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 WVU Medicine, Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.

Health, doctor, nurse, mask, breathing, health insurance
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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.

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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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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued new depression screening recommendations that focus on pregnant and postpartum women.

The report was published earlier this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It updates 2009 recommendations for adult depression screenings.

"Pregnant women are a vulnerable population especially in the postpartum period," said Doctor Leo Brancazio, chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Photo courtesy of Joe Beckett

Dr. Joseph Beckett, Director of Marshall University’s athletic training program, is the only West Virginian to be awarded the Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award from the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Trainers’ Association for 2016.

The MAATA District includes universities and organizations in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Mentalhealthfirstaid.org / Mental Health First Aid USA

You may have heard about the August 2015 Philippi school shooting that never was. A state trooper and a pastor talked a boy who had taken his class hostage into surrendering his weapon. No one was harmed.

In a way, the experience was a success - an affirmation that school violence can be prevented. At least that’s the hope of Project AWARE, a federal grant awarded to three West Virginia counties last year. This is the first year of implementation.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Federal funds are heading to a Mingo County health center to support health care options and expand access to care.

U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin announced the nearly 350 thousand dollar grant for the Williamson Health and Wellness Center in Mingo County Thursday.

The funds were awarded through the Health Center Cluster Grant Program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to a press release.

Cabell Huntington Health Department
Clark Davis / WV Public Broadcasting

The Executive Council for the West Virginia Association of Local Health Departments met Wednesday to discuss the effects of the proposed $4 million in funding cuts to local public health services for fiscal year 2017 as outlined in Governor Tomblin’s budget proposal to the legislature last week.

Image composite by Mountain Messenger

Marshall and West Virginia universities have partnered to support health-related research projects through a new grant program. Each university has pledged $250,000 a year for three years, which will eventually total $1.5 million.

The grant program, which was announced in August, is designed to support research to “better serve West Virginians,” and to attract future funding from outside sources, according to a Wednesday press release. 

Kara Lofton / WVPB

Of the 718 public schools in West Virginia, 129 have school-based health centers (although note that some elementary/middle or middle/high schools share a center). Just over 30 percent of those, including Riverside High School in Belle, have mental health services.

“I think it’s [the mental health services] a good thing because a lot of teenagers struggle with depression or something wrong with them - they think that - especially in adolescence, the way the brain develops and all that stuff,” said Lillian Steel-Thomas, a senior at Riverside.

Naloxone Prescriptions Prove Hard to Come By

Jan 18, 2016
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Along with a needle exchange program in Huntington for users who can’t kick their heroin addiction, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department is offering a certification class for a potentially life-saving drug Naloxone. However, some doctors are hesitant to prescribe the opioid overdose blocker.

The Catholic Committee of Appalachia just published a pastoral letter. It’s the third of its kind. Forty years ago the first was written and acclaimed as “one of the most significant statements to emerge from the U.S. Catholic Church,” according to the West Virginia Encyclopedia.

Office of National Drug Control Policy

Five Appalachian counties were designated as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas today, including Jefferson County, West Virginia. The designation allows the counties to receive federal resources to improve drug control and reduce illicit use.

High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs) are defined as areas determined to be critical drug trafficking regions in the U.S., according to a news release from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. There are 28 HIDTAs across the country, and each includes several counties.

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The West Virginia House of Delegates approved a resolution Wednesday setting up a committee to tackle substance abuse issues in the state.

On the first day of the 2016 session, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed House Resolution 3, creating the Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse.

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wikimedia / Wikimedia

 According to the West Virginia Supreme Court, the McDowell County Adult Drug Court will hold its opening ceremony at noon Friday. The event will be held in McDowell County Circuit Judge Booker T. Stephens' courtroom.

Stephens will speak, along with state Supreme Court Justice Brent D. Benjamin and Mike B. Lacy, director of West Virginia Probation Services.

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.

 

Daniel Walker/WVPB

In 2013, the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice launched a program called Handle With Care. The collaborative  program is meant to help children who’ve experienced abuse, neglect or other types of trauma succeed in school. The program that started on the West Side of Charleston is now expanding across the state and in other communities across the nation.

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Hendrike / wikimedia Commons

Former West Virginia State University basketball player Kendrick Leon Ward will spend two years in prison for distributing heroin.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says Ward sold heroin to a confidential informant near a dormitory on West Virginia State's campus in Institute in 2013. The 25-year-old Oak Park, Michigan, resident pleaded guilty in September to distributing heroin within 1,000 feet of school property.

Goodwin says in a news release that Ward was sentenced on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston.

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