Appalachia Health News

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Most Americans say they want to die at home. But without the right paperwork, many end up living out their final days in institutions or hospitals. The West Virginia e-Directive Registry is trying to change that.

The e-Directive Registry includes advanced directives, living wills, medical orders and Do Not Resuscitate cards. These documents help medical providers understand West Virginians’ end-of-life wishes, including where participants want to die and what kind of treatment they want in their last days of life. 

Jessica Lilly

The coal industry has done a lot for central Appalachia. It’s created jobs, and it’s helped many families afford college. Coal has also created a  very strong sense of pride. But as jobs in the coal industry have declined, so have the opportunities in Central  Appalachia. On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we explore one of the legacies of of the industry: crumbling water infrastructure.

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Although Congress hasn't presented the American public with a clear replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act – the ideas proposed so far are unlikely to make coverage more affordable or allow everyone who has coverage now to keep it. Uncertainty surrounding the ACA is also making it difficult for health plans to stay in the marketplace because they don’t know how to price their plans for next year.

But as members of Congress left Washington today for their February recess, Republicans made it clear they still intend to repeal the ACA.

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If you have a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield plan that you bought through the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces, you should know there is a change this year that might save you some money.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, the latest news from the West Virginia Legislature and Appalachian Health News reporter Kara Lofton talks with president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield about a change in their hospital policies.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

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Low birth weight is traditionally associated with physical problems such as difficulty breathing, developmental delays or hearing problems in children as they grow. But new research published in the journal Psychological Bulletin found that babies born with extremely low birth weights are at an increased risk for specific mental health problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder, anxiety, depression and shyness, beginning in childhood and extending at least into their 30s.

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Most Americans say they want to die at home when the time comes. But a new study suggests that the more obese someone is, the less likely they are to achieve that goal.

The study was published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine and looked at the records of more than 5,600 senior citizens taking part in a long-term health study. The researchers looked at how body mass index – a measure of obesity – impacted use of and access to end-of-life services like hospice. hospice provides support to people in their final months of life – usually in their own home.

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Studies have found that strengthening the quadriceps – or thigh muscles – may help prevent knee osteoarthritis. But a new study has found that how fast the quadricep muscle is able to generate force – for example pushing the leg out – may impact knee osteoarthritis too.

More than a third of West Virginian adults report experiencing arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Evzio Naloxone Auto-injector
Clark Davis / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Department of Health and Human Resources has begun a distributing naloxone statewide in hopes of preventing opioid overdose deaths and increasing access to the medication.

 

Born Addicted: The Race To Treat The Ohio Valley’s Drug-Affected Babies

Feb 4, 2017
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John Ted Dagatano

She asked to not be identified. And it’s understandable given the stigma attached to addiction. For this story, we’ll call her “Mary.”

Mary lives in eastern Kentucky and has struggled with an addiction that began with painkillers and progressed to heroin.

“As soon as I opened my eyes, I had to get it,” Mary said. “And even when I did get it, then I had to think of the next way that I was going to get.”

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A new study has found that couples in which both partners are obese may take more than 50 percent longer to become pregnant than couples who aren't obese.

Last week, doctors at Mon General Hospital performed a new hybrid procedure to correct irregular heartbeats – called atrial fibrillation – in a 71-year old patient. The surgery was the first of its kind performed in West Virginia.

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Today is the last day to enroll in or change a 2017 insurance plan through the federal healthcare marketplace. But if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, this may be the last time people can sign up for insurance through the marketplace.

In 2016, more than 37,000 West Virginians signed up for health insurance through the ACA marketplaces. Nationwide, enrollment numbers for 2017 are up slightly from 2016 numbers – despite promises from President Trump to repeal the healthcare law.

Patricia Harman is the author of the bestselling novel The Midwife of Hope River. We last heard from her during our April, 2016 Inside Appalachia episode on home birth. Harman's latest book – the Runaway Midwife – was released today. Kara Lofton talked with Harman about how more than three decades of work as a midwife informs her writing today.  

On Being a Midwife

"One of the things about midwives is similar to a solider or someone in combat we're right on the border between life and death and I think that makes for a great hero."

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A CDC study released earlier this month found that rural Americans are dying at a higher rate from potentially preventable diseases than their urban counterpoints.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study looked at the five leading causes of death from potentially preventable diseases. They are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke. The study found that the percentages of deaths from these five diseases were higher in rural areas than urban areas.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

President Trump is four days into his first term and already has made big moves to repeal former President Obama’s signature healthcare law. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act – also called Obamacare - has the potential to affect millions of Americans. In this audio postcard, three West Virginians – a former chair of the House health committee, a college student and a small business owner – talk about how they are feeling about their healthcare coming into an era of Trump.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic in Scarbro, oxygen tubes dangle from the noses of three miners slowly pedaling on stationary bikes.  All of these men have black lung – a disease caused by breathing in coal dust. Over time, the dust coats the lungs and causes them to harden. Hard lungs don’t easily expand and contract, and that makes it difficult to breath.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Appalachia Health News reporter Kara Lofton looks at the Affordable Care Act and how the law makes it easier for coal miners to receive black lung benefits and Clark Davis talks with Huntington native Griffin McElroy who’s been named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list for media.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

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Latest enrollment figures show that 32,855 West Virginians signed up for 2017 coverage under the Affordable Care Act as of Dec. 24, 2016. 

Steve Helber / Associated Press

During his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act – a move many West Virginians say they support after facing rising premiums and deductibles.  But a repeal without a replacement plan could be disastrous for the millions of Americans who have gained health insurance under the law, including 173,000 West Virginians newly covered under Medicaid expansion and 37,000 who have bought private insurance plans through the Marketplace. And Republicans have yet to release a replacement plan.

 

 

Elk River
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Monday marks the third anniversary of the Elk River chemical spill that left more than 300,000 West Virginians without usable drinking water for more than a week.  The leak  originated at Freedom Industries just outside of Charleston.

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Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Sitting on top of the Bible on Pastor Brad Epperson’s desk at the Clay City First Church of God is a list of goals for his small congregation written in a looping cursive hand.

“Our community ought to see the love of God in us, not just by our understanding of a compassionate Gospel, but our public acts of love,” is near the top.

Epperson was born and raised in Powell County in the mountains of eastern Kentucky.

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President Obama met with Senate Democrats today to discuss strategies to save his signature health care law. Meanwhile Senate Republicans have already introduced a budget resolution that would unravel large pieces of the Affordable Care Act with a majority vote.

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A recent study published in the international pain journal PAIN has found that patients with pre-existing psychiatric and behavioral conditions may be more likely to use opioids later in life.

Researchers used a national insurance database to identify 10.3 million patents who filed insurance claims for opioid prescriptions over a nine-year period. Researchers wanted to see if pre-existing psychiatric conditions and use of psychoactive medications were predictors of later opioid use.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Ten tiny homes lined up in two rows at the National Guard air base in Charleston recently. West Virginia high school students built the homes for victims of the June, 2016, historic flooding who were still struggling to find adequate housing.

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Anne Li / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In the decade-long court case William K. Stern, et al. vs. Chemtall, Inc., et al., workers in coal preparation and wastewater treatment sought medical monitoring for the potential increase of neurological problems caused by exposure to hazardous materials used in their jobs.

As part of the $13.95 million settlement, workers can now use a free health monitoring program. About $6 million went to plaintiffs' attorneys, according to the West Virginia Record. The legal teams decided that the remaining roughly $6 million should be divided equally between the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute at West Virginia University and the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health at Marshall University. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, experts say recovering gambling addicts are in danger of relapsing during the holidays.  Appalachia Health news reporter Kara Lofton has that story and we’ll hear some of the latest poetry from West Virginia’s poet laureate Marc Harshman.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

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Gambling has many of the same symptoms as other addictions, including the urge to continue the behavior despite negative consequences, but it’s different in one key way.

 

 

“With problem gambling, sometimes people see the problem as the solution,” said Sheila Moran, director of marketing for the helpline 1-800-Gambler.

 

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As a Facebook friend of mine recently put it “I doubt it is too far off to believe that in the last few weeks I have consumed the same amount of sugar (if not more) that people a few centuries ago would get in their entire lifetime.”

 

But seriously. Holidays these days often equals eating lots of sugary treats. And eating lots of sugary treats sometimes spells weight gain for holiday revelers.   

State Officials and Friends Remember Ken Hechler

Dec 20, 2016
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, we hear some of the tributes given yesterday during a funeral service for statesman Ken Hechler and we’ll meet another inspiring West Virginian.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

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