Appalachia Health News is an ongoing series that tells the story of our health challenges and how we overcome them throughout the region. Our reporters cover topics such as women’s health, chronic disease and substance abuse, as well as documenting the health-related innovation, improvement and success within the Appalachian region.

Our Appalachia Health News Reporter is Emily Rice.

Appalachia Health News is produced with support from Marshall Health.

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Emily Rice,Jun. 21, 2024

Labor Department Announces MSHA Grants For Mine Health And Safety Education

The program that provides miners with safety and health training is eligible for more than $10 million in grants.

Emily Rice,Jun. 18, 2024

How To Stay Safe And Cool Under East Coast Heat Dome

With temperatures continuing to soar on the East Coast, experts are warning about the dangers of heat stroke.

Emily Rice,Jun. 17, 2024

Beckley VA Medical Center Chooses New Executive Director

An experienced veteran has been appointed as the new executive director of the Beckley VA Medical Center.

Emily Rice,Jun. 14, 2024

Supreme Court Abortion Pill Decision Has Little Effect In W.Va.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a challenge to the FDA’s rules for prescribing and dispensing a medication widely used in abortions.

Emily Rice,Jun. 12, 2024

Staffing Improves At State Run Hospitals

The department that oversees West Virginia’s state-run hospitals announced progress in fully staffing the facilities.

Emily Rice,Jun. 12, 2024

Child Welfare Removal: A Difficult Process For Children

Even in ideal circumstances, the removal of a child from their home by Child Protective Services is always traumatic. Emily Rice spoke with community advocates about that process and what resources children need to adapt.

Emily Rice,Jun. 10, 2024

Annual Report Shows Good News, Bad News In W.Va. Children’s Health

When it comes to several different measures of overall well-being, a new report shows West Virginia’s children rank 44th nationally. But there are some important improvements.

Emily Rice,Jun. 07, 2024

W.Va. Overdose Rates Rise While National Rates Fall

The severity of West Virginia’s high overdose mortality rate qualifies the state for more federal funding to fight the opioid crisis.

Emily Rice,Jun. 06, 2024

Opioid Settlement Funds Foundation Enacts Mission Statement

The foundation responsible for distributing West Virginia’s opioid settlement money met Thursday to enact mission statements and answer questions about when funds will be available to communities.

Emily Rice,Jun. 04, 2024

MSHA Holds Panel Discussion As Silica Dust Rule Implementation Draws Closer

A new federal silica dust rule is about to take effect. Monday, a panel of Black Lung experts expressed hope for the future of young miners — if they’re educated about their rights.

Emily Rice,Jun. 03, 2024

Warnings Sent For Potential Salmonella Cucumber Contamination

The FDA announced a recall of cucumbers potentially contaminated with salmonella that were sent to 14 states, including West Virginia.

Emily Rice,May. 29, 2024

W.Va.’s First Foster Care Ombudsman Resigns

The appointed watchdog of the West Virginia Foster Care System has resigned, effective June 6.

Emily Rice,May. 24, 2024

Lawmakers Search For Answers In Elderly Patient’s Boiling Death

The commission that oversees West Virginia’s state-run hospitals questioned state officials but received few answers following the January death of a man held at a state-run psychiatric facility.

Emily Rice,May. 22, 2024

DoHS Promises Transparency In Spending New Reserve Fund

Following a special session focused largely on funding her department, the Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Human Services, Cynthia Persily, released a statement promising transparency Tuesday.

Emily Rice,May. 14, 2024

Raw Milk Sales Legal In W.Va. As Avian Flu Cases In Cattle Rise

Starting in early June, West Virginians will be able to purchase raw milk, as long as it is properly labeled.

Emily Rice,May. 10, 2024

Discussion: Parental Interventions For Children’s Mental Health

One in seven West Virginian children experience anxiety or depression. Appalachia Health News Reporter, Emily Rice spoke with Keith Schemper, adviser for Psychosocial Support at Save the Children about how parents can intervene.

Emily Rice,May. 02, 2024

Study Finds Sterilization Rates Rose Post-Dobbs Decision

More young people are seeking and following through with permanent contraception procedures.

Emily Rice,Apr. 26, 2024

More Than 100 West Virginians Potentially Exposed To Measles

More than 100 West Virginians from 30 counties were potentially exposed to measles, according to the Department of Health.

Emily Rice,Apr. 25, 2024

Advocates, Lawmakers Worry For Future Of Medicaid In W.Va.

Health care services for nearly 30 percent of West Virginia’s population may be difficult to access if lawmakers don’t fully fund the Medicaid program in an expected special session.

Emily Rice,Apr. 24, 2024

New Report Finds W.Va. Among Cleanest States For Air Pollution

The Charleston Metro Area ranked among the nation’s cleanest cities for ozone pollution in a report released Wednesday.

Emily Rice,Apr. 23, 2024

State Health Officials Announce Completion Of Medicaid Unwinding

The West Virginia Department of Human Services Bureau for Medical Services released updated data following the completion of the state’s Medicaid unwinding period.

Emily Rice,Apr. 22, 2024

First Measles Case In 15 Years Announced In W.Va.

West Virginia’s first case of measles in 15 years was reported Monday afternoon.

Emily Rice,Apr. 22, 2024

Appalachian Partnership Awarded USDA Grant

An Appalachia food program received a grant to help provide healthy foods and strengthen local food financing programs.

Emily Rice,Apr. 16, 2024

Advocates Celebrate First Year Of Narcan Vending Machine

Local harm reduction advocates celebrated the first anniversary of the installation of a Narcan vending machine in Charleston on Monday.

Emily Rice,Apr. 10, 2024

New Information System Aims To Ease Fostering In W.Va.

During the recent regular session, legislators passed a bill aimed at improving foster care communication and accountability.

Emily Rice,Apr. 08, 2024

Group Receives ARC Grant To Strengthen Community Health

A new grant will help train and place community health workers to strengthen behavioral health systems in 20 W.Va. counties.

Emily Rice,Apr. 05, 2024

VAMC Expands Women’s Health Care Options

Women are the fastest-growing population of veterans and the Beckley VA Medical Center is staying ahead of the curve with its new offerings.

Emily Rice,Apr. 03, 2024

Doctor: W.Va. Leads Nation In Kidney Disease

West Virginia has the highest rate of kidney disease in the U.S., with close to 5 percent of adults in the state diagnosed with the disease.

Emily Rice,Mar. 29, 2024

Record Number Of Veterans Enrolled In Health Insurance

A record number of West Virginia veterans have enrolled in VA healthcare in the last year.

Emily Rice,Mar. 28, 2024

Veterans Counselors Have Opportunity To Collaborate

Mental health providers and substance use disorder counselors are coming together to share information between those who may work with veterans in the community.

Emily Rice,Mar. 26, 2024

Commissioner Carper Calls For Vaccine Bill Veto

A county commissioner has joined a chorus of healthcare professionals asking Gov. Jim Justice to veto a bill that would eliminate vaccine requirements for certain students in West Virginia.

Emily Rice,Mar. 21, 2024

Health Care Leaders Look Back On Four Years Of COVID-19

On March 17, 2020, West Virginia became the last state in the U.S. to test positive for COVID-19.

Emily Rice,Mar. 19, 2024

Legislature Passes Vaccination Exemptions In Final Hours

West Virginia, a state that has long been a standards bearer for vaccination rates across the country, has passed a law to loosen restrictions for certain students in the state. But the law has one final hurdle to clear before it’s implemented.

Emily Rice,Mar. 13, 2024

Group Plans To Ask Legislators For Tobacco Cessation Funding

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is asking lawmakers to support the West Virginia Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Task Force’s request for $5 million.

Emily Rice,Mar. 12, 2024

U.S. Department Of Labor To Hold Black Lung Benefits Educational Events

West Virginians with black lung will have the opportunity to learn about eligibility for benefits at upcoming educational events.

Emily Rice,Mar. 11, 2024

W.Va. Among States With Highest Prevalence Of Long COVID

Workers suffering from Long COVID may be eligible for workplace protections and accommodations under federal law.

Emily Rice,Mar. 06, 2024

Senate Health Committee Advances Vaccine Bill

A House Bill that aims to change vaccine requirements for virtual public, private and parochial students in West Virginia moved through the Senate Health Committee Wednesday afternoon after a lengthy discussion.

Emily Rice,Feb. 29, 2024

Abortion Pill Case To Be Heard By The U.S. Supreme Court

Developments in a legal battle over medication abortion in West Virginia could change access in the state.

Emily Rice,Feb. 21, 2024

Case Of Avian Influenza Confirmed In Kanawha County

The first confirmed case of avian influenza in West Virginia since 2006 has been found in a non-commercial backyard flock in Kanawha County

Emily Rice,Feb. 15, 2024

House Committee Moves To Change Vaccination Laws For Public Virtual Students

Children attending state-run virtual school may no longer have to be vaccinated if a House Health Committee becomes law.

Emily Rice,Feb. 14, 2024

House Committee Moves To Legalize Sale Of Raw Milk

On Tuesday, lawmakers on the House Health and Human Resources Committee moved to legalize the sale of raw milk in West Virginia.

Emily Rice,Feb. 13, 2024

Black Lung Compensation Falling Behind Inflation

Advocates report the monthly benefit rate for miners with Black Lung has not kept up with inflation.

Emily Rice,Feb. 07, 2024

State Accepting Public Comments On The Future Of TANF

Public comments will be accepted on the Federal Fiscal Year 2024 State Plan for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF program.

Emily Rice,Feb. 06, 2024

Senate Health Committee Focuses On Tobacco Cessation and Lung Health

A bill prohibiting smoking in a vehicle when a minor is present passed the Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources on Tuesday.

Emily Rice,Jan. 24, 2024

West Virginia Earns Failing Grades In Tobacco Use

West Virginia has once again scored failing marks on its annual State of Tobacco Report Card.

Emily Rice,Jan. 23, 2024

Students Gather At The Capitol To Say No To Tobacco

Keeping kids off of nicotine was the focus of a rally at the state capitol on Jan. 23, 2024.

Emily Rice,Jan. 15, 2024

Senate Recognizes Child Advocacy Day

Monday was Child Advocacy Day at the Capitol, bringing together child welfare advocates to provide resources and educate the public.

Emily Rice,Jan. 15, 2024

CHH Nurses Reach Contract Agreement

Following a Dec. 8 “Code Blue” call for concern, nurses and nurse practitioners at Cabell Huntington Hospital (CHH) have reached a three-year collective bargaining agreement.

Emily Rice,Jan. 11, 2024

W.Va. Children 5 Times More At Risk Of Drug Endangerment

The West Virginia Child Advocacy Group, or WVCAN, saw a nearly 10 percent increase in children served in the past five years.

Emily Rice,Jan. 10, 2024

Black Children Most Likely To Live In Poverty In W.Va., New Report Finds

A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found Latino children are the least likely to live in poverty in West Virginia.

Emily Rice,Jan. 09, 2024

Key Health Players Look Back At The 2014 Water Crisis

Ten years ago, a state of emergency and water advisory was issued for nine West Virginia counties following a chemical spill in the Elk River.

Emily Rice,Jan. 03, 2024

DHHR Officially Split Into Three Departments

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has been split into three separate departments following the passage of a bill to split the agency passed last year.

Emily Rice,Jan. 03, 2024

Analysis Of West Virginia Dental Care Reveals Barriers For Some

A mystery dental shopper survey in West Virginia found long wait times for appointments, especially for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) and those on Medicaid.

Emily Rice,Dec. 21, 2023

Morrisey Partners With State Auditor To Ensure Proper Local Spending Of Opioid Funds

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced a partnership with the state Auditor’s Office to supplement efforts to ensure opioid settlement money will be used for its intended purposes as outlined in the West Virginia First Foundation Memorandum of Understanding.

Emily Rice,Dec. 08, 2023

Union Nurses Call “Code Blue” For Understaffing At Cabell Huntington Hospital

Union members at Cabell Huntington Hospital are calling for “code blue” attention to be paid to its understaffing issues.

Emily Rice,Dec. 05, 2023

Consolidation Brings Pharmacy Deserts To W.Va.

With the closing and consolidation of pharmacy chains and independent retailers, patients are left wondering where to go for guidance and their medications.

Emily Rice,Nov. 28, 2023

Opioid Settlement Funds Foundation Discusses Next Steps

During the second meeting of the West Virginia First Foundation Board, members approved motions to continue the establishment of the organization.

Chris Schulz,Nov. 18, 2023

Dementia And The Holidays, Hope For Opioid Settlement Money And Concerning Health Trends, This West Virginia Week 

On this West Virginia Week, we hear about some of the health challenges facing West Virginians — including lung disease, HIV/AIDS outbreaks and recovery.

Emily Rice,Nov. 16, 2023

New Report Details Poor Infant And Maternal Health In W.Va.

A new report from the March of Dimes shows West Virginia’s already high preterm birth rate is rising.

Emily Rice,Nov. 15, 2023

W.Va. Ranks Poorly In National Lung Cancer Report

Lung cancer and smoking rates in the state lag behind the rest of the country and aren’t showing any signs of improvement, according to a new report.

Emily Rice,Nov. 14, 2023

Fauci Weighs In On W.Va.’s HIV Rate

HIV Aids is on the rise in Monongalia County as a group of WVU Medical students learned recently on a Zoom call with Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Emily Rice,Oct. 30, 2023

W.Va. State Police Advise Caution For A Happy Halloween

With All Hallow’s Eve approaching, the West Virginia State Police provided the public with some safety tips.

Emily Rice,Oct. 27, 2023

Fairmont State University Students Provided ‘Pipeline’ To Pursue Medical Degrees

Two West Virginia state schools signed a memorandum of understanding to promote medical student’s acceptance.

Emily Rice,Oct. 25, 2023

DHHR Changes Dashboard To Track Respiratory Illness Season

The Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) has replaced its COVID-19 dashboard with a new system to track three respiratory diseases.

Emily Rice,Oct. 24, 2023

Medicare Experts Encourage Members To Check Their Coverage

Experts advise Medicare members to review their coverage and watch out for scams during open enrollment season.

Emily Rice,Oct. 19, 2023

Health Experts Advise Vaccination Ahead Of Respiratory Illness Season

As respiratory illness season ramps up, health experts are encouraging West Virginians to promote health and safety in their communities.

Emily Rice,Oct. 19, 2023

Facing West Virginia’s Child Care Cliff

On a national level, the end of pandemic-era benefits will affect child care costs and access. West Virginia hopes to avoid those shortfalls by relying on individual child care subsidies that date back to the 1960s.

Emily Rice,Oct. 19, 2023

Advocates Discuss Black Infant And Maternal Health With Lawmakers

The Black Infant and Maternal Health Working Group hosted a breakfast and meet and greet with lawmakers Monday at the capitol.

Emily Rice,Oct. 18, 2023

Hundreds Of Teens Attend Anti-Tobacco Summit

Hundreds of middle and high school students gathered at the Raze Youth Summit to learn about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping.

Emily Rice,Oct. 17, 2023

Lawmakers Discuss Vaccination Laws

West Virginia allows for medical exemptions to vaccines but does not allow for exemptions based on religious or philosophical beliefs. Some lawmakers would like to see those laws change.

Emily Rice,Oct. 16, 2023

Free Two-Day Clinic Coming To Charleston

A non-profit provider of pop-up clinics will deliver free dental, vision and medical care to those in need in Charleston.

Emily Rice,Oct. 13, 2023

Annual Anti-Tobacco Summit Aims To Slow Nicotine Use In Teens

An annual event is set to educate more than 600 youth from across West Virginia about the dangers of nicotine use.

Emily Rice,Oct. 10, 2023

DHHR To Distribute Federal Funding For Mental Health And Substance Use Services

In a release, the DHHR outlined seven grant programs that will support various health initiatives across the state.

Emily Rice,Sep. 29, 2023

Child Care Centers To Receive Final Pandemic-Era Payment

A final pandemic era payment will be issued to child care centers across the state, according to Gov. Jim Justice.

Emily Rice,Sep. 28, 2023

VA Reminds Combat Veterans Of PACT Act Deadline Saturday

Certain combat Veterans can enroll in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits.

Emily Rice,Sep. 27, 2023

Documentary Film Dives Deeper Into Minden, W.Va. Contamination

A film called Impossible Town, based in Minden, West Virginia features Dr. Ayne Amjad’s efforts to relocate the town’s residents after decades of exposure to chemical contamination during her tenure as the state’s health officer.

Emily Rice,Sep. 25, 2023

Head Start W.Va. Worry Ahead Of Probable Government Shutdown

Hundreds of families in West Virginia could lose the support of Head Start if the government shuts down.

Emily Rice,Sep. 21, 2023

WVU Nursing School Nationally Ranked 

The West Virginia University School of Nursing undergraduate nursing program has again been named one of the top 100 nursing schools in the country.

Emily Rice,Sep. 21, 2023

Officials Call For Vigilance Against Respiratory Illness

Sherri Young, the interim secretary of the DHHR, and incoming secretary for the new Department of Health, spoke with Appalachia Health News Reporter Emily Rice about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Emily Rice,Sep. 20, 2023

Officials Advise Vaccination Ahead Of Respiratory Illness Season

Officials recommend West Virginians ages six months and older stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations.

Emily Rice,Sep. 20, 2023

Black Lung Advocates Want More From New Proposed Silica Dust Rule

A draft rule to protect coal miners from exposure to silica dust garnered more than 5,200 comments from advocates and the American public.

Emily Rice,Sep. 15, 2023

WVU Researchers Seek Participants For Telehealth Study

A study will measure the effectiveness of telehealth as a means for patients to remain at home while managing their care.

Emily Rice,Sep. 14, 2023

Project Remodels Homes For Health

A $1 million grant provided by UniCare helped establish a program aimed at improving the livability and conditions of five homes throughout West Virginia.

Emily Rice,Sep. 13, 2023

New COVID-19 Vaccine Protects Against Variants

A new COVID-19 has been approved for all Americans six months and older.

Emily Rice,Sep. 13, 2023

Save A Life Day To Distribute Narcan

An event that started in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley has now spread to all 13 federally recognized Appalachian states.

Emily Rice,Sep. 13, 2023

Abortion Access Eases With New Clinic In Maryland

The Women’s Health Center of Maryland in Cumberland will see its first patients on Sept. 13.

Emily Rice,Sep. 12, 2023

Lawmakers Hear Updates On DHHR Reorganization

The three appointed secretaries of the new bureaus of the DHHR provided lawmakers with updates on restructuring within the department. Legislation passed in 2023 required the department to be reorganized and split into three agencies after concerns of inefficiencies in the system.

Emily Rice,Sep. 07, 2023

September Is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

The goal of the 988 line is to connect people in crisis with someone in their community who can point them to local resources.

Emily Rice,Sep. 07, 2023

W.Va. Needs More Foster Families For Teens

The majority of West Virginia’s children in foster care are actually teenagers. Many of them are placed in group homes instead of foster care.

Emily Rice,Sep. 06, 2023

Officials Advise Caution Against Fall Respiratory Illness

A new vaccine to protect against the many strains of COVID-19 will be available at the end of September.

Emily Rice,Sep. 05, 2023

State Leaders Recognize Adult Family Care Workers

September is adult family care month in West Virginia.

Emily Rice,Sep. 01, 2023

W.Va. Receives $4.4 Million To Fight Opioids

Federal funding was awarded to West Virginia in response to the overdose risk from fentanyl and other opioids.

Emily Rice,Aug. 31, 2023

Industry Leaders Discuss Workforce Health

State health care leaders met Thursday at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting and business summit at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs.

Emily Rice,Aug. 29, 2023

Shortages Vary Across Hospitals

Staffing shortages place an immense strain on the entire health care system, leaving hospitals and medical centers overwhelmed and unable to provide optimal care for patients.

Emily Rice,Aug. 24, 2023

MU Summit To Address Xylazine In Opioid Crisis

A Friday summit at Marshall University will explore critical interventions against the use of the drug xylazine as part of the opioid crisis.

Emily Rice,Aug. 24, 2023

Nursing Shortages Limit Timely Care In W.Va.

Nursing had the highest overall rates of vacancies and turnovers of all the professions studied in a hospital workforce report.

Emily Rice,Aug. 23, 2023

State Officials Aim To Stop Vaping Before It Starts

A new initiative aims to curb rates of vaping among West Virginia’s teenagers.

Emily Rice,Aug. 23, 2023

Black Lung Health Fair Held In Oak Hill

A free health fair on Tuesday gave the community of Oak Hill the opportunity to be tested for black lung disease.

Emily Rice,Aug. 21, 2023

Black Lung Screenings And Town Hall In Oakhill

Black lung screenings will be available and free to the public Tuesday in Oak Hill.