Health & Science

Dave Foster / West Virginia Rural Water Association

It’s been happening for years - water systems are slowly coming to a breaking point. The next episode of Inside Appalachia explores one legacy of the coal mining industry - crumbling water infrastructure.

Dona Wells walked through what’s left of the EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. Boxes fill what use to be offices. Sterilized medical supplies are in disarray. A light flickers on and off in the back hallway. She doesn’t see a point in fixing it. At 75, she still runs 25 miles a week, but Wells is tired.

“I was going to retire anyway, probably this year,” she said. But I wanted to do it on my terms, not Gov. Bevin’s terms.”

The chemical giant DuPont made an offer Monday to pay more than half-a-billion dollars to settle water contamination lawsuits pending in federal court.


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

Feb 4, 2017
Pregnant, woman, profile
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.”

Marshall County
Wikimedia / wikimedia

A medical helicopter base is planned this year in Marshall County to serve area patients.

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register reports officials made the announcement Thursday.

Hollyanne Haeder, Simon Haeder, Haeder
Simon Haeder

Childcare costs are high no matter where you are in the country. But in West Virginia, it's even worse - according to a 2016 report by the think tank New America and Care.com, parents in the Mountain State shoulder the highest cost burden, spending about 45 percent of the state's median household income on childcare.

pills
Wikimedia Commons

A West Virginia Board of Pharmacy report says a prescription drug used to treat nerve pain is contributing to a sharp increase of overdose deaths in the state.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the number of fatal overdoses involving gabapentin in West Virginia jumped from three in 2010 to 109 in 2015. The number of 2016 deaths are still being counted.

AP images

Two nominees for the new administration who could have a lot of influence in our region will be on Capitol Hill this week.  President-elect Donald Trump’s choices for secretary of commerce and the  Environmental Protection Agency both have confirmation hearings in the Senate.

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

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

CAFEE, natural gas, methane, vehicle, car
West Virginia University


A study released today by the Center for Alternative Fuels Engines and Emissions at West Virginia University examines data collected on methane emissions of natural gas engines from "pump-to-wheel," meaning from natural gas fueling stations and heavy-duty vehicles themselves. 

Flood, Clendenin
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A National Weather Service meteorologist called it a "1-in-1,000-year" storm. By the time it was over, 23 West Virginians were dead.

Flooding that ravaged the state in late June was voted the No. 1 news story in 2016 in West Virginia by Associated Press member newspapers and broadcasters.

W.Va. Settling Drug Suit Against 2 More Distributors

Dec 28, 2016
Hydrocodone pills
Toby Talbot / AP

Two major prescription drug distributors have agreed to settle a West Virginia lawsuit alleging they fueled West Virginia's opioid epidemic with excessively large shipments of painkillers into the state over several years.

 

Boone County Circuit Court Judge William Thompson disclosed the “settlement in principle” in an order Tuesday cancelling further proceedings.

BRNI
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. 

DuPont's Washington Works
Parkersburg News & Sentinel

The third case of some 3500 against the chemical company DuPont reached an initial verdict today. The case stems from the company’s widespread water contamination with a chemical known as C8.


The Branham Family
Benny Becker / Ohio Valley ReSource

At the age of 38, a coal miner named Mackie Branham Jr. was diagnosed with progressive massive fibrosis, a debilitating and terminal form of an illness that was supposed to be a disease of the past — black lung. But Branham is among many the miners afflicted by a resurgence in the disease, and officials are just beginning to realize the scope of the problem. A review of health clinic records shows roughly a thousand such cases, many times more than federal officials had thought existed.

The creek where the WVU Stream Lab team dropped their sensors. Save the Tygart Watershed Association has been keeping tabs on the waterway since before the coal slurry pond was installed nearby.
Colleen S. Good / WVU Stream Lab Project

A federal rule announced this week is designed to reduce the environmental impact of coal mining. It’s getting sharp criticism from politicians across coal country, while environmental groups are applauding the effort.

Benny Becker/Ohio Valley ReSource

NPR revealed this week that more coal miners in Appalachia are suffering from black lung than National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports. Inside Appalachia Host Jessica Lilly spoke with NPR investigative reporter Howard Berkes about the points raised in his report.


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says his office is allocating $1.3 million to bolster residential drug treatment facilities for women, increase detox beds for young people and adults and help law enforcement agencies stop drug diversion.

Doctor Exam Room
Michelleevalenzuela / wikimedia commons

A new report says Charleston, West Virginia had the second highest rate of diabetes last year out of nearly 200 communities surveyed across the nation.

A Gallup-Healthways report released Wednesday says 17.6 percent of adults in Charleston in 2015 had diabetes. Of the 190 communities studied, only Mobile, Alabama had a marginally worse rate of 17.7 percent.

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Dollar Photo Club

Almost 8,000 West Virginians signed up for healthcare during the first month of Open Enrollment under the federal Affordable Care Act this year.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell visited Charleston today to voice support for the Affordable Care Act.

Doctor Patient Health Care Coverage
Fæ / wikimedia commons

Federal health Secretary Sylvia Burwell plans to join a discussion in her native West Virginia on the federal health law that expanded insurance coverage to 165,000 residents.

The Affordable Care Act is a signature Obama administration initiative that president-elect Donald Trump has vowed to at least partly roll back.

obesity
kwanchaichaiudom / Dollar Photo Club

Obesity rates among West Virginia children in low-income families have increased by 2 percent from 2010 to 2014.

West Virginia's obesity rate among young children from low-income families increased from 14.4 percent in 2010 to 16.4 percent in 2014, according to the national Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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

Although the recent presidential election has raised questions about the Affordable Care Act’s future, West Virginia University says it will continue to operate the West Virginia Healthy Start Navigator Project. The program helps people in northern West Virginia sign up for health insurance under the ACA.

Dan Carder, Volkswagen Scandal
West Virginia University

Last fall, Dan Carder's cell phone started ringing off the hook. The area codes hailed from major U.S. cities. At the time, Carder was working in his lab at West Virginia University, where he is the director of the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (CAFEE). Annoyed with phone calls, he finally picked up. The reporter on the line, sensing that Carder had no idea that he had broken international news, advised Carder to Google himself. 

Hendrix, Mary Hendrix, Shepherd University, West Virginia University, Cancer Research
Shepherd University

The new president of Shepherd University is partnering with West Virginia University to continue her cancer cell research, and she’s allowing students to watch her work as it’s happening.

Cabin Creek Health Center
freeclinics.com

A Kanawha County clinic is participating in a pilot program to screen patients for lung cancer.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the American Cancer Society is overseeing the three-year project with support from a $1.25 million grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation's Bridging Cancer Care initiative.

Dollar Photo Club

Shepherd University is partnering with Berkeley County Schools and the Martinsburg Police Department to help combat opioid addiction. A new initiative hopes to identify basic causes of drug abuse in at-risk families.

Jess Mador / WOUT/Truckbeat

Kristina “Breezy” Weaver  lives in Wyoming County, which has one of the highest drug overdose death rates in a state that leads the country in drug overdose deaths. Last June, Weaver’s father died of a heroin overdose.

courtesy

For a generation of Appalachians, growing up with a parent addicted or abusing drugs is a way of life. Kristina Weaver, or Breezie, grew up in southern West Virginia with a loving family and father who struggled with addiction. Her father, David Siers, died in June of 2015 of a heroin overdose.


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