Solace in a Pause That Honors Life After a Death,” garnered a first place award for a feature story from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters.

Kara’s work has been published by Kaiser Health News, Medscape.com, The Hill (the news outlet and blog serving Congress), Side Effects Public Media, Virginia Living, and Blue Ridge Outdoors among other outlets. She has also written and photographed for Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, from which she earned a bachelor’s degree.

Prior to and during her university years, Kara had stints living internationally, spending months in Morocco, Spain, Turkey, and England, with shorter visits to Zambia, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and a half-dozen countries in western and central Europe. In the fall of 2015, she toured Guatemala (using her conversational Spanish), where she reported on its woefully underfunded health system. In her spare time, Kara enjoys hiking with her nurse-husband and their three friendly dogs, practicing yoga, and reading.

Ways to Connect

National Institutes of Health / commons.wikimedia.org

On January 1st, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit requirements changed for about 38 thousand adults in West Virginia. These individuals must now meet a work requirement of 20 hours a week or be enrolled in a work or education-related training program to continue receiving food assistance. Those who do not meet these requirements will cease to be eligible for benefits after three months.

 

The West Virginia Department for Health and Human Resources announced a change today (Monday) in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. As of January 1, 2016, able-bodied adults without dependents in nine West Virginia counties must meet a work or education requirement in order to continue receiving SNAP benefits.

To avoid losing their benefits, SNAP recipients ages 18-49 with no dependent children need to either work or be in an educational program for 20 hours a week, every week.

Kara Lofton / WVPB

Google colorectal cancer survival rates and a rather shocking American Cancer Society chart pops up.

Kara Lofton / WVPB

The most common way children are exposed to lead these days is from the lead-based paint almost universally found in homes built before 1980. (Lead-based paint was outlawed in the late ’70s.)

When the paint deteriorates and chips, it causes dust particles that can be inhaled or even eaten (think slobbery teething toy belonging to a 10-month-old on the floor next to an old baseboard covered in lead-based paint).

Human papillomavirus, more commonly called HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, affecting about 1 in 4 Americans. The HPV virus can cause cervical cancer, of which West Virginia has the highest incidence rate in the country.

The Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with the carbon material and chemical company Koppers Inc. The settlement is aimed at preventing oil spills into the Ohio River from the company’s Follansbee facility in Brooke County. The river provides drinking water to 5 million people and is widely used for recreation. 

Make the Call WV

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the launch of a smartphone app and website designed to help West Virginians fight drug addiction.

The app and website are intended to be companions to the already existing website Help 4 WV. Both new platforms connect people with substance abuse and mental health resources in their immediate area.  

“One of the biggest challenges that we’ve seen as part of the reduction of demand for opiates - either prescription opiates or heroin - is getting the resources to the people who need them when they need them.”

Dollar Photo Club

West Virginia has the highest rate of youth drug overdose deaths in the country, according to a new national report.

The study, produced by the non-profit Trust for America’s Health, found that nationwide, youth drug overdose deaths have more than doubled among people aged 12-25.

CT Scan
beodao / Dollar Photo Club

  In an effort to catch lung cancer earlier and in more people, Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) has begun a lung cancer screening program. Lung cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in West Virginia, according to the West Virginia Cancer Registry.

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