Appalachia Health News

Appalachia Health News' goal is to increase awareness of health issues throughout the region. 

  Reporter Kara Leigh Lofton will be covering topics such as women’s health, chronic disease and substance abuse.

Her reports will document the health-related innovation, improvement and success within the Appalachian region.

Follow her on twitter at @KaraLofton and #Appalachiahealth

Appalachia Health News is produced with support from the Claude Worthington Benedum FoundationCAMC, and WVU Medicine.

Del. Don Perdue, Delegate Don Perdue
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Seven bills were up for passage in the House Wednesday, including one that would give pregnant women in the state priority for substance abuse treatment.

We all know West Virginia has a huge substance abuse problem; one of the worst in the nation. So lawmakers are considering measures to address it.

School Lunch Line
Slick-o-bot / Wikimedia Commons

A national nonprofit that advocates for federal food programs released its School Breakfast Scorecard today. West Virginia sits at the top.

The School Breakfast Scorecard ranks states on their rate of participation of low-income children in the federally-funded School Breakfast program. West Virginia topped the list for the last school year, while Utah is at the bottom.

401(K) 2012 / www.401kcalculator.org

The West Virginia Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities has announced funding opportunities for the expansion of some health services across the state.

Swimmerguy269 / wikimedia Commons

  West Virginia University office of wellness and health promotion has launched a Collegiate Recovery Program to offer addiction and recovery support to students.

The goal of the program is to connect college students who are seeking recovery from substance abuse and addictive behaviors to peer-support and services.

Dollar Photo Club

School-based fluoride rinse programs have been available to West Virginia schools for decades. Advocates argue they are still one of the cheapest and most effective tools schools have for preventing tooth decay. However, they are not well utilized. Recently, the Bureau for Public Health, which funds these programs, has begun a push to get more schools to take advantage of them.

At Mount Hope Elementary School in Fayette County, health educator Rosalie McCauley passes out toothbrushes and plastic cups of bubblegum-flavored fluoride mouth rinse to students.

Zika, United States, Mosquitos, virus, Appalachia
Dollar Photo Club

While West Virginia continues to be free of the Zika virus, the Appalachian states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Alabama and Georgia have all reported cases. The virus is spread through mosquitoes and was first dectected in South America.

Breast, Breast Cancer, Cancer, surgery, pink, pink ribbon
Dollar Photo Club

West Virginia University Cancer Institute has become the first hospital in the state to offer a specialized breast cancer treatment that can shave weeks off treatment time for some patients.

The treatment is called Intraoperative Radiation Therapy. This is how it works: Directly after surgery to remove the cancerous lump, a radiation applicator is inserted directly into the cavity previously occupied by the tumor. Specialists then apply concentrated radiation to the area. Surgery and radiation are completed in one visit.

Dollar Photo Club

Representatives from 37 citizen groups fighting for “water justice” met Tuesday at the Capitol to release a letter of solidarity with Flint, Michigan.

The letter, dated February 9th, parallels the 2014 West Virginia Water Crisis with the water crisis currently unfolding in Flint.

Dollar Photo Club

West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina have issued advisories for the Zika virus, urging caution, particularly for pregnant women traveling to areas where the disease is circulating.

WVPB

Two central Appalachian healthcare non-profits, out of eleven nationwide, were awarded grants of about 180,000 each today from AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation. The grants are intended to support already successful work in improving regional cardiovascular health. 

Sick, woman, pregnancy, thermometer, fever, flu, cold
Dollar Photo Club

Pregnant women hospitalized with the flu, especially severe cases, should be treated early with antiviral medication, according to a study published today in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The study included 865 pregnant women who were hospitalized with flu from 14 states. Sixty-three of these patients, or about 7 percent, had severe illness.

Dollar Photo Club

A report released today from Families USA found that West Virginia has one of the most successful Medicaid expansion programs in the country.

The report used U.S. Census data to compare the rate of uninsured workers in all 50 states during 2014, the first year Medicaid expansion was offered. It found that West Virginia had reduced uninsured worker rates by 30 percent – 5 points higher than the expanded Medicaid state average. Non-expansion states reduced their uninsured worker rates by 13 percent on average.

Mayor Williams, Michael Kilkenny
Clark Davis / WV Public Broadcasting

The Huntington area has consistently been at the forefront of the state’s fight against drug abuse and overdose deaths. One of the biggest issues to emerge in that fight is the availability of the opioid blocker Naloxone. The Cabell-Huntington Health Department made an announcement Wednesday that could change things.

State officials say Cabell County reported 900 overdoses in 2015, with 70 deaths.

Lyme, tick, Lyme disease, IDSA, infectious disease, WVU
Dollar Photo Club

In June of 2007, Victoria Snyder, then age-nine, attended a week-long church camp. During the week she began to feel sick – muscle aches, lethargy, headaches. A doctor at the camp thought it might be the flu, but she didn’t get better. So after camp, her mother, Christine, took her to see a pediatrician.

“The pediatrician found a bullseye ring on her stomach,” said Christine. “I felt a lot of relief when they put her on antibiotics because with Lyme disease, we knew what we were dealing with.”

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

The second phase of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administrations landmark rule that’s meant to prevent black lung disease, took effect this month. Among other requirements for companies, coal miners basically will be required to wear personal dust monitors.

Health, doctor, nurse, mask, breathing, health insurance
Dollar Photo Club

The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health announced legislation today that, if passed, could modernize the state’s public health system and increase revenue.

The proposed legislation would make it easier for local health department to bill insurance companies at the maximum allowable rates. 

Currently, the state subsidizes many local programs and services. In a Tuesday press conference, Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health Rahul Gupta said that this model is unsustainable - especially considering that more WV residents than ever before are insured.

Dollar Photo Club

The Local Foods, Local Places partnership is a yearly federal award to communities around the country to help integrate local food strategies into economic development efforts. The award was given to six Appalachian communities in 2016, including one in West Virginia.

The initiative started in 2014 as part of the White House Rural Council’s work to support communities that want to make local foods a stronger part of the local economy. There are now 60 Local Foods, Local Places partnerships across the country. More than a third are in Appalachia, including four in West Virginia.

Kara Lofton / WVPB

The West Virginia National Guard’s Medical Detachment conducted their annual recertification for army medics today at the Center for National Readiness Memorial Tunnel.

Community members met in Ohio County this week to talk about developing a program that would allow non-professionals to administer life-saving drugs to someone overdosing on pain pills or heroin. A similar program began in the Eastern Panhandle in September, and organizers report it’s already saving lives.


Medics, CNR Tunnel, Army, Training
Kara Lofton / WV Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia National Guard’s Medical Detachment conducted their annual recertification for army medics this morning at the Center for National Readiness Memorial Tunnel.

In addition to a written test, the medics were required to complete seven training exercises, which varied from attending to victims of a car crash to evacuating soldiers from combat. 32 medics, four of them women, participated in the training.

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