Appalachia Health News

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

Kara Leigh Lofton

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 Foundation, CAMC, and WVU Medicine.

WV DHHR

Gov. Jim Justice says he'll veto legislation to sell Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley, saying the sale of state medical facilities must be part of a comprehensive plan.

Labor Gains: From Horseback to Hospitals

Jun 23, 2017
Mary Meehan

Dressed in crisp blue scrubs, Certified Nurse Midwife JoAnne Burris walks briskly, the click of her sensible clogs a counterpoint to smooth jazz in the hall.

The UK Midwife Clinic with large, color prints of newborns on the earth-tone walls, still has that new furniture smell. But word-of-mouth already has the waiting room full.

Inside Exam Room 3 Emily and Johnathan Robertson wait to hear their baby’s heartbeat.

And there it is the echoing “whoosh, ump, whoosh, ump, whoosh ump” of a strong fetal heart. “Best part of the appointment,” Burris said, “every time.”

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Last year, Richwood Middle and High School were damaged beyond repair in historic flooding and the schools moved into temporary spaces for the 2016-’17 school year.

But when the schools moved, the kids didn’t just lose their buildings, they also lost their school-based health center. Now  a bureaucratic quagmire may prevent the middle school families from having a center next year.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Analysis released this week found West Virginia could be one the most negatively impacted states in the country if Congress passes the House health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.  The health policy think tank Kaiser Family Foundation reports reductions in Medicaid or block grant financing would be especially harmful to communities in West Virginia and ten other states.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia University Medicine is taking a closer look at a little-known approach to cancer treatment called narrative medicine with the aim of improving the treatment experience for doctors and patients alike.

The idea with narrative medicine is that if doctors get to know patients through their life stories, the physicians will be able to improve their ability to care for their patients, beyond simply managing symptoms.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Gov. Jim Justice is pushing a slightly tweaked tax reform and budget plan at the Capitol. The governor held a press conference to share the concessions he says he’s made in the proposal that aims to lower the state’s personal income tax and increase the consumer sales tax rates.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two major non-partisan research groups released a study this week about the impact of Medicaid on children, families and communities in small-town, rural America.

“For the country as a whole we found that the role of Medicaid and CHIP in reducing the rate of insurance for kids and adults is even more important in rural areas and small towns,” said Joan Alker during a press conference at Riverside High School in Belle. “It’s disproportionately important to these communities.”

Photo illustration courtesy Kentucky Hospital Association

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report Tuesday, June 6, saying the GOP House health bill would negatively impact Medicaid expansion by shifting costs to states -- a move the CBPP said would harm millions, regardless of timing.

Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, elderly, couple, worried
Dollar Photo Club

Last year we ran a story about the shortage of geriatricians in West Virginia. In it, we featured Todd Goldberg, the only full-time geriatrician in Charleston and head of the West Virginia University geriatrics fellowship program.

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

The Cancer Action Network -  the American Cancer Society's lobbying arm - is urging governors across the country, including West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, to voice concerns with the House-passed American health Care Act. They released a letter directed to all U.S. governors yesterday.

The group is particularly concerned with the legislation’s proposal to dramatically reduce funding to Medicaid – a move that would disproportionately affect poor states that expanded the program like West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we'll from the statehouse, where a special session of the Legislature resumed Monday morning. Gov. Jim Justice met with House Democrats about his tax reform proposal for several hours on Monday.

We'll also hear a conversation between Appalachia Health News Coordinator Kara Lofton and Charleston geriatrician Todd Goldberg, who is preparing to leave the state.

NIHCM Foundation

A new study published this month by the National Institute of Health Care Management found that from 2006-2015, out-of-pocket spending on health care increased 24 percent while median personal income increased only 17 percent.

The study tracked health care spending across all sectors of the health care system.

Researchers found that health care costs are on the rise across the country and everyone is bearing the burden, not just patients, but also hospitals and insurance companies.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In 2015, the Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Outpatient Clinic was closed after staff found issues with air quality at the old facility. The clinic was later moved to temporary trailers. Now, almost two years later, a permanent veteran’s out-patient clinic has opened. The clinic will serve more than 1,200 veterans from Greenbrier, Monroe, Pocahontas, and Summers counties, along with Alleghany County, Virginia.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

If you live near a mining site – either old or active - is your health at risk? That’s what a committee from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine is trying to find out.

 

Medals, Medallions, Harpers Ferry
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

There’s a group based in Jefferson County, West Virginia focused not only on improving health and wellness but also on incorporating the local community and history into that health experience.

Trump Administration’s Addiction Crisis ‘Listening Tour’ Gets An Earful

May 19, 2017
HHS Sec. Tom Price speaking at a press conference at the state Capitol.
Ashton Marra / WVPB

Trump administration officials have been visiting parts of the country affected by the opioid addiction crisis, including the Ohio Valley region. The administration called it a “listening tour,” and they got an earful in events marked by protests and controversies.

courtesy Martinsburg VA Medical Center

West Virginia veterans earned over 30 medals last week at the national Golden Age Games. The competition is an athletic training program for veterans 55 years old or older and is designed to help veterans lose weight and become more physically fit.

About 800 veterans competed in the Golden Age Games competition in Biloxi, Mississippi May 7-11. Veterans from the Martinsburg VA Medical Center won medals in running, swimming, badminton, shot put and bicycling. Judi Roberts, from Martinsburg won first place in the discus competition.

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

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act – a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. All three of West Virginia’s representatives supported the bill, but ACA supporters, including the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, are concerned the bill will harm rural Americans.

Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs / http://www.clarksburg.va.gov/

Veterans who receive care from the Clarksburg VA medical center lead the nation in a program that prevents drug overdose deaths. The program distributes Naloxone rescue kits to veterans who are at risk of overdose. Many of the kits have been used by veterans to save civilians who may have otherwise overdosed from opioids.

Veterans returning from combat often struggle with chronic pain and/or mental illness, and many are taking multiple medications. When combined… or when alcohol or non-prescribed drugs are also taken, these drugs can lead to a deadly overdose.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Trump-backed healthcare bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Joe Manchin believes the bill has major issues and will likely move slowly through the U.S. Senate.

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