Health & Science

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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.

Opiate Addiction Sometimes Begins in the Womb

Nov 24, 2015
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Neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS as it’s known in the medical community, is yet another problem that stems from the heroin epidemic ravaging West Virginia. NAS occurs in newborns exposed to opiates while still in the womb. When they’re born, they feel the full effects of withdrawal.

Health care professionals are now trying to come up with ways to track and deal with the problem more effectively.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Nov. 20 marks the anniversary of the 1968 Farmington Mine Disaster, which killed 78 men. It was the worst U.S. mine disaster in 50 years. On Sunday, a crowd of about 150 people gathered at the memorial of the Farmington Mine Disaster.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two weeks after President Obama’s visit to West Virginia, aimed at putting the spotlight on substance abuse issues across the country, the state’s leaders are still talking about ways to combat the issue.

At a forum in Martinsburg, Governor Tomblin met with those struggling with the disease and others trying to provide assistance in the Eastern Panhandle.

National Governors Association

With President Obama’s visit to Charleston just two short weeks ago, people and organizations across the state have responded to the President’s call to fight drugs and overdose deaths in West Virginia.

On Wednesday, Governor Tomblin continues this fight and travels to Martinsburg to host a summit with law enforcement and the community on substance abuse in the area.

Doctor Patient Health Care Coverage
Fæ / wikimedia commons

Acuity Specialty Hospital Ohio Valley plans a $1 million expansion of its long-term acute care facility in Wheeling.

The West Virginia Health Care Authority has issued a certificate of need for the project. The certificate allows Acuity to add 16 beds to its 13-bed facility within Wheeling Hospital.

A date for the expansion hasn't been set. Acuity director Joe Garcuccio told The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register that the project is in the planning stage.

Gabrielle Marshall

A group of students from the University of Notre Dame just came to West Virginia for fall break. Instead of relaxing with friends, as many college students do, these guys got a taste of life in a food desert.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University hosted a panel discussion this week about the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. The new rule seeks to reduce carbon emissions in the US by 37 percent by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The MBA program at Shepherd University hosted a panel discussion in Martinsburg Wednesday night that drew in a large crowd. The topic – the Affordable Care Act. The goal of the discussion was to look at the good, the bad, and the unknown and discuss how it directly affects West Virginians.

Dozens of people attended the event at the historic McFarland House in Martinsburg. Like most controversial pieces of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, has received plenty of attention since it was first enacted in 2010 – good and bad.

West Virginia is struggling to keep up with the demand for treatment options for recovering addicts and if you’re a woman needing help, those options are even more scarce. Including co-ed, women and children, there are a total of 269 recovery beds for women, according the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services (DHHR).

Jessica Lilly

Prosecutors continued to call witnesses on the tenth day of the trial against former Massey Energy CEO, Don Blankenship. Prosecutor Steve Ruby picked back up with questioning of Mine Safety and Health inspector Keith McElroy. McElroy was one of the investigators of the Upper Big Branch Mine Explosion that killed 29 men.

Sharon Shlomo / PikiWiki

On Friday and Saturday, the Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Moorefield will host the first Ag Tech Showcase event in the state.

The goal of the new showcase is to explore the benefits new and emerging technologies could offer small and medium-sized farms.

courtesy of Mike Breiding

Researchers at West Virginia University are looking for clues about West Virginia's climate history -- by combing through old journals of naturalists who spent time in the state's forests and hills.

Stream Lab
@hunterguire via Twitter

West Virginia is no stranger to issues surrounding water quality. In recent years, reports on the effects of acid mine drainage and the questioned safety of fracking waste have made headlines. 

Andy Todd

Food deserts: it’s more than just an urban issue. Hey, we all have to eat. This week, we’re bringing you an encore presentation from the Inside Appalachia archives about Appalachian food deserts.  In Appalachia, where green forests grow abundantly, food is scarce for many. Throughout Appalachia, grocery stores are disappearing. This week on Inside Appalachia we're looking at some ways communities are resolving to take matters in their own hands.

Drill cuttings dumped at West Virginia landfill.
Bill Hughes

There are lots of federal regulations governing what businesses can legally dump into water, the ground, or release into the air. But the gas industry is getting around a lot of those regulations. The oil and gas industry enjoys exemptions from seven federal laws, including one that is supposed to protect human health from the hazards of waste disposal. Other states have passed their own laws regulating this waste to compensate. But it’s a looser system in West Virginia.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and Charleston Police Chief Brent Walker.
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Booth Goodwin brought together local first responders, state health officials and substance abuse treatment specialists Tuesday to celebrate the success he sees in his district in combating drug abuse. 

Goodwin said his office intends to continue enforcing federal laws that prohibit the sale of narcotics, but now, he and his colleagues are also focusing on the treatment side, looking at ways to curb the demand for the drugs. 

401(K) 2012 /

West Virginia public workers could face another round of health insurance benefit cuts.

Kanawha County Schools

Sixteen schools in eight West Virginia counties will share more than $12,200 in grants for sustainability projects.

Drill cuttings dumped at West Virginia landfill.
Bill Hughes

In the growing wake of the natural gas boom, West Virginia has been trying to figure out what exactly to do with waste generated by the oil and gas industry. 

artwork by Beth Crowder

This week plans for a new, almost $300 million wastewater facility were shared for the first time with community members in Doddridge County. Antero Resources announced intentions earlier this summer to build the facility, which will process and recycle wastewater produced from its natural gas drilling operations in the region.

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U.S. District Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, just announced the launch of an organized effort to combat addiction problems in Marion, Monongalia and Harrison counties: an Addiction Action Plan. It’s an extension of an initiative that began in the Northern Panhandle late last year in response to a resurgence of heroin use in the region.

Ethan Wells

 The algae that turned the waters of the Ohio River a bluish green is dissipating amid cooler temperatures and rain.

While a health advisory remains in effect, an official with the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department says the river is showing clearing and considerably less algae.

Administrator Howard Gamble told the Wheeling Intelligencer-News-Register the river continues to be monitored by several organizations, including Ohio and West Virginia environmental officials.

Madhumuzik via Wikimedia Commons

There has been a surge in the practice of using music as a medical treatment during the past 10 years. In fact, Pennsylvania has the highest number of music therapists in the country, at around 400. But there are only eight in West Virginia. A new program at West Virginia University is trying to change that.

Ethan Wells

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources' Bureau for Public Health issued a Public Health Advisory in response to the blue-green algae blooms in the Ohio River and in some of its tributaries.

water faucet

The city of Wheeling plans to boost its backup well water system's capacity by drilling two additional wells.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Center for End-of-Life Care has given first responders in the state access to its online registry.

Huntington, Ohio River
Youngamerican / Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia American Water says it has initiated a contingency plan for a temporary backup water supply to its Huntington water treatment plant in response to increasing algae blooms on the Ohio River.

The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission notified the utility last week that algae blooms had been detected on the river upstream of Huntington.

Can a Needle Exchange Program Work in Huntington?

Sep 1, 2015
Cabell Huntington Health Department
Clark Davis / WV Public Broadcasting

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department is set to make history in the state of West Virginia Wednesday, with the first needle exchange program. 

“The Teflon Toxin” is the title of a series of three investigative reports that surfaced this month. The series examines the 70-year history of DuPont and the no-stick chemical called C8 used to coat Teflon pans and other products.

A decade ago it came to light that DuPont contaminated water sources in West Virginia and Ohio with the chemical, and soon after that the chemical is toxic. The use of the C8 was phased out of production this year at DuPont’s Washington Works plant just outside Parkersburg. But this September, the first of about 3,500 personal injury claims is coming to trial.

That’s one reason the investigative series was just published.