www.charlestondailymail.com Health http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Officials endorse HPV vaccine http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140725/DM01/140729493 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140725/DM01/140729493 Fri, 25 Jul 2014 00:01:00 -0400 By Samuel Speciale CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Cervical cancer nearly destroyed Shelly Dusic's life, but now she's using her experience to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated against a virus often linked with causing the disease.

After spending six years in a wheelchair because of severe and constant pain - a time of misdiagnoses and being told her discomfort was in her head - Dusic finally found answers when a nurse looked at her medical history and called for a test that revealed she had a cantaloupe-sized tumor growing inside her abdomen.

Once diagnosed, Dusic had to choose whether to have a hysterectomy and live or cling to the hope she could fight it on her own.

Ultimately, Dusic had the surgery, but she said she never would have gone through what she did if she had access to the vaccination that helps prevent the disease that causes cervical cancer.

The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the country, but it can be contracted by non-sexual means.

Dusic, a health information specialist for the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program, said HPV is a contact disease that can be spread by a kiss or by simply not washing one's hands after touching an infected area.

"People don't think about that at all," she said.

HPV generally affects women more than men, and West Virginia is one of the worst states in terms of infection rates.

It's especially prevalent in communities of low socioeconomic status where access to quality health care is limited.

Estimated vaccination coverage in West Virginia, while higher than the national average, is still low according to health officials who say only 45 percent of girls have begun the three-dose HPV vaccination series and that only 36 percent finish. It's even lower in males.

The rise in infections and less-than-favorable vaccination rates has West Virginia health officials hoping a positive campaign will remove the stigmas surrounding the shot and ease the concerns parents may have.

Some opponents claim the vaccine can cause adverse health effects or even sterility. Others say endorsing the shot will encourage teens to start having sex.

Health officials say religious conviction is the most common reason parents do not let their children get vaccinated, and that some outright oppose any vaccination.

"If you can prevent it, why wouldn't you?" Dusic said.

That's why health officials are rallying around the vaccine, which greatly reduces the chance of women getting cervical cancer.

Getting parents to sign off on the optional vaccination is the next step.

A group of health care officials issued a call-to-action Thursday urging providers and physicians to recommend the vaccination because studies have shown that parents overwhelmingly consent and complete the series when it is strongly recommended by their primary care provider.

The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health recommends starting the vaccination in 11- or 12-year-old girls. The three-shot series takes six months to complete with a second shot being administered two months after the first and the final shot four months after that.

While the vaccine is not mandatory, it can be requested when students get their boosters and shots required to attend school.

Contact writer Samuel Speciale at sam.speciale@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4886. Follow him at www.twitter.com/wvschools.

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Task force takes on county-wide heroin epidemic http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/DM01/140729565 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/DM01/140729565 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:06:25 -0400 By Shawnee Moran Officials gathered Thursday morning at the Kanawha County Courthouse in an attempt to raise public awareness of the county-wide heroin epidemic.

The Heroin Eradication Associated Task force, also known as Kanawha H.E.A.T., was financed by $250,000 of the county's public safety grant money to address the growing dangers of the drug in the community.

"The county commission decided this would be in best interest of the public to try to dedicate some funding to do something about the heroin problem here in the area," said Terry Sayre, chairman of the task force.

In 2013, the Metro Drug Unit saw a 400 percent increase in heroin use, and officials said heroin overdoses now happen regularly.

"It's a daily occurrence. We've had people pass out at stoplights, at fast-food windows, and even with their kids in child seats in their car," said Charleston Fire Capt. Mark Strickland. "I saw my first overdose in 2001, and in the last three years there has been an off-the-chart spike in heroin overdoses."

The fire department is working in conjunction with the police department in an effort to try and eliminate heroin use in the city. Strickland said they can generally tell when the drug hits the street because they see an upswing in overdoses almost immediately.

"We find the heroin problem to have no social, racial or economic divide," he said. "It's a drug for all customers. Heroin is out there and it's cheap, readily available and people are using it. It's everywhere."

Members of the task force said the age group with the most heroin users is 30-39, followed by ages 40-49. According to their data, areas in Kanawha County with the most heroin-related problems are Charleston, South Charleston and Dunbar. They noted that heroin use is a problem for both the East End and the West Side.

Heroin users often misjudge the regularity and purity of the substance they inject, which often leads to critical or lethal overdoses.

Marianne Richardson, Charleston Area Medical Center's general emergency department director, said she sees varying reactions to drug overdoses.

"It's anywhere from decreased mental awareness to cardiac arrest. On average we see one (heroin overdose) patient a day," she said, though as many as eight overdose patients have come through the hospital system in a day.

The overdoses are treated with the drug Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, which is used to counteract the effects of heroin.

Heroin is a depressant, which leads to a life-threatening depression of the user's central nervous system and respiratory system. When the counteracting drug is administered, it allows the user to breathe normally and counteracts feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

The main point of the task force's meeting, Sayre said, was to get the public involved to try and get the drug off the streets.

"We're trying to raise public awareness to where we can get the public to cooperate with law enforcement more to help with their investigations. If they suspect someone is a heroin dealer, we're going to send out the local police departments and the sheriff's department," he said. "If you have a friend that's addicted to heroin - if you're a true friend, you need to get them help and get them in treatment somewhere."

Follow the task force on Twitter @Heat_Task for more information.

Contact writer Shawnee Moran at 304-348-4872 or shawnee.moran @dailymailwv.com. Follow her on Twitter @shawneemoran22.

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Former Power executive to get prostate exam at game http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729619 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729619 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:12:22 -0400 By Ashley B. Craig Andy Milovich is going to take one for the team in a humorous attempt to bring attention to a serious matter.

Milovich, general manager for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans minor league baseball team, will undergo a prostate exam today during the Pelicans' game against the Frederick Keys in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The exam, which will be conducted by a licensed physician, will be performed in the radio booth at BB&T Coastal Field during the seventh inning stretch.

Don't worry, only Milovich's head and shoulders will visible to the crowd.

Oh and one more thing - Milovich plans to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," during the examination.

"I imagine it might be in more of a falsetto," Milovich said with a laugh when reached Tuesday.

Milovich, former general manager for the West Virginia Power, took a job in 2012 as the general manager for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, farm team for the Texas Rangers. He was challenged last week by the front office staff to get a prostate exam during today's game. He said it started as a joke during a radio show.

The team runs various promotions during the season. Some are for fun but others have a serious message, like the "Strike Out Cancer" series that focuses on different types of cancer including esophageal cancer, breast cancer, testicular and prostate cancer and others.

Both Milovich's family and the Pelican organization had been touched by different forms of cancer in recent months, he said.

Tonight is Prostate Cancer Awareness Night at BB&T Coastal Field. The first 1,000 men over 18 years old to enter the park will receive a foam finger with a blue reminder ribbon.

"We wanted to raise awareness for prostate cancer, because it's the number two cause of death amongst men prematurely," Milovich said. "It's all preventable. With early detection it's almost always treatable."

A reporter asked Milovich last week during a radio show while discussing the promotional event if the team would also be giving away prostate exams. Milovich may have laughed the question off and said no, but he then was asked if he would get a prostate exam during the game.

"I said 'Alright I'll do it, but it's gotta be for a good cause. It's got to help Fallon," Milovich said.

Fallon Emery, a 10-year-old Carolina Forest girl, was diagnosed with brain cancer in December. Her battle with the disease has been chronicled on her "Fierce Fallon" Facebook page. Milovich's family are close to Fallon's family.

Milovich said he'd do it if Fallon's Facebook page reached 10,000 likes.

Fallon has been greatly supported by the community in her fight. The team is hosting a fund raiser for her on Aug. 2 at the ballpark.

Milovich received a number of questions from those in sports media about the challenge, including whether or not he was for real. He responded that he was.

The goal is to get more men to get themselves examined.

"This is something that should be done," Milovich said of having the exam. "I'm willing to kind of embarrass myself for the sake to taking that stigma away. If it will give a boy or girl a chance to play catch with their dad later in life then I'm happy to do it."

The story has been picked up by ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and numerous national sports radio outlets and publications.

By Tuesday, Fallon had more than 11,000 likes on her "Fierce Fallon" Facebook page. Fallon's mother explained to her what Milovich was doing to garner support for her, he said. Fallon thought his plan was funny.

"The response has really been overwhelming," Milovich said.

Dave Oster, a longtime friend of Milovich and the general manager of the Lake Elsinore Storm in California, pledged Monday night to match Milovich's challenge if the "Fierce Fallon" page reached 12,000 likes. By Wednesday evening the page had 11,288 likes.

While professional organizations vary on recommendations on who should and shouldn't get a prostate-specific antigen exam to look for signs of prostate cancer, some organizations recommend the test in men between the ages of 40 and 75 and in men with an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Milovich is 45 and tonight's exam will be his first, he said.

"It will be my first time, but luckily I'll have a diversion," he said. "And I'll be saving a co-pay."

Dr. Glenn Gangi with Atlantic Urology Specialists in Conway, S.C., will prepare for the exam in the media booth at the beginning of the 7th Inning. The exam will take place during the middle of the inning.

Milovich said only his face and maybe his shoulders will be visible to the crowd via video screen during the exam.

"Though the promotion is humorous in nature the exam is not and Andy is a trooper for sharing such a personal experience live," Kristen Call, Pelicans senior director of marketing, said in an email. "We are taking every precaution to keep the video and photos of the exam respectful to both Andy and our fans."

If Milovich was nervous at all about the exam he didn't show it during an interview Tuesday.

"Hopefully, I get good results," Milovich said.

Pelicans games are broadcast on ESPN 1490 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The games also are available online at www.myrtlebeachpelicans.com or on MiLB.TV.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4850.

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Hospital board talks building projects http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729646 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729646 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:36:32 -0400 By Charlotte Ferrell Smith Slides displaying plans and progress on building projects at Charleston Area Medical Center show how patient care will continue to improve, said Dale Wood, chief quality officer.

Wood, who made the presentation on Wednesday morning during the regular meeting of the CAMC Board of Trustees, discussed how the process will affect patients, visitors, parking and staff.

"It's like a bunch of dominoes to make things happen," he said.

While officials were already aware of the projects, Wood quickly went through a series of slides to update the board.

Construction at Memorial means losing parking spaces while large equipment is situated in the area through February of 2015. Additional staff will be on hand to guide people safely away from the construction zone. While parking near the work area will be lost for safety reasons, additional parking will be opened near the Heart and Vascular Center. Property purchased near Aladdin's Restaurant on Chesterfield Avenue will be available for staff parking with a shuttle service provided. Construction at Memorial will be done in stages with three new levels adding 109,830 square feet of space and 48 additional patient beds, including 16 for critical care and 32 for general medical care. There will also be space for adding another 48 beds when authorization and funding make that possible.

As CAMC continues to expand and offer additional services, temporary inconveniences will be compensated in terms of better patient care, he said.

The new CAMC Cancer Center is moving along as expected.

"We are on budget and on schedule," he said. "We plan to see patients in May."

David Ramsey, president and chief executive officer, said he was surprised with the building progress he saw on a recent tour of the Cancer Center.

University of Charleston President Ed Welch, who heads the quality committee, said advance directives and living wills become a challenge for hospital officials when family does not agree with a patient's wishes. However, the written decision of the patient must prevail in these instances, he said.

"We continue to work on that touchy, personal issue," he said.

He also suggested officials take a look at when a patient needs life prolonging therapy or palliative care. For example, it could be noted whether a patient was admitted through Hospice or traditional means in order to identify more quickly what kind of care may be needed.

He also mentioned a recent "miracle case" whereby a patient was admitted with numerous gunshot wounds, went home within a month, and continues therapy on an outpatient basis.

"It's phenomenal what CAMC can do to assist people," he said.

Larry Hudson, CAMC chief financial officer, said finances have improved for several reasons, including Medicaid revisions.

Gail Pitchford, CAMC foundation president, presented a strategic plan for continued fundraising. Last May, the foundation exceeded its $15 million fundraising goal for the new Cancer Center.

"With the Cancer Center under construction, donors who drive by can see that the money they give changes the delivery of health care in this community," she said. "One object of the campaign was not just to raise money but to raise awareness of the CAMC Foundation. We acquired 2,000 new donors as a result of the campaign. We've acquired new donors and we've got to keep them."

She called upon board members to make her aware of those who have influence in the community with talents for fundraising. The foundation is continuing to build its "grateful patients program."

Patients who thank health officials for excellent care often make donations, she said. When patients receive care there is a box to mark if they do not wish to receive information from the foundation. Otherwise, materials may be sent to them so they are aware of opportunities to donate. The foundation may have access to names and addresses for mailings while medical information remains confidential.

Pitchford also praised the generosity of employees who gave more than $500,000 toward the new Cancer Center.

Ramsey said Pitchford's leadership has been impressive.

"We are lucky to have Gail leading the foundation," he said. "She does a remarkable job."

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at charlotte@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1246.

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Some fruit sold at Kroger included in recall http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729694 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729694 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:58:50 -0400 Some fruit sold at local Kroger stores is being included in a voluntary recall, after a California packing company learned it may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Wawona Packing Company of Cutler, Calif., is voluntarily recalling certain lots of whole peaches (white and yellow), nectarines (white and yellow), plums and pluots packed between June 1, 2014 through July 12, 2014.

Kroger issued automated calls to its Kroger Plus shopping card customers who purchased the products, which include peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots with peel-off stickers that include the wording "Sweet2Eat."

No other products are impacted by this recall, and no illnesses have been linked to this recall to date.

Kroger customers who purchased the affected fruit can return it to the store for a full refund.

Listeria, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Consumers with additional questions may contact Wawona Packing at 1-888-232-9912, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit www.wawonapacking.com for a copy of this press release.

"We are aware of no illnesses related to the consumption of these products" said Brent Smittcamp, president of Wawona Packing Co., in a news release. "By taking the precautionary step of recalling product, we will minimize even the slightest risk to public health, and that is our priority."

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Federal agency pledges new chemical leak health studies http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729700 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729700 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:15:06 -0400 By Dave Boucher CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Federal researchers have pledged to pay for and conduct health studies related to the effects of the Freedom Industries chemical leak.

The National Toxicology Program will conduct animal studies using MCHM, the coal-washing agent that contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginians in January, Dr. Rahul Gupta, head of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said Wednesday morning.

The studies, expected to cost $750,000 to $1.2 million, will examine short-, intermediate- and long-term health effects of the chemical, Gupta said.

"They're exactly what I've been asking for from the beginning," Gupta said in a phone interview Wednesday morning.

The program is overseen by the federal health department with input from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Jan. 9, state officials discovered thousands of gallons of chemicals leaking from a faulty storage tank at a facility owned by Freedom Industries along the Elk River. Although investigations are ongoing, it is believed as much as 10,000 gallons made it into the river and contaminated a nearby water treatment facility.

Despite the state issuing a do-not-use order hours after the leak and contamination, more than 500 people went to the emergency room and 26 were admitted after reporting what they believe were exposure-related symptoms.

John Bucher, associate director of the National Toxicology Program, said his organization already started looking at potential long-term health effects within days of the leak. They're going to use the same methods as a part of the three-pronged approach to testing planned over the course of the next year, he said.

Bucher said they continue to create models for potential long-term health effects looking at the toxicological data that is available for pure MCHM, crude MCHM and other chemicals believed to be in the tank that leaked. So far those tests didn't suggest negative effects in the long run from exposures, but Bucher said they'll keep making the models.

Noting public concern of exposure problems for pregnant women, Bucher said they have a series of animal tests planned. They plan to expose zebra fish, a type of worm and pregnant rats to the chemical and study the development of each of the animals, he said.

Bucher characterized the final plank of the studies as experimental in nature. Again using rats, they plan to expose the animals to various doses of the chemicals and examine the rats' livers to see the effect of the chemicals.

"We'll get a lot of information that will either confirm our suspicions that there's not a high likelihood of long-term health effects from these exposures, or maybe it'll point us in (a different) direction we need to go," Bucher said.

They plan to use samples of pure MCHM, crude MCHM and other chemicals believed to be in the faulty tank provided by the chemicals' manufacturer. Bucher said they didn't want to use samples of the actual substance that leaked. He cited concerns about how the chemicals were stored or whether there were any effects of being stored for more than 6 months on the composition of the material.

He cautioned that toxicology is a predictive science: test results from worms, rats or fish don't always translate completely to what could happen to a person. However, he said continued testing increases scientist's confidence in the results they receive.

"If you do enough different things and you keep coming up with the same answer, then I think you have confidence in the answer," Bucher said,

First reported by WOWK-TV, the announcement was made Wednesday morning at a meeting in the Washington office of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

"We have all agreed that it is necessary to conduct additional scientific testing to rebuild West Virginians' confidence that the water they use and drink every day is safe for themselves and their children, and to ensure there is a clear understanding of any potential long-term health impacts," Manchin said in a news release.

Gupta said he and other state officials didn't know the federal agency would award the money until they entered the meeting.

"It was a pleasant surprise when we got the call (to come to Washington, D.C.)," Gupta said.

"We're seeing some light at the end of the tunnel here," he said.

Gupta and others called for studies of the long-term health effects within days of the leak, pointing to hospital visits and the lack of information about MCHM. Toxicity data - which was also recently questioned - provided little details, and the few studies available about the health effects of the chemical were performed on rats.

Earlier in the year, the CDC declined to provide any additional funding for health studies. However, Bucher said his organization received a "nomination" from the CDC to conduct more studies on the chemical several weeks ago.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin recently said he had requested more funding for studies, but would not move forward with any state-paid research until the federal government contributed more money.

"My administration, particularly DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling, has worked with local, state and federal partners to secure funding for additional MCHM tests and long-term medical surveillance to assess any potential health implications for our residents as a result of the Jan. 9 Elk River chemical spill," Tomblin said in the news release.

Tomblin spokesman Chris Stadelman said as of now, the state would likely wait for the results of these studies before deciding whether additional studies were necessary.

Working with the CDC, the state health department released a report in April that states it's likely at least some of the reported symptoms - mostly skin problems and nausea - were caused by MCHM. In the days after the leak, the state health department said it would take time before anyone could confirm any connection; they also argued ailments like the flu could have played a role in the sudden uptick in ER visits immediately after the leak.

The CDC and state health department report also acknowledges breathing in water vapor that contained the chemical or touching contaminated water also may have caused negative health effects. In creating its 1 part per million safety guideline for how much MHCM could be safely consumed in water, the CDC did not take into account touching or breathing in contaminated water.

The guideline was also only applicable to short-term exposure, which the CDC defined as 14 days. After eventually saying the number was only a short-term guideline, calls for more long-term medical monitoring grew louder.

Gupta and members of the state Legislature persisted. Following considerable debate, state lawmakers passed a bill that required state health officials to pursue the possibility of long-term medical monitoring.

Bowling and Gupta made several trips to the nation's capital to ask for federal funding for such studies.

Bowling, joined by state health officer Dr. Letitia Tierney, also attended this morning's meeting. CDC Director Thomas Frieden, who issued the memo warning pregnant women against drinking contaminated water a week after the leak, was also at the meeting, as were other federal health officials.

"Dr. Frieden committed to providing further surveillance measures based on findings of toxicological testing," Gupta said in the news release.

Gupta told the Daily Mail the CDC will send a team of experts to West Virginia to discuss options for monitoring any long-term health effects of the chemical on the affected area.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.

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Meningitis diagnosis prompted W.Va. clinic probe http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729708 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729708 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:07:52 -0400

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

An investigation that found syringes were being reused at a West Virginia pain management clinic - whose operator had his medical license revoked in Texas - was triggered after a patient developed bacterial meningitis, a health official said Tuesday.

Health officials in Ohio and West Virginia advised patients of Valley Pain Management in McMechen on Monday to be tested for blood-borne infections.

West Virginia's state epidemiologist Dr. Loretta Haddy said a patient contracted bacterial meningitis a day after a procedure at the clinic. Haddy told The Associated Press that health officials were notified last October. She declined to disclose where the diagnosis occurred.

Bacterial meningitis is contagious, can cause swelling of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord and can be fatal. Survivors can suffer mental disabilities, hearing loss and paralysis. It is spread through saliva or mucous.

Haddy said the subsequent investigation found that the clinic's physician didn't wear a surgical mask during epidural injections, that the clinic reused syringes on more than one patient and had other sanitation issues.

The health advisory is for patients who had an injection between the clinic's 2010 opening and Nov. 1, 2013. Health officials urged patients from both states to be tested and said the clinic's injection practices potentially exposed them to diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

It wasn't immediately clear why patients weren't alerted prior to Monday. Both states' health agencies said they had requested a patient list from the clinic in order to notify patients of their potential risk of exposure and testing options.

Haddy said her department now has subpoenaed the clinic for those records.

"It's our mission to protect the public's health," Haddy said. "Due to the uncooperativeness and unwillingness of the clinic to provide a patient list, we had to go this route."

Dr. Roland Chalifoux Jr. operates the clinic, located in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle across the Ohio River from Ohio. His attorney, Elgine McArdle, said a subpoena violates health privacy laws.

McCardle said she plans to make a motion to quash the subpoena. She said state health officials cited a regulation that allows them to see patient lists if there's an epidemic.

"There is no epidemic," McCardle said Tuesday.

McArdle said saline bags from the clinic that were tested were found not to be infected. She called the investigation a "fishing expedition."

In 2004, the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners revoked Chalifoux's license for violating standards of care in his treatment of three patients, including the 1996 death of a 61-year-old man after unnecessary surgery was performed, according to the board's final order.

A Texas appeals court affirmed the license revocation.

The West Virginia Board of Osteopathy, which was aware of the disciplinary action in Texas, granted Chalifoux a restricted license in 2004 so he could complete a neurosurgery refresher course at West Virginia University's medical school. An unrestricted license was granted in 2005.

Haddy said the Board of Osteopathy has been alerted to the ongoing investigation. A call to the board wasn't immediately returned Tuesday.

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Health department to offer vaccination clinic for students http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM01/140729766 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM01/140729766 Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:33:04 -0400 By Samuel Speciale CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Amidst the flurry of buying supplies and finding the perfect outfit for the first day, vaccinations are often an overlooked aspect of back-to-school preparation.

Forgetting or neglecting to get up-to-date shots, though, could bar some students from attending school until proper documentation or a medical exemption is obtained.

All seventh graders in West Virginia are required to show proof they have received a booster for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (Tdap) as well as a meningococcal vaccination. Those entering 12th grade must show proof of receiving a Tdap booster and at least one dose of the meningococcal vaccine after turning 16.

State policy does not grant grace periods for getting the shots, so students who fail to do so are not allowed to attend school until they do. The only way around that requirement is for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department to grant an exemption, which is reserved only for those with allergies to the vaccine or those whose health could be harmed.

Brenda Isaac, head of Kanawha County school nurses, said the policy isn't meant to keep anyone out of school, but to protect students from potentially contracting a disease.

While it is the sole responsibility of students and parents to have up-to-date shots, the health department offers aid through its annual vaccination clinic, which will be Aug. 6 to 12.

The walk-in clinic isn't free, but vaccinations will be made available to uninsured students.

"We will not turn anyone away," said John Law, health department spokesman.

There are state and federal funds allocated for student vaccinations, though Law said it's not nearly enough to pay for everyone.

"That's why we encourage those with insurance to use it," he said, later adding that those with insurance, whether private or through Medicaid, will have to provide billing information before getting the shot.

While there is no guarantee insurance companies will cover the full cost of the vaccination, Law said most will because it's considered a preventative measure.

Law said there is a wait but "it shouldn't be too long."

He said wait times can be reduced by bringing current vaccination records, which can be obtained by a family's physician. The health department also has vaccination records for students who received them in Kanawha County.

The purpose of the five-day clinic is to give all necessary vaccinations before school starts, but Isaac said there always are some students who come the first day and have to be sent home.

Kindergarten students also have to receive required vaccinations before starting school, but Isaac said they are allowed to enter school "provisionally" if they aren't current, so long as the series is completed within 90 days.

In addition to Tdap, it is recommended that students also be immunized against Haemophilius influenza type B, Hepatitis A and B, HPV, influenza, measles, mumps and rubella, pneumococcal, polio and chicken pox.

The clinic for seventh and 12th graders will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 6, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 7 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 8, 11 and 12.

Contact writer Samuel Speciale at sam.speciale@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4886. Follow him at www.twitter.com/wvschools.

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Groups support new policy that advocates reading from birth http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM01/140729772 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM01/140729772 Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:21:58 -0400 By Shawnee Moran It's never too early to start reading to your kids.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new policy statement in last month advocating for parents to read aloud to their children every day beginning from birth. Studies show children as young as 18 months of age can benefit from being read to by learning new vocabulary, boosting brain activity and increasing their language skills.

The AAP also recommends pediatricians provide books to their patients during health checkups and emphasize the importance of daily reading.

Mary Bond, the executive director of Read Aloud West Virginia, said she agrees with the policy statement and thinks the medical community can help promote the importance of reading.

"It's wonderful to have this official recognition of the key role physicians and people in the medical community can play. As parents I think we look to the (medical) community to see what we can do for our children," she said adding that the medical community has a great deal of access to families with young children. "This was just a wonderful affirmation of what we have been trying to accomplish for a few years."

Read Aloud West Virginia, a nonprofit organization, serves 23 counties in the state. This organization was founded in Kanawha County in 1987 by a group of parents with the hope to instill a love of reading in children from an early age.

Bond said families unintentionally determine what their child values. She said children pick up from an early age what is valued in the family - whether it be food, sports or a specific type of music.

She said children who are raised in homes where reading is valued have an advantage when they get to school because they have a larger vocabulary and are ready to read.

"If a child doesn't see a value and doesn't want to read outside of school, they are going to have a difficult time in the classroom," she said. "We know children work hard to acquire a skill that are valued to the people around them, and that is what the American Academy (of Pediatrics) is talking about. Families have the biggest impact to make children want to read and develop that skill."

Bond said she thinks reading to children is more of a time issue, and can compete with technology.

"Babies are soaking in their environment. If they are in an environment where family members are talking about what they are reading, those children are going to have a distinct advantage," she said. "Young developing brains do not need a lot of screen time - they need time to connect with human beings."

Dr. James Binder, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist at Cabin Creek Health Systems, agrees that technology can interfere with the parent-child relationship. Binder said reading to your child is important because it not only helps promote language skills, but it strengthens the bonding in parent-child relationships.

"I think the policy statement has the potential for parents to read out loud to children on a regular basis and it could be very valuable for families," he said. "If we are going to make changes helping children in schools, we have to do it in the first three years of life.

"I think this policy is an excellent step."

"They are really promoting being present to your children," he said, adding that the idea of the policy is to have children learn from the stories they hear and develop a passion for reading.

"It's a wonderful way for children and parents to connect. The goal is to get them enjoying the stories and loving the stories so it is a lifetime habit."

Dr. Robin Darnell, a child pediatrician at Kid Care Pediatrics, said the policy could positively affect many families.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics is always looking for ways to help pediatricians in their day-to-day practices. It ... promotes reading to infants. They are always trying to promote things we can do to help our children get safer and smarter, and this certainly makes sense to me," she said.

She said the most beneficial aspect of reading to your children is the social interaction between parent and child. Simply speaking to a newborn helps form their language, and just five to 10 minutes of reading a day also can help develop those skills.

Darnell said Kid Care Pediatrics doesn't give out books now, but she thinks it would be a great idea to implement in the future.

For more information on Read Aloud West Virginia, visit http://readaloudwestvirginia.org/.

Contact writer Shawnee Moran at 304-348-4872 or shawnee.moran@dailymailwv.com. Follow her on Twitter @shawneemoran22.

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New report reflects women's thoughts on water crisis http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM0104/140729773 DM0104 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM0104/140729773 Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:21:34 -0400 By Whitney Burdette Women were confused and unsure how to react following the January chemical spill that contaminated the water supply servicing nine counties.

According to the Women and Water Report released last week by women's rights group West Virginia Free, the confusion was compounded by an advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging pregnant women to avoid drinking the water. That led other women, particularly mothers, to question the safety of the water, even after the do-not-use order was lifted. West Virginia Free then conducted a multi-stop listening tour throughout the Kanawha Valley to give concerned women a safe space to talk about reproductive, gynecological and other health problems they thought could affect them after the spill.

"We were compelled to become engaged," said Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of West Virginia Free. "We began raising money because we wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the crisis and solutions to the crisis. We recognized the need for public input and in particular, in light of the CDC advisory and because we're a reproductive justice organization, we wanted to get women's perspectives. What we found was there was a lot of confusion and there was great interest among women and families in getting the facts about how the spill was affecting their families. They also had a lot to say about what they thought should happen."

The report is broken into six sections: lives interrupted, physical health affects experienced, fear and anxiety pervasive, decreased trust, women and children at risk and civic action needed. Each section includes opinions and thoughts from participants as well as a list of recommendations based on the concerns the women outlined.

"The recommendations were sort of made up of themes consistent across all the sessions," said Maya Nye, president of People Concerned About Chemical Safety, and coordinator of the listening tour. "It was consistency across all sessions - where some of the most comments were directed. It's all information based on individual participants."

Key recommendations include improving and increased monitoring activities and health studies, prioritize addressing chemical exposure in women and children, ensure safe water supply and backup water sources and change and enforce chemical safety laws, among others.

The tour was conducted between February and April, when kids were still in school and many parents were concerned about bottled water distribution. Nye said those concerns came up often in the listening sessions, especially when school workers experienced adverse health affects when flushing the schools' pipes.

"During theses sessions, we were still amid the water crisis," Nye said. "I think one was the day of or the day after that series of five school closures that happened. There was a real concern that all schools had clean drinking water at least until the end of the year."

Pomponio pointed out not much is known about MCHM, the chemical that leaked from a storage tank at Freedom Industries into the Elk River. That concerned a lot of women, who were not worrying just about their families, but also their own health. Many supported the idea of continued medical monitoring.

"Some of the key recommendations are in the report and they include improving and increasing monitoring activities and health studies," she said. "We know from the fallout that so little was known about MCHM and that created a lot of fear and anxiety for women and their families. We want to lift that up and support that recommendation."

The report was put together by Human Impact Partners, a national organization dedicated to transforming "the policies and places people need to live healthy lives by increasing the consideration of health and equity in decision making." Pomponio said in the aftermath of the spill, she reached out to national colleagues asking them to support those affected any way possible. Human Impact Partners donated time pro bono to pull together the report, even going as far as to use a researcher in Mexico.

Pomponio said the report and recommendations grew from a grassroots effort, and she'd like to see that level of community engagement continue as the area recovers from the spill and beyond.

"We hope to draw attention to the fact that West Virginia has some of the most polluted waters in the country and that pollution poses grave concerns and risks for our reproductive health," she said.

The Women and Water Report is available online at www.wvfree.org.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.

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Doc at W.Va. pain clinic had Texas license revoked http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/ARTICLE/140729804 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/ARTICLE/140729804 Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:42:34 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The operator of a West Virginia pain management clinic where an investigation found needles were being reused on patients had his medical license revoked in Texas a decade ago.

Health officials in Ohio and West Virginia advised patients of Valley Pain Management in McMechen on Monday to be tested for blood-borne infectious diseases after an investigation found needles and syringes were reused to administer pain medications and saline solutions.

The clinic is operated by Dr. Roland Chalifoux Jr. His attorney, Elgine McArdle of Wheeling, calls the investigation a "fishing expedition."

In 2004, the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners revoked Chalifoux's license for violating standards of care in the treatment of three patients, one of whom died.

The West Virginia Board of Osteopathy granted him a license in 2005.

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Possible unsafe practices found at W.Va. clinic http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140721/ARTICLE/140729897 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140721/ARTICLE/140729897 Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:33:40 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Health officials in Ohio and West Virginia on Monday advised patients of a pain management clinic in the Northern Panhandle to be tested for blood-borne infectious diseases after an investigation found potentially unsafe injection practices.

The investigation by West Virginia health officials found that, prior to November 2013, needles and syringes were reused at Valley Pain Management to administer pain medications and saline solutions, and the same pain medication vial was used for more than one patient, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the Ohio Department of Health said in separate news releases.

These injection practices potentially exposed patients to diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, the agencies said.

McMechen is located in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle across the Ohio River from Ohio.

"Our primary responsibility in public health is to protect the public. While we cannot determine if these procedures caused any illnesses, it is possible this practice may have exposed Valley Pain Management patients to infections," Dr. Letitia Tierney, West Virginia Bureau for Public Health commissioner and state health officer, said in the DHHR's release.

The DHHR and the Ohio department advised patients to be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV if they had an injection procedure between the clinic's 2010 opening and Nov. 1, 2013.

Both agencies said the clinic has not cooperated with their requests for a patient list, which they are seeking so patients can be notified of their potential risk of exposure and testing options.

The clinic did not immediately return a telephone message Monday.

The DHHR said it issued an administrative subpoena to obtain the patient list and "is prepared to institute legal action if the clinic does not comply with subpoena." The Ohio department said it is reviewing potential legal options.

"Meanwhile, ODH is working with the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation to identify their consumers who have been Valley Pain Management patients," the Ohio department said.

In West Virginia, testing is available at local health departments in Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties.

The Ohio department recommends that the clinic's Ohio patients talk to their primary care providers about arranging testing, said Maureen Murphy-Weiss, the department's program manager of viral hepatitis prevention.

"If someone has been a Valley Pain Management patient and received injections, it does not mean that he or she has contracted an infectious disease. It is impossible to predict which patients were potentially exposed to infectious diseases," Murphy-Weiss said in the release.

"Some patients could have these serious diseases without any symptoms, and the sooner they are detected, the quicker treatment can begin," she said.

Ohio residents who do not have health insurance can obtain instructions about arranging testing by calling the Ohio department at 844-593-5184.

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Citizens at health board meeting call for more monitoring http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140717/DM01/140719372 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140717/DM01/140719372 Thu, 17 Jul 2014 19:42:53 -0400 By Josephine Mendez CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Members of the public at the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health meeting Thursday evening raised a call for more monitoring of the after-effects of the January chemical spill, in light of new information from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

A study released by the CSB in Charleston on Wednesday revealed chemicals were likely to have been leaking into the Elk River prior to Jan. 9, the date the leak was discovered by state officials.

A portion of the CSB's presentation was shown at the meeting by Nasandra Wright, the director of environmental health and safety. It showed holes, caused by corrosion due to water pooling, in three tanks that also contained a mixture of MCHM and PPH.

"Even though the incidents were highlighted on Jan. 9 there is a possibility, and it appears from the (CSB) preliminary findings, that it may have been leaking prior to Jan. 9," Wright said. "Which leaves a lot of questions still unanswered . . . With the limited information that we know about the chemical - all the unknowns - the question still remains, where do we go from here?"

Maya Nye, the executive director for the People Concerned about Chemical Safety, said the new information is disturbing. Her organization is also petitioning the Centers for Disease Control for continued testing of MCHM.

"We need to put more pressure on the federal government and the CDC to assist our health officers for proper monitoring," Nye said. "This is not going to go away. We also need individual citizens to speak out about this and prove that one person can make a difference."

Among the concerned citizens present at the meeting was Charleston native Linda Sodaro, who grew up across the street from the Freedom Industries facility.

"We have a responsibility to pay attention to what is going on," Sodaro said. "That is my river they poisoned."

Along with Sodaro was a local mother, Karan Ireland, who said had she began to notice an odd licorice smell, which she would later find out was due to MCHM, coming from her upstairs bathroom three days before the chemical leak was reported. She is thankful for the work the board of health has done since the leak but said she is still disturbed and waiting for an apology to come from state agencies and public officials for their part in the preventable incident.

"I would like other agencies and our top official to stop saying why we can't do (more monitoring) and I would like the federal government to step up and make sure this doesn't happen again," Ireland said.

Health Board President Brenda Isaac was also unanimously re-elected to her post Thursday evening and she said she is looking forward to facing these and other challenges head on.

The next Board of Health meeting will be at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 18.

Contact writer Josephine Mendez at jozy.mendez@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-7917. Follow her at www.lifeofanintern-charlestondailymail.blogspot.com.

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Rockefeller presses NCAA president on student-athlete exploitation http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140709/DM0104/140709301 DM0104 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140709/DM0104/140709301 Wed, 9 Jul 2014 18:25:40 -0400 By Whitney Burdette CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association said he would like to see changes in how the organization treats student-athletes, but Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., remains skeptical.

NCAA president Mark Emmert joined other experts and former student-athletes to testify Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee. Emmert said he is willing to work with college presidents to reform how student-athletes are treated and how money earned from athletic programs is reinvested in the universities.

"I agree there needs to be many important changes made and many university presidents agree with me," Emmert said.

Some of those changes include scholarships for life, meaning a student-athlete can return to campus and receive an education if he or she faces adversity that causes them to leave the team. Those scholarships would cover the full and actual cost of attendance, not just room and board. Additionally, the NCAA would work with colleges and universities to address sexual assault issues and support victims. Gaps in health insurance would be closed and the academic success of students would remain the NCAA's top priority.

But Rockefeller said he doesn't think university presidents would be willing to work with the NCAA because of the money powerhouse programs bring to the schools.

"My cynical self says universities like things exactly the way they are because they're making so much money," Rockefeller said.

According to William Bradshaw, past president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, the NCAA awards $2.1 billion in athletic scholarships and that number continues to increase. Although student-athletes are considered amateurs, the NCAA doesn't treat them as such, contends Taylor Branch, an author who has written several books on the subject. He says revenue from TV contracts cause the NCAA to enact rules as an objective requirement rather than a subjective choice.

"This is problematic because attempts to regulate personal motivation and belief commonly run afoul of the Constitution," Branch said. "Even if internal standards were allowed, and somehow could be measured, NCAA rules contradict their requirement that college sports must be an 'avocation' or calling."

In recent months, college athletes have pushed for more recognition by their universities. The Northwestern University football team is attempting to unionize, but the university is appealing a decision by the National Labor Relations Board in support of the players' case

"Like workers everywhere, they want a voice on the job - and don't let anyone tell you these football players are not working for the university and padding its bottom line through their jobs on the football field," Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, wrote on the organization's Web site in April, according to the Washington Post. "They want and deserve a say in how they spend as many as 60 hours a week under the tight control of coaches and the university, in honing their football skills while finding enough hours outside of football to keep up with their demanding academic responsibilities."

Rockefeller argued in his opening statement that the NCAA has lost sight of its mission - to help student-athletes earn an education - and has instead become undermined by power and money.

"Critics of big-time college athletics say that the goal of these programs is not to provide young people with a college education, but to produce a winning program that reaps financial rewards for athletic departments and their schools," he said. "It's not about the students."

Rockefeller, critical of how the NCAA handles student-athletes, said it's difficult to ascertain how much money generated by college athletics is funneled back into the school, namely into academic programs. He also worries smaller schools who can't compete financially with larger institutions are losing out.

"Athletics to me are meant to serve schools and their public duty to educate students, not the other way around," Rockefeller said. "That's the way its put forward and the way it ought to be."

Rockefeller said the Senate Commerce Committee will continue investigating the issue and plans to hold more hearings in the future. Emmert said he supports the inquiry and is willing to help Congress find a solution to problems that plague college athletics.

"There are changes to policy and culture that are needed and they require frank conversations . . . and serious actions," he said.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney. burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.

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April survey finds residents wary of water http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140707/DM01/140709488 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140707/DM01/140709488 Mon, 7 Jul 2014 21:27:42 -0400 By Dave Boucher Residents continued to avoid drinking their tap water and reported negative health effects months after the January chemical leak, according to a new survey released Monday.

While almost every household contacted in early April that received water from the company affected by the leak said they were bathing, washing clothes and dishes with the water, only about one-third said they were drinking it.

The same survey said a little more than 20 percent of all households contacted experienced a negative health effect related to the chemical.

The survey, a Community Assess for Public Health Emergency Response, or CASPER, study, mirrors other health data released by county officials, according to a state news release.

"This further supports the need for additional studies to determine the long-term effects of MCHM on humans," said state Epidemiologist Loretta Haddy.

In early January at least 10,000 gallons of MCHM and other chemicals leaked from a facility owned by Freedom Industries into the Elk River. The chemicals overwhelmed the nearby West Virginia American Water Co. treatment facility, sending chemically tainted water to roughly 300,000 people for weeks.

From April 8 to 10, representatives with the state Bureau for Public Health and U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted surveys at homes in the affected area.

The final report says only 75 percent of households contacted are actually customers of West Virginia American Water and receive water from the affected plant.

That means 43 of the 171 "housing units" contacted for the survey received water from the contaminated plant. Including the houses that did not receive such water, survey representatives contacted less than 1 percent of the 122,000 units the survey identified as those within the water company's do-not-use area.

Some details in the survey only includes information from households receiving water from the contaminated site. Others, like how many homes reported negative health effects, include data provided by homes that don't receive water from the affected treatment plant.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources said the survey was conducted "using valid statistical methods."

About 62 percent of households receiving water from the plant reported not using their tap water when the do-not-use order was in effect. The order was lifted for most of the area after about two weeks.

That ratio went up only about 6 percentage points after the order was lifted but before the end of January, according to the survey. Of those using the water at that time, only about 14 percent were drinking it, the report states.

By the time the survey was conducted, 98 percent of respondents said they were using the water.

About 85 percent of those receiving water from the affected plant said they thought the water was "safe" before the leak, according to the report. Only 36 percent of the same population said they thought the water was "safe" after the ban was lifted.

The survey found about 23 percent of all households surveyed reported an ailment or health symptom they believed connected to the spill.

A survey conducted in early April by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department said about 32 percent of roughly 500 people contacted thought they experienced negative health symptoms related to the leak. Similar to the CASPER study, about one-third of respondents said they were drinking their tap water.

West Virginia American Water recently reported it had finished replacing all of the water filters at the affected plant, and testing results from the plant showed no detectable levels of the chemical in the water.

The report recommends the state encourage people to store at least a three-day supply of water at their homes. It also suggested the state look into more ways to provide water from a different source in the event of another disaster and "increase community education" about water safety.

A copy of the 66-page report is available at www.dailymailwv.com.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.

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West Virginia black lung clinics receive funding http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140702/DM0104/140709809 DM0104 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140702/DM0104/140709809 Wed, 2 Jul 2014 21:17:32 -0400 By Whitney Burdette Black lung clinics across West Virginia will receive federal funding, though the amount may be less than expected.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced Wednesday the state Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia Primary Care Association will receive $626,520 each through the Black Lung Clinics Program, awarded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. Louise Reese, executive director of the Primary Care Association, said HRSA recently changed the rules for states and organizations to apply for federal black lung clinic funding, capping the amount each state could receive.

"West Virginia traditionally had one of the largest grants because of the rurality, the need and the capacity within the state to care for patients who have black lung," Reese said. "Nine health centers receive funding to provide black lung services. When they changed the rules, it handicapped the state's ability. They put a cap on the funding and that cap was significantly lower than what they had applied for in previous years."

According to previous Daily Mail reports , the cap was placed at $900,000. West Virginia was the only state affected by the cap because it's the only state to receive more than $900,000 in federal grant money in 2013. In an effort to maintain that level of funding, the state for the first time submitted two grants - one from DHHR and a complimentary grant from the Primary Care Association.

Each application, requesting $900,000, were submitted in March. However, the DHHR and Primary Care Association each only received about two-thirds of their requested amount, about $626,000, for a total of just over $1.2 million. That's down from the $1.4 million HRSA awarded the state last year.

State officials were hopeful the federal government would award the whole $1.8 million requested, although they acknowledged in April HRSA could award less.

That presents a challenge to the Primary Care Association, which supports the nine member health centers through educational services, technical support and advocacy.

"When you heard we received less, yes we have received less," Reese said. "The (DHHR) and the association will have to go back and submit new budgets with reduced funding and determine how we can provide sufficient resources to the health center. That's the most important piece of this."

Dr. Letitia Tierney, the state's public health officer, said the DHHR is disappointed HRSA couldn't fully fund the state's black lung clinics.

"We are extremely disappointed in the funding approved for West Virginia's Black Lung Program and by the unfair cap-and-tier system that only affects West Virginia," Tierney said. "Besides the reduction, we have to now pay administrative costs, which means less money to support the clinics. Additionally, HRSA failed to provide any legitimate reasons for the funding award changes."

HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield said program changes were announced in September 2012 and the agency sought comment from states and organizations.

"Representatives from the state of West Virginia, as well as community-based organizations in the state, also provided input into the process," she wrote. Reese said each clinic will decide how it responds to the reduced funding, and cuts in services and staff is not off the table.

"Each health center will have to assess their own program and make adjustments accordingly," she said. "I'm sure there will be a reduction in services and or staffing, but it may vary by organization."

Members of West Virginia's congressional delegation have been working behind the scenes to secure full funding for the state's black lung clinics, which serve 8,500 miners at 18 clinics statewide.

"Every single miner who suffers from black lung disease should receive the best treatment and medical care, and this funding helps make that possible," Manchin said. "Our coal miners have mined the coal that keeps our lights on, heats our homes and powers our businesses.

The health and safety of our miners has always been one of the Mountain State's top priorities, and I will continue to make sure our miners are always taken care of and supported."

In March, Manchin, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Nick Rahall wrote to HRSA criticizing the changes in black lung funding. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, expressed their frustration at the funding cap, and Capito called it "illogical." Tomblin pointed out West Virginia is the only state that would see a decrease in funding. The director of HRSA, in response to the letter from Manchin, Rockefeller and Rahall, suggested the state submit two grant applications.

Rahall and Rockefeller each issued statements Wednesday, thanking HRSA for the funds but acknowledging more needs to be done.

"I am pleased to have advocated on behalf of this critical funding and worked with Sens. Rockefeller and Manchin in getting every dollar possible for our clinics - it's more than we expected under the new application process and just shy of full funding," Rahall said. "Although it is less than what our state needs, it will go a long way in helping to provide the medical care and treatment our coal miners and families need and deserve."

Rockefeller's statement echoed Manchin, pointing out the importance of coal miners to the state's economy.

"Our miners have dedicated their lives to their work, and we owe it to them and their families to provide them with the timely treatment of black lung disease," Rockefeller said. "This award is promising news for miners and families, but with West Virginia still leading in the number of cases of black lung disease, we cannot rest until our state's black lung clinics have all the resources necessary to care for our miners."

Reese said the PCA appreciates receiving the funding, although it was less than expected.

"We're appreciative of the funding," she said. "We at least appreciate HRSA acknowledged their new funding methodology has a negative impact in a very rural state. Allowing two applications to be funded at least repairs some of that loss. We are appreciative."

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.

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Officials warn consumers to celebrate Independence Day safely http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140701/DM01/140709919 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140701/DM01/140709919 Tue, 1 Jul 2014 20:37:34 -0400 By Shawnee Moran CHARLESTON, W.Va. - With the Fourth of July coming up Friday, many people are stocking up on snappers, smoke balls and sparklers in anticipation of the big celebration.

However Nikki Flemming, a spokesperson for the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, said these seemingly harmless novelty fireworks, along with other legal fireworks, can cause a lot of damage if they aren't handled properly.

"We know the majority of (firework-related) injuries occur within 30 days surrounding the Fourth of July - 65 percent of injuries happen within this time," she said. "This is the time of year where consumers need to be more cautious."

According to the commission, there were approximately 11,400 firework-related injuries reported in the United States in 2013. Flemming said that is an alarming 30 percent increase from the previous year.

Mark Lambert, the chief investigator for the West Virginia State Fire Marshal Office, said he thinks people get hurt because they don't take time to fully read instructions before using the fireworks.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission agrees, stating in a recent report that improper use and device malfunction are two of the biggest reasons people are injured during those 30 days. They reported more than half of the injuries sustained were to those under 20 years of age.

West Virginia state law declares nobody under 16 years of age is allowed to purchase sparklers or novelties - and perhaps for a good reason.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that there were more than 2,000 reported injuries associated with sparklers that landed people in the emergency room for treatment. Of the firework-related injuries reported, 36 percent were burns to the hands and fingers and 22 percent were to the face, head and ears.

Flemming said she wants to keep sparklers out of the hands of children to prevent them from being seriously burned.

"Sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees, which is as hot as a blowtorch," she said. "Consumers may believe that a sparkler is innocuous enough to give to a child, but (you should) never allow young children to use a sparkler."

Ralph Apel, a spokesperson for The National Council of Firework Safety, said people need to teach their children to handle fireworks in a safe way and supervise them when they are handling sparklers. He compared teaching children to run the weed eater or learning to drive with fireworks - they can use them safely if they are taught how to use them properly.

"People think of novelty fireworks as children's fireworks - snappers are very innocuous, smoke balls don't burn real hot," he said, but that perception can be deceiving.

"Just take the time to teach the children about fireworks about how they work, the dangers of the heat they produce and the proper way to handle it."

Apel said one thing his group likes to suggest is for people to have a designated firework shooter through the course of the evening. He explained these people should read the labels on fireworks beforehand so they can find out what the firework will do before they even light a fuse.

Flemming urged users to always inspect the packaging of consumer fireworks, which are brightly packaged and include manufacturing information and a warning label. Illegal fireworks, which come in unmarked packages, can contain a large amount of flash powder and can be extremely dangerous.

She said everyone should take the same precautions no matter what type of fireworks they plan to set off.

"If you do choose to light a consumer firework, you never want to relight or pick up a firework that doesn't go off. Douse (it) with a bucket of water. Light (them) one at a time on a flat, dry surface and never have your body over the device as you are lighting the fuse," she said.

"We want everyone to have a safe and happy July Fourth, and we don't want anyone's celebration to end up taking a trip to the emergency room."

To report the selling of illegal fireworks, contact local authorities or the National Council on Fireworks Safety at fireworkssafety.org.

Contact writer Shawnee Moran at 304-348-4872 or shawnee.moran@dailymailwv.com. Follow her on Twitter @shawneemoran22.

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New technology develops better personalized cancer treatments http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140629/DM01/140629220 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140629/DM01/140629220 Sun, 29 Jun 2014 20:30:10 -0400 By Josephine Mendez Two professors from Marshall University developed a new way to personalize chemotherapy treatments that has proved to be 100 percent accurate thus far.

The process, called ChemoID, was created by Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, associate professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Jagan Valluri, professor at the Department of Biological Sciences.

The ChemoID Assay testing process starts by taking a sample from a small tumor. Bulk tumor cells and cancer stem cells are then grown from the sample and treated with various chemotherapeutic agents to determine how many tumor-derived cells and CSCs are killed and how many remain after the use of each drug.

"The ChemoID test is truly what we call a second generation test because we are not only targeting the bulk of the tumor but we are also targeting the root of the tumor which is the cancer stem cells," Valluri said.

By testing several chemotherapies on a patient's tumor cells before treating a cancer patient, ChemoID ensures a faster reaction time by selecting the most favorable chemotherapy drug.

It also has the potential to decrease the number of toxins the patients is exposed to during treatments and increases the survival rate for cancer patients, according to Claudio and Valluri's research.

"Instead of going through trial and error we are providing a better pair of glasses for oncologists to make a decision on which chemotherapy will work the best for an individual patient," Claudio said. "This can increase the chances for a patient to have longer periods of remission or even possibly a cure."

The two began developing this ChemoID research 10 years ago and in 2010 they moved into the clinical trial phase of their research. Out of the 130 cases in the trial, 68 of them have been analyzed and show the treatment selected by ChemoID to be 100 percent effective.

Some clinical trial patients had previously undergone failed chemotherapy treatments, but after using the chemotherapy selected by the ChemoID Assay test the patients have been in remission for at least six months.

"If we do ChemoID testing on cancer patients after initial diagnosis we can provide a much more favorable outcome because ineffective chemotherapies do not make the cancer very strong or resistant," Valluri said.

ChemoID also helps lower the costs of treatments by eliminating unnecessary and ineffective chemotherapies.

During their study, Valluri said they researched the amount of money spent on cancer treatment in West Virginia. They found that each year there are about 3,600 new Medicaid cancer patients and $100,000 to 200,000 is spent in treating these patients. Thirty percent of the costs are chemotherapy drug-related costs.

"If this technology is deployed early on for all newly diagnosed patients we can save the state anywhere from $25-30 million," Valluri said. "That's a huge saving for personalizing chemotherapy and to the point that you deselect the wrong chemotherapy and dial in the right chemotherapy for the patient."

Although Claudio and Valluri started with testing tumor samples from hospitals in West Virginia, they have received samples from Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and even Europe.

Starting Sept. 1, in collaboration with the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center and Cabell Huntington Hospital, this type of testing will be offered to all cancer patients nationwide.

"Since this technology will be commercially available in a CLIA (clinical laboratory improvement amendments) certified laboratory at the Cabell Huntington Hospital we can receive samples from anywhere in state but also from anywhere in the U.S. and also from abroad," Valluri said.

In order to get the word out about ChemoID, Claudio will attend the Fifth International Conference on Recent Advances in Health and Medical Sciences July 6-12 in Paphos, Cyprus. During the conference, Claudio will present that data from the clinical studies as well as other research conducted which proves the numerous benefits of ChemoID.

Their next goal is to receive a 510K clearance. This would make ChemoID more accessible for all cancer patients. Right now the test can only be issued at the request of an oncologist.

Contact writer Josephine Mendez at jozy.mendez@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-7917. Follow her at www.lifeofanintern-charlestondailymail.blogspot.com.

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W.Va. suspects case of mosquito-borne virus http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140627/ARTICLE/140629354 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140627/ARTICLE/140629354 Fri, 27 Jun 2014 10:20:42 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - State health officials say they're investigating West Virginia's first suspected case of a nasty mosquito-borne virus.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health says the suspected case involved a traveler to another country.

West Virginia officials say the state is waiting for confirmatory testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chikungunya originated in Africa and appeared in the Caribbean last year. Health officials say the virus causes flu-like symptoms with a high fever and joint pain.

The CDC says 80 cases of chikungunya have been recorded in 13 states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

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State, county officials discuss chemical spill in Washington http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140626/DM0104/140629442 DM0104 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140626/DM0104/140629442 Thu, 26 Jun 2014 16:30:47 -0400

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two of the state's top health officials met with members of Congress earlier this week to discuss continued funding for health studies concerning the Freedom Industries chemical spill.

Karen Bowling, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Resources, and Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, met with four of five members of the state's congressional delegation, stressing to them the need for continued assistance from federal agencies to determine if MCHM could have long-lasting health effects.

Senate Bill 373, often referred to as the "spill bill," requires the Bureau for Public Health to further study the chemical spill and any health effects it may cause.

"I was very pleased with the response we received from our congressional delegation and the partnership Dr. Gupta and I have formed to make this case for necessary funding," Bowling said. "With the passage of Senate Bill 373, DHHR's Bureau for Public Health is charged with exploring further study regarding any long-term health effects of the spill into the Elk River."

Bowling and Gupta met with Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Jay Rockefeller's staff and Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and Nick Rahall to talk about the need for the funding of medical monitoring and animal studies to determine potential long-term effects on humans.

"The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) looked at a narrow body of research in making the decision not to fund additional studies in West Virginia," Gupta said. "Since CDC officials made their decision, there has been more research done. Secretary Bowling and I asked our congressional delegation to work with us to influence the CDC to reconsider its initial decision."

In addition, the National Science Foundation has denied funding to three spill-related grants the local health department submitted. The CDC has implemented monitoring programs in other states.

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West Virginia's two Republican representatives are taking the lead on energy.

Rep. David McKinley has been named vice chairman of the National Energy Efficiency Board's Board of Directors of the Alliance to Save Energy. Members of that board include leaders in government, business and the nonprofit sector.

"Making America more energy independent has been one of my top priorities since coming to Congress in 2011," McKinley said. "Energy efficiency makes sense for so many reasons. It creates jobs and benefits our economy while reducing energy costs. It's an honor to be part of the Alliance to Save Energy."

Meanwhile, a bill cosponsored by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

Capito voted to support bipartisan legislation that would expedite the export of liquefied natural gas and reduce the backlog of pending export applications at the U.S. Department of Energy. The department would be required, under House Resolution 6, to make a final decision on an application within 30 days of the completion of the National Environmental Policy Act review.

"New technologies have unlocked vast resources of natural gas across the country, and if you want to see what this can do for a region, look at Northern West Virginia," Capito said. "The Marcellus and Utica shales mean more jobs for West Virginians. This bill will create jobs in West Virginia and across the country, grow our nation's economy and strengthen our relationships with our allies."

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Alex Mooney, Republican nominee for U.S. House of Representatives in the state's 2nd Congressional District, can add another group to his growing list of endorsements.

The National Federation of Independent Business' SAFE Trust said it supports Mooney's "blend of small-business and legislative experience."

"His being a member of NFIB is an additional credential that will prove beneficial in tackling the issues vital to Main Street, mom-and-pop enterprises that employ most working Americans and generate almost every new job," said Lisa Goeas, vice president for political and grassroots at NFIB.

NFIB's state director, L. Gil White, said Mooney has experience as a small business owner and knows the difficulties entrepreneurs face.

"As a small business owner, he has firsthand knowledge of what it takes to keep the doors open and paydays met," White said. "And as a former state representative, he's well acquainted with the difficulties small business owners face in their interaction with government and its regulations. He's been a particular champion for the rights of independent contractors."

The SAFE Trust, which stands for Save America's Free Enterprise, is the political action committee of NFIB, which has more than 350,000 members nationwide, including 1,800 in West Virginia.

Compiled by Whitney Burdette

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