www.charlestondailymail.com Health http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Fighting Ebola means sweating in protective suit at 115 degrees http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141009/DM01/141009215 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141009/DM01/141009215 Thu, 9 Oct 2014 16:17:25 -0400

By MAKIKO KITAMUR

Bloomberg News

BRUSSELS - Inside the eight-piece protective suits worn by doctors on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak, the temperature reaches at least 115 degrees Fahrenheit. But one of the most dangerous moments on the job is going through the 12 steps to take the suit off, which can take 30 minutes.

On a fallow field behind a logistics warehouse in Brussels, Doctors Without Borders runs a training camp for medical staff heading to Ebola hot spots in West Africa. After a full day of classroom instruction on everything from preparation of chlorine solutions to how to safely bury the dead, 12 participants gather inside a tent that simulates an emergency treatment center.

They're here to learn that if they wear glasses, they need anti-fog spray to cope with 90 percent humidity. Not an inch of skin can be exposed, and the protective hood should cover the eyebrows. They should breathe and move slowly to deal with the suffocating heat. They're advised to bring lots of extra socks as they'll become soaked in sweat, and wet socks can lead to blisters.

"The first 15 minutes I was just hot," said Douglas Lyon, a physician and epidemiologist from Portland, Oregon, on his way to Sierra Leone. "After that I was hot and had a wicked headache. Each breath in was a mix of a hint of cool relief and the feeling of suffocation. Each breath out was as warm and hot and humid as the rest of you."

In the current Ebola outbreak, the worst ever, more than 300 health workers have been infected and about half have died, highlighting the need for protective gear and proper training on wearing and removing it. Doctors Without Borders had never had a case of Ebola infection among its international workers until earlier this month, when the non-profit aid group said a French staff member had the disease. It's investigating how that occurred.

One of the riskiest steps is taking off the suit without touching the yellow exterior that may be compromised with infectious blood or other fluids. Participants at the training, sweat pouring down their faces, were visibly frustrated trying to remove pant legs over boots without using their hands. In between stripping off each item - the first of two sets of gloves, apron, goggles, hood, coverall, mask, boots - hands must be washed in chlorinated water, a crucial step that's easy to neglect.

"When you're putting it on, it's all clean, so if you make a mistake, you can readjust things," said Lyon, whose work with Doctors Without Borders began in 1994 at a Hutu refugee camp in Zaire amid a cholera epidemic. "But taking it off, you can't make a mistake. Even though you've been sprayed with chlorine, there's always a chance there's something on you."

For a novice, the removal process can take 30 minutes. Doctors repeat the steps as many as four or five times a day, as the 115-degree (46 Celsius) heat and humidity sap their concentration at every stage.

"Believe it or not, many people don't know how to remove protective clothing in a way that keeps them safe," said Ian Lipkin, an infectious disease and outbreak response expert at Columbia University in New York.

Failing to get it right obviates the need for wearing protective equipment in the first place, said Lipkin, who was chief scientific consultant for the film "Contagion," a thriller about the rapid spread of a virus. "You need to make certain these people are well-trained."

Inadequate instruction - and in some cases a lack of availability of the protective gear - are among reasons that health workers have been infected, according to the World Health Organization.

A shortage of workers means they are overburdened and make mistakes when tired, said the Geneva-based group, which last month issued a "rapid update" of 2008 guidelines for dealing with Ebola patients. The group advises national health authorities and trains local health workers.

Doctors Without Borders, which trains all of its medical- care providers in using the clothing, recently ordered 25,000 sets, figuring that's a two-month supply for operating one Ebola care center in Liberia and doing community outreach.

The International Medical Corps, another group fighting Ebola, says a treatment facility with 70 patients goes through about 200 sets of protective clothing a day. A 50-bed treatment center costs about $1 million a month to run, the group said.

The protective items cost about 60 euros ($77) a set, and Doctors Without Borders, largely supported by private donations and known as Medecins Sans Frontieres in much of the world, pays the bill. After each use, the clothing is incinerated with other medical waste. Manufacturers include DuPont for full-body suits, Dunlop for boots, Uvex Group for goggles and Kanam Latex Industries for gloves.

Doctors perform blood tests to confirm Ebola cases, and then give supportive care such as antibiotics and intravenous fluids or oral rehydration with solutions that contain electrolytes.

Since the start of the outbreak in December, the virus has infected 5,864 people, killing 2,811, according to a Sept. 22 WHO report. The disease has reached five West African countries, accelerating in cities including Monrovia, Liberia's capital. Most cases have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The outbreak could spread to hundreds of thousands more people, according to a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate. There may be 550,000 to 1.4 million cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone by January, using a model that assumes a significant failure of public health efforts and underreporting of cases.

The World Health Organization saidlast week there may be 21,000 cases by November - in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea - if control efforts aren't quickly increased.

There is no cure for the virus, which is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person. The hope is that a patient's immune system will fight off the aggressive attack. Ebola causes fever, diarrhea, muscle pain and vomiting, and as it progresses can lead to bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose.

Beyond the health crisis, the World Bank warned that economic costs may escalate to "catastrophic" proportions and U.S. President Barack Obama has said that Ebola poses a threat to global security.

As infection numbers spiral upward, doctors will be challenged with overflowing caseloads and increasingly limited time with each patient. And they won't be able to interact with the sick the way they are accustomed to.

"In my spacesuit, I won't be able to connect and provide reassurance with a smile, body language or a concerned look," Lyon said. "I won't be able to provide a reassuring human touch or even listen to their lungs or heart and what I believe to be my best physician strength - cool clarity of mind. This will be much harder to find."

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Woman with cancer plans to take her life in Oregon http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141008/ARTICLE/141009295 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141008/ARTICLE/141009295 Wed, 8 Oct 2014 17:51:03 -0400

By STEVEN DUBOIS

The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. - Brittany Maynard will not live to see if her advocacy makes a difference.

The 29-year-old woman expects to die no later than Nov. 1. If the brain cancer from which she suffers does not kill her in October, she plans to take advantage of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act and end her own life on the first of November - a few days after her husband's 30th birthday.

Maynard and her husband, Dan Diaz, uprooted from Northern California and moved north because Oregon allows terminally ill patients to end their lives with lethal medications prescribed by a doctor.

Rather than silently await death in Portland, she has become an advocate for the group Compassion & Choices, which seeks to expand death-with-dignity laws beyond Oregon and a handful of other states.

A nationwide media campaign featuring Maynard's story began Monday, and has gone viral.

"I can't even tell you the amount of relief that it provides me to know that I don't have to die the way that it's been described to me, that my brain tumor would take me on its own," she says in an online video.

Oregon in 1997 became the first state to make it legal for a doctor to prescribe a life-ending drug to a terminally ill patient of sound mind who makes the request. The patient must swallow the drug without help; it is illegal for a doctor to administer it.

More than 750 people in Oregon used the law to die as of Dec. 31, 2013. The median age of the deceased is 71. Only six were younger than 34, like Maynard.

The state does not track how many terminally ill people move to Oregon to die. One of the "frequently asked questions" on the state Public Health Division website is: "How long does someone have to be a resident of Oregon to participate in the act?"

There is no minimum residency requirement, but a patient must prove to a doctor they are living in the state. Some examples of documentation include a rental agreement, an Oregon voter registration card or a state driver's license.

Maynard said she and her husband were newlyweds actively trying for a family when she learned on New Year's Day that she had brain cancer. By spring, she was given just six months to live.

"I hope to enjoy however many days I have on this beautiful earth and spend as much of it outside as I can surrounded by those I love," Maynard said in the video.

Barbara Coombs Lee, the author of Oregon's law and the president of Compassion & Choices, said Maynard approached the group in August.

"Our campaign now is to build public awareness, build public support so great that the politicians can no longer deny it," she said.

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First Ebola patient diagnosed in the US has died http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141008/ARTICLE/141009325 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141008/ARTICLE/141009325 Wed, 8 Oct 2014 15:25:04 -0400

By NOMAAN MERCHANT

The Associated Press

DALLAS - The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States died in a Dallas hospital Wednesday, a little more than a week after his illness exposed gaps in the nation's defenses against the disease and set off a scramble to track down anyone exposed to him.

Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, was pronounced dead at 7:51 a.m. at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been kept in isolation since Sept. 28.

"Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease," hospital spokesman Wendell Watson said in a statement.

Duncan carried the deadly virus with him from his home in Liberia, though he showed no symptoms when he left for the United States. He arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20 and fell ill several days later. His condition worsened during the weekend from serious to critical.

Others in Dallas still are being monitored as health officials try to contain the virus that has ravaged West Africa, with more than 3,400 people reported dead. They also are trying to tamp down anxiety among residents frightened of contracting Ebola, though the disease can be spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an already sick person.

Health officials have identified 10 people, including seven health workers, who had direct contact with Duncan while he was contagious. Another 38 people also may have come into contact with him. The four people living in the Dallas apartment where Duncan stayed were moved to another home and are in isolation.

"The past week has been an enormous test of our health system, but for one family it has been far more personal ... They have our sincere condolences, and we are keeping them in our thoughts," Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in statement. "We'll continue every effort to contain the spread of the virus and protect people from this threat."

Of the six Ebola patients treated so far in the U.S., Duncan was the only one not cared for in one of the special hospital units set up to deal with highly dangerous germs. That's because health officials knew the others had Ebola at the time they decided where the patients should go, whereas Duncan sought care at the Texas hospital on his own.

Health officials also have said that any hospital with isolation capabilities can treat Ebola patients, but Duncan's death is sure to renew attention on the Texas hospital's response, especially missing the chance to treat him sooner, when he first sought care.

There is no way to know whether any specific treatment or step might have saved his life, just as whether any experimental drug he did or did not receive helped. He was getting advanced care - dialysis to treat kidney failure, a breathing machine and an experimental antiviral drug - when he died.

Officials have said everyone who potentially had contact with Duncan is being monitored for 21 days, the normal incubation period for the disease.

Duncan passed an airport health screening in Liberia, where his temperature registered as normal and he showed no signs of Ebola symptoms. But a few days after he arrived, he began to have a fever, headache and abdominal pain.

He went to the emergency room of Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas on Sept. 25, but was sent home. By Sept. 28, his condition had worsened and an ambulance took him back to the hospital where he stayed in isolation.

Duncan's family visited Texas Health Presbyterian earlier this week and glimpsed Duncan using a camera system, but said Tuesday they had declined to view him again because the first time had been too upsetting.

"What we saw was very painful. It didn't look good," Duncan's nephew, Josephus Weeks, said Tuesday.

The hospital has changed its explanation several times about when Duncan arrived and what he said about his travel history. The hospital staff did not initially suspect Ebola, even though Duncan told them on his first visit that that he came from West Africa.

The Dallas County medical examiner's office will not be receiving Duncan's body, but investigator Steven Kurtz said he did not know Wednesday what the alternate arrangements would be.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that bodies of Ebola victims not be embalmed and instead suggests they be cremated or promptly buried in a hermetically sealed casket.

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W.Va. gets grant for lead poisoning prevention http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141008/ARTICLE/141009341 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141008/ARTICLE/141009341 Wed, 8 Oct 2014 14:31:10 -0400 BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia will receive a $196,000 federal grant aimed at preventing lead poisoning in children.

Congressman Nick Rahall announced the grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources will use to the funding for a blood lead surveillance program. The DHHR and local health departments will collect and analyze data to identify high-risk areas that would lead to housing and health code enforcement and property improvement.

Rahall says that while lead paint use for homes and in children's toys has been banned since 1978, exposure to lead in older buildings still happens today.

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CAMC doctors office building to be closed through Friday http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141008/DM01/141009351 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141008/DM01/141009351 Wed, 8 Oct 2014 13:39:57 -0400 The Medical Staff Office Building at 3100 MacCorkle Ave. in Kanawha City will likely remain closed through Friday, officials said.

"Crews continue working on a power problem at the building which is next to CAMC Memorial Hospital," said spokesman Dale Witte.

Electrical power went out at the building sometime on Wednesday morning when a circuit breaker failed, Witte said. All electricity went out at the facility, better known to the public as the doctors office building. He did not know exactly what time the power outage occurred or the cause. It was his understanding that staff in the various offices would call patients to inform them of the situation and reschedule appointments as needed.

Later on Wednesday, he said the building would likely be closed through Friday as crews continued to work to solve the problem.

"Patients who have an appointment with a doctor at that building should call before going to that appointment," Witte said. "David Lee Cancer Center patients are being contacted directly for scheduling."

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Officials discuss Ebola preparedness http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141007/DM01/141009385 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141007/DM01/141009385 Tue, 7 Oct 2014 20:41:08 -0400 By Ashley B. Craig Representatives from local health care facilities met to discuss Ebola preparedness in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, heath officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and Putnam County Health Department, said health officials have been monitoring the Ebola crisis in West Africa for several months and have been closely watching the rapidly evolving situation in Dallas, where a Liberian man traveled from Africa with the disease.

"We realized at a local level we need to ensure that the partners in place are working together and that the planning and preparedness are on the same level," Gupta said.

Gupta said they wanted to take the opportunity to bring in other health care partners like local urgent cares and Putnam County facilities, to see where they stood.

Representatives from Charleston Area Medical Center, Thomas Health Systems, Highland Hospital, MedExpress, Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority, Putnam County Emergency Services, Charleston Fire Department and Kanawha-Charleston and Putnam County health departments were in attendance.

The main goal was to ensure "seamless communication and coordination" between agencies in the area, according to a statement from the health department.

"We talked about how to protect those within the health care system, the public at large and provide the highest standard of care if and when they do present suspected cases of Ebola," Gupta said.

He said it is important that the public and health care workers not panic but instead stay informed.

Gupta said the health department is assessed every summer by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its ability to dispense medical countermeasures in the event of a mass casualty situation and that Kanawha-Charleston Health Department scored a 99 out of a possible 100 points in 2014.

He said the health department and facilities in the area are "second to none" but that there is always room for improvement in being more proactive instead of reactive.

"We believe in a proactive approach," Gupta said. "Better prepared communities respond better."

Ebola, which has a fatality rate between 25 percent and 90 percent, is spread by direct contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, according to the World Health Organization.

Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms of the virus, which initially include fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. The illness gets progressively worse after, as vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney or liver function and in some extreme cases internal bleeding begin, according to WHO's website.

The task force discussed infection and reiterated that it could take between two and 21 days for those symptoms to appear.

The outbreak in West Africa has resulted in the deaths of thousands in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and the infection of thousands more. The CDC estimated that without additional interventions or changes in community behavior in Liberia or Sierra Leone, there will be approximately 550,000 people with the virus.

Ebola cases are doubling every 15 to 20 days in Liberia and every 30 to 40 days in Sierra Leone, according to the CDC's website.

While several Americans with the virus have returned to the United States for treatment, Thomas Duncan, who traveled from Liberia to Dallas to visit friends, is the only person diagnosed with the virus in the U.S.

A nurse in Spain is the first known person to contract the virus outside of Africa. She worked on a team treating two men who recently traveled from Africa.

"Travel history to the affected West African countries is the most vital information to raise suspicion in the healthcare system of a possible Ebola infection," Gupta said in the release.

Asking about travel is key in determining if a person has Ebola as opposed to another illness, Dr. David Seidler, CAMC's medical director for emergency services, said in a statement.

"We'll see thousands of people in our community with symptoms consistent with Ebola; the key question is to ask about travel in Africa," Seidler said.

Both CAMC and Thomas Health System already have developed plans to isolate and treat any patient with suspected Ebola.

The task force acknowledged that there already are preliminary preparedness measures in place and that they would continue to plan as a coordinated effort to enhance any other measures as needed, the statement said.

"We hope for the best but we're prepared for the worst," Gupta said.

The task force will meet again in three to four weeks but future meetings will be dictated by world and national events, Gupta said.

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

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Ebola's victims may include dog in Spain http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141007/ARTICLE/141009402 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141007/ARTICLE/141009402 Tue, 7 Oct 2014 18:33:45 -0400

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ebola's victims may include a dog. Officials in Madrid got a court order Tuesday to euthanize the pet of a Spanish nursing assistant with Ebola because of the chance the animal might spread the disease.

At least one major study suggests that dogs can be infected with the deadly virus without having symptoms. But whether or how likely they are to spread it to people is less clear.

Lab experiments on other animals suggest their urine, saliva or stool might contain the virus. That means that in theory, people might catch it through an infected dog licking or biting them, or from grooming.

"Clearly we want to look at all possibilities. We have not identified this as a means of transmission," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The nursing assistant and her husband have been in isolation since she tested positive for Ebola earlier this week. The Madrid regional government got a court order to euthanize their dog, saying "available scientific information" can't rule out it could spread the virus.

The dog's owners don't want it killed. Carlos Rodriguez, a Spanish veterinarian and host of a talk show about animals, said the husband messaged him from the hospital, trying to grant him temporary custody of the dog, a mixed-breed named Excalibur. But now that there is a court order, "I can't stop this happening," Rodriguez said. The husband "asked me, crying, to at least make sure the animal does not suffer."

The Spanish animal rights group Animal Equality complained the authorities wanted to "sacrifice the animal without even diagnosing it or considering the possibility of placing it in quarantine."

It's not clear how effective quarantine would be, since infected dogs don't show symptoms and it's not known how long the virus can last in them, or how long tests would have to be done to check for it.

Dr. Peter Cowen, a veterinarian at North Carolina State University who has advised global health experts on animal infection disease risks, says killing the dog is "clearly an overreaction."

"I think it's very unfortunate they are thinking of euthanizing that dog. They should really study it instead," he said.

"Ebola has never been documented to be spread by a dog," and that's clearly not a major route of spread in the outbreak in Africa, he said.

Ebola's source in nature hasn't been pinpointed. The leading suspect is a certain type of fruit bat, but the World Health Organization lists chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines as possibly playing a role in spread of the disease. Even pig farms may amplify infection because of bats on farms.

The possibility of spread by dogs - at least in Africa - was raised by a 2005 report. Researchers tested dogs during the 2001-2002 Ebola outbreak in Gabon after seeing some of them eating infected dead animals. Of the 337 dogs from various towns and villages, 9 percent to 25 percent showed antibodies to Ebola, a sign they were infected or exposed to the virus.

"I think it's possible" that dogs might spread Ebola, but it's not likely in the U.S. or other places where dogs aren't near corpses or eating infected animals, said Sharon Curtis Granskog, a spokeswoman for the American Veterinary Medical Association.

In Dallas, health officials are monitoring 48 people who may have had contact with Ebola patient Thomas Duncan, but "we are not monitoring any animals at this time," said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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Spanish nurse contracts Ebola http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141006/ARTICLE/141009519 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141006/ARTICLE/141009519 Mon, 6 Oct 2014 18:38:21 -0400

By JORGE SAINZ

The Associated Press

MADRID - In what is the first reported incident of Ebola transmission outside Africa, a Spanish nurse who treated a missionary for the disease at a Madrid hospital tested positive for the disease, Spain's health minister said Monday.

The female nurse was part of the medical team that treated a 69-year-old Spanish priest who died in a hospital last month after being flown back from Sierra Leone, where he was posted, Health Minister Ana Mato said.

The woman went to the Alcorcon hospital in the Madrid suburbs with a fever and was placed in isolation. Mato said the infection was confirmed by two tests and that the nurse was admitted to a hospital on Sunday.

The woman's only symptom was a fever, Antonio Alemany, Madrid director of primary health care, told a news conference. Alemany said authorities are drawing up a list of people the nurse had contact with.

The Spanish priest the nurse helped treat was Manuel Garcia Viejo, who died Sept. 25, becoming the second Spanish missionary to fall victim to the deadly virus. In August, a 75-year-old Spanish priest, Miguel Pajares, was flown back to Spain from Liberia, but died after being treated with the experimental Ebola medicine ZMapp.

World Health Organization officials couldn't immediately be reached after office hours to comment on the case.

The virus that causes Ebola spreads only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person who is showing symptoms.

In West Africa, the disease has spread quickly to family members who cared for the sick or handled their bodies after death.

The World Health Organization estimates has the latest Ebola outbreak has killed more than 3,400 people.

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CDC confirms cases of enterovirus in Kanawha, two other counties http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141003/DM01/141009744 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141003/DM01/141009744 Fri, 3 Oct 2014 12:14:35 -0400 By Samuel Speciale The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Friday three additional cases of Enterovirus D68 in Kanawha, Lincoln and Raleigh counties less than two weeks after reporting its initial spread into West Virginia.

Out of 12 suspected cases at Charleston-area hospitals, three tested positive for EV-D68, said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

One of the patients is a child who resides in Kanawha County, who was admitted earlier in September, treated and discharged. Health officials in Lincoln and Raleigh counties have been notified of the other two confirmed cases.

EV-D68 is a virus that causes respiratory inflammation, fever, runny nose, sneezing and coughing as well as muscle and body aches. An uncommon strain of the virus that causes the common cold, EV-D68 is especially severe for children with asthma or a history of wheezing. While it mostly afflicts children under the age of 5, older children and teenagers also can be susceptible.

This report comes less than two weeks after the CDC confirmed the virus' spread into West Virginia. Those initial cases were in Greenbrier, Wirt and Wood counties.

Specimens from 32 West Virginia counties were tested last month. Samples were taken from sick people in Calhoun, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mercer, Raleigh, Wirt and Wood counties.

The virus, like the common cold, is spread person-to-person through airborne respiratory secretions or those on a contaminated surface. While usually not deadly, the spate of hospitalizations has health officials on alert.

Infection can be avoided by following standard hygiene practices like frequently washing hands with soap and water and covering coughs and sneezes.

There is no vaccine or medication that specifically treats the illness, but mild symptoms can be remedied by over-the-counter medication. Those with severe symptoms may need to be hospitalized.

The revelation that a Kanawha County child contracted the virus has the school system on alert, said Brenda Isaac, head of school nurses.

She said nurses and other school officials have taken extra precautions and that "vigilant" cleaning of bathrooms, desks, doorknobs and other shared surfaces is being stressed, especially in younger grades.

EV-D68's quick spread through the country after nearly 50 years of few cases has health officials puzzled, but Isaac said the precaution is normal for this time of year when cold season is at its peak.

Other enteroviruses like hand, foot and mouth disease have spread through the school system, Isaac said.

"So, whenever we see something like this, we double up," she said.

"With this situation,we will monitor the classroom of a student we find out is infected," Isaac added. "We'll follow up with parents to make sure there aren't additional cases."

If a school nurse identifies a student with symptoms, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department will be notified.

"Hopefully, we won't see more cases," Isaac said. "But we could. That's the way virsuses work."

Since mid-August, there have been nearly 500 cases of the infection in 43 states, up from 22 just two weeks ago. As of Friday, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Tennessee are the only states without confirmed cases.

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

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National Hemophilia Foundation opens W.Va. chapter http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141002/ARTICLE/141009849 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141002/ARTICLE/141009849 Thu, 2 Oct 2014 11:46:35 -0400 MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - A national group dedicated to helping people with bleeding disorders has opened an office in Morgantown.

The National Hemophilia Foundation says the addition brings to 52 the number of community-based chapters across the country.

The foundation says there are about 300 people in West Virginia who have bleeding disorders. State chapter executive director Amber Tichnell says the goal is to educate, support and help provide easy access to services for patients.

The state chapter has a partnership with hemophilia treatment centers at Charleston Area Medical Center and at West Virginia University's Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center in Morgantown.

The state chapter plans open houses on Oct. 19 in Charleston and Oct. 26 in Morgantown.

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W.Va. recovery center for addicted newborns opens http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141002/ARTICLE/141009850 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141002/ARTICLE/141009850 Thu, 2 Oct 2014 11:46:10 -0400 HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - A recovery center for babies born addicted to drugs has opened in Huntington.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday for Lily's Place. The privately operated facility weans infants off opiates and other drugs. It also offers support for mothers.

WCHS-TV reports Lily's Place accepts tax-deductible gifts such as diapers and monetary donations.

The facility has treatment agreements with Cabell Huntington Hospital and the Prestera Center.

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Health care advocate set to retire http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141001/DM01/141009903 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141001/DM01/141009903 Wed, 1 Oct 2014 19:37:42 -0400 By Whitney Burdette Consumers should have a voice in their health care and - thanks to Perry Bryant - residents of West Virginia have the opportunity to have a seat at the table.

Perry, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, is set to retire at the end of the year. But as a result of his and the organization's efforts, West Virginians have been able to learn more about the Affordable Care Act and take part in several initiatives to improve their health. Bryant worked for the West Virginia Education Association for about 20 years, representing school service personnel and teachers for the Public Employees Insurance Agency. He said he saw firsthand how union organizations were well represented in the health care discussion, but the same couldn't be said for the average consumer.

"It was apparent to me everybody was represented except for consumers," he said. "There was nobody working full time for health care issues for consumers. Union organizations paid attention to health care issues, but had a whole lot of other things they needed to do. I thought it was important to have one more organization that could represent the interest and work exclusively to represent the interests of consumers on health care issues."

Bryant teamed with others, including former state Sen. Dr. Dan Foster, health care administrator Renate Poore and Sam Hickman, who works with social workers, to form West Virginians for Affordable Health Care. Bryant said the group started out with the goal of getting the Legislature to pass a style of health care similar to what is seen in Vermont. Although Massachusetts is generally seen as the leader for state-sponsored health care, Vermont's plan included aspects the group thought were important to West Virginia.

"We went to the Legislature and convinced them to set up a select committee on health care reform," Bryant said. "We were successful in getting them to hire Ken Thorpe, a health care economist who was the architect of the Vermont legislation. Most people think of Massachusetts as the leading edge of health care reform at a state level. Really, Vermont was a far more important health care reform piece than Massachusetts was. Both expanded health insurance, but Vermont really focused on trying to deal with chronic illness. In West Virginia, you absolutely have to deal with chronic illness to make health care affordable. That's where we spend most of our money."

Bryant said Thorpe's estimates show West Virginia spends 75 percent of health care dollars on chronic diseases, including diabetes and congestive heart failure. One thing Bryant would like to see his successor accomplish is the creation of a multi-payer chronic disease management program. Insurance companies would work together with dietitians, nurse practitioners and the like to address health care issues before they become a bigger problem. Patients would be connected with specialists who understand their unique issues and create a support system of sorts for the patient.

"That is badly needed so we can change the culture in West Virginia," Bryant said. "You can see sprouts of that occurring, but you don't see systemic changes in delivery of health care that I think are really important."

The group also works to educate newly insured patients about the health care system. Because of the Affordable Care Act, many more West Virginians have access to health insurance, either through the market exchange or expanded Medicaid. Either way, Bryant said the group has partnered with the Department of Health and Human Resources and Office of Insurance Commissioner for a Coverage to Care initiative that aims to show new patients how to navigate what can be a complex and cumbersome system.

"We're working to fund focus groups, what are the barriers to health care now that people have an insurance card whether through the marketplace, private products or Medicaid coverage? What are the barriers to coverage? Are they having difficulty finding physicians? Transportation? Do they understand preventive measures are free with no copay or deductible? What preventative measures are available to them?"

Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 - leaving the group's efforts for a state-sponsored health care system null and void - West Virginians for Affordable Health Care has worked to educate consumers about the complex and changing law. They've sponsored several training sessions across the state to help health care navigators better assist the newly insured.

"We've done an enormous amount of public education around the Affordable Care Act," he said. "We had town meetings in 2010 and 2011 all across the state to educate people about what was actually in the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, we had trainer sessions across the state to train several hundred people in the details of the Affordable Care Act. Going into the enrollment last year, we had an enrollment summit in Flatwoods in may of 2013 that attracted 250 people. We went through the nuts and bolts of enrollment. There were holes in our knowledge because not everyone knew all the details."

To say that Bryant has been busy is an understatement. In addition to public education, part of his job includes fundraising, creating programs and running the day-to-day operations. In retirement, he's looking forward to gardening, hiking and traveling and hopes to leave the organization to someone younger "with more energy."

"In a couple of weeks I'll be 68. It does take an enormous amount of energy and effort to keep this organization up and running and keep up with the success we've had," he said. "To be honest I don't have that level of energy anymore. I'm getting old and slowing down. It's time for someone younger with more energy and enthusiasm."

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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State health care facilities to receive federal money http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140925/DM0104/140929468 DM0104 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140925/DM0104/140929468 Thu, 25 Sep 2014 20:39:40 -0400

Health care facilities across West Virginia are set to receive $5 million from the federal government.

The money, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration, will be used to continue operations and improve preventive care at 16 health centers across the state. Sens. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on Health Care, and Joe Manchin announced the grants Thursday.

"Community health centers across our state serve some of our most rural areas, making them a critical access point for care," Rockefeller said. "Federal funding supports these centers in their mission to keep West Virginians healthy. I'm so pleased to see several centers receive this funding for their preventive and primary health care services."

The competitive grant provides financial assistance to community health centers offering comprehensive primary and preventive health care services in underserved or rural areas.

"Improving the quality, affordability and accessibility of health care resources is critical for the people of West Virginia, especially our children, seniors, veterans and those living in our rural communities," Manchin said. "This funding will help facilities all across our great state provide the best possible preventive care, treatment and health services to residents."

The following health care centers will receive funding:

$208,052 - Belington Community Medical Services Association - Belington, W.Va.

$230,032 - Cabin Creek Health Center - Cabin Creek, W.Va.

$212,000 - CHANGE - Weirton, W.Va.

$254,970 - Community Care of West Virginia - Rock Cave, W.Va.

$219,202 - E.A. Hawse Health Center - Baker, W.Va.

$1,368,630 - Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center - Grantsville, W.Va.

$214,398 - Monongahela Valley Association of Health Centers - Fairmont, W.Va.

$202,406 - Pendleton Community Care - Franklin, W.Va.

$214,014 - Preston-Taylor Community Health Centers - Grafton, W.Va.

$212,482 - Ritchie County Primary Care Associates - Harrisville, W.Va.

$204,362 - Roane County Family Health Care - Spencer, W.Va.

$283,998 - Shenandoah Valley Medical Systems - Martinsburg, W.Va.

$198,026 - St. George Medical Clinic - St. George, W.Va.

$209,848 - Valley Health Care - Mill Creek, W.Va.

$550,205 - Wirt County Health Services Association - Elizabeth, W.Va.

$265,316 - Womencare - Scott Depot, W.Va.

n n n

Consumers in Wayne County will soon see extended water service.

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., announced Thursday the Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded $1.5 million to the Crum Public Service District to extend service to residents in the Lincoln Magisterial District. The grant completes funding for the Route 152 Phase II Water Extension Project, one of several projects recently constructed for development by the Crum PSD to provide water to all customers in Wayne County. Another $1.9 million in federal funding was previously announced for this project.

"Clean drinking water is absolutely essential to the health and well-being of our families and communities. These are exactly the kind of investments we should be making to attract new businesses and create jobs," said Rahall, top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The project will consist of 83,175 linear feet of waterline, two 35-gallon-per-minute pump stations and 28 fire hydrants and will provide water for 165 households, two businesses, a post office and the Dunlow Elementary School, which is the last public school in Wayne County to receive public water service. Water will be supplied from Mingo County Public Service District via a connection to an existing water main.

COMPILED BY WHITNEY BURDETTE

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Nurses stage Ebola "die-in" on Vegas Strip http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140924/DM01/140929603 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140924/DM01/140929603 Wed, 24 Sep 2014 17:33:24 -0400

KIMBERLY PIERCEALL

The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS - U.S. hospitals aren't ready for an Ebola outbreak, according to nurses who staged a "die-in" Wednesday outside a Las Vegas Strip resort where they are holding a union convention.

A union spokesman pointed to a recent case of a patient tested for Ebola at a northern California hospital and said nurses don't believe U.S. hospitals have the training, equipment and isolated areas where patients with the deadly virus could be quarantined.

"If there's disaster plans in hospitals, the people who are supposed to implement them aren't aware of them," said Charles Idelson, a spokesman for the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee.

Many protesters in the crowd of perhaps 1,000 wore bright red T-shirts, and several hundred wore suits resembling hazardous materials gear as they crossed Las Vegas Boulevard from the Planet Hollywood to Bellagio resorts.

A gong rang and dozens of protesters dropped to the sidewalk in front of the iconic Bellagio fountain, where others used chalk to outline their "dead" bodies in front of gawking tourists.

Union nurses at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center complained they were unaware last month that a patient was tested there for Ebola, Idelson said. Test results later ruled out the virus, officials said.

Hospital officials said at the time that they isolated the patient as well as trained staff and provided safety equipment to those involved.

The federal Centers for Disease Control announced Tuesday that the number of Ebola cases in Africa could grow from an estimated 21,000 now to 1.4 million in just two African countries by January. Four Americans have been or are being treated for Ebola in the U.S. after evacuation from Africa.

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Committee set to hold caregivers fair http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140923/DM01/140929690 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140923/DM01/140929690 Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:55:46 -0400 Temple Israel's Social Action Committee is spearheading a "Caregivers Care Fair," to be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 19 at Temple Israel, 2312 Kanawha Blvd. E.

Many residents of the Kanawha Valley are thrust into being a "caregiver," whether for a spouse, a parent, or a child. Often, it is difficult to find resources to help in the journey of medical, psychological, emotional, financial, and other demands. The Fair aims to aid in the process. It is free and open to the public.

Speakers for the event include

n Marsha Meeks, WV S.H.I.P. (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) Director, talking about Medicare counseling and enrollment, and sharing info about her office's programs, including health insurance products and in-home healthcare;

n Jennifer Taylor, Ombudsman Attorney at Legal Aid of West Virginia, tackling estate planning, medical and financial powers of attorney, and living wills; and

n Dr. Todd Goldberg, MD, gerontologist and Program Director for Geriatric Fellowship, WVU-Charleston, addressing issues of aging, including signs of the onset of dementia.

There are 20 - and counting - vendors who are participating in the Fair, including the Veteran's Administration, Right at Home, Senior Services, St. Francis Hospital, University of Charleston, Faith in Action of the Kanawha Valley, Relatives as Parents, and a host of others.

There will be a blood pressure screening and opportunities to speak to massage therapists, a nutritionist, a palliative care representative, and more.

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Court says Miss. can discipline W.Va. radiologist http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140923/ARTICLE/140929710 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140923/ARTICLE/140929710 Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:22:52 -0400

By JEFF AMY

The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. - Mississippi's Court of Appeals says the state Board of Medical Licensure can discipline a radiologist for making what a federal judge found to be thousands of "manufactured" lung disease diagnoses.

The Court of Appeals, ruling Tuesday, reversed a lower court verdict that the board had acted unfairly toward Dr. Ray Harron. The West Virginia physician's work for lawyers who filed thousands of cases seeking damage for silicosis was made an example of litigation gone awry by business and insurance lobbyists.

Harron worked for a Moss Point firm called Netherland & Mason that screened potential plaintiffs for claims that their lungs were damaged by exposure to asbestos or silica.

In a 2005 federal hearing in Corpus Christi, Texas, Harron testified that he allowed medically untrained employees to produce form letters of diagnoses and stamp his name on them. He admitted he never looked at the letters. In many cases, Harron diagnosed a person with both asbestosis and silicosis by reading the same X-ray. Defense experts in workplace respiratory diseases testified it was extremely rare for the same person to have both diseases, and Harron's reports would make it appear irreversible signs of damage had disappeared on a second reading.

Later in 2005, a Noxubee County judge dismissed more than 4,200 claims alleging exposure to silica had caused the lung ailment silicosis. As of 2004, about two-thirds of the nation's 30,000 silica claimants had filed their cases in Mississippi.

In 2007, Mississippi's licensure board ordered Harron to never renew his lapsed Mississippi medical license.

Harron didn't appeal that finding. But appealed when the licensure board reported his actions to a national data bank, saying his actions could have hurt patients.

Harron disagreed, saying he only acted as a legal witness and was not practicing medicine when he submitted the reports. He also refused to pay $5,000 in costs, and eventually appealed the case to Hinds County Chancery Court. A judge agreed and overturned the verdict. The licensure board renewed its order in 2012, this time ordering Harron to pay $10,000. He again appealed to Hinds County Chancery Court and won.

The appeals court, though, ruled for the licensure board, saying it was allowed to discipline the physician under a state law barring unprofessional conduct, deception and fraud.

"Dr. Harron was, in fact, providing medical services to 2,600 patients" Chief Judge Joseph L. Lee wrote for the court. "He was not simply testifying as an outside consultant with no connection to a patient, as when a doctor testifies as an expert on the standard of care. He was testifying as the diagnosing physician for thousands of patients."

"There can be no real dispute that misdiagnosing someone with having a deadly disease such as silicosis has the potential to harm that person," Lee wrote.

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CDC officials confirm 4 cases of enterovirus in W.Va. http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140922/DM01/140929831 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140922/DM01/140929831 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 16:19:32 -0400 By Samuel Speciale The enterovirus plaguing 22 states throughout the Midwest has entered West Virginia with four confirmed cases in Greenbrier, Wirt and Wood counties, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said Monday.

The virus, named Enterovirus EV-D68, is an uncommon strain of the common cold and causes respiratory inflammation, fever, runny nose, sneezing and coughing as well as muscle and body aches. It is especially severe for those with asthma or a history of wheezing. It mostly affects children under the age of 5, but older children and teenagers can catch it as well.

While enteroviruses are common, with 10 to 15 million infections occurring each year, this strain has hardly been seen until recently - there have been fewer than 100 reported cases in the past 50 years.

While the strain is rare, Dr. Letita Tierney, state health officer and commissioner for the Bureau of Public Health, said confirmation of its spread to West Virginia is not surprising.

Since mid-August, 160 people in 22 states have become ill. That number is increasing as the virus continues to spread across the country with purported cases reaching as far west as California and as far east as Massachusetts. West Virginia is the latest state to have confirmed cases.

In a press release, the bureau said specimens from 32 counties were tested by the CDC. Samples were taken from sick people in Calhoun, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mercer, Raleigh, Wirt and Wood counties, but a bureau representative said the virus is so far contained to Greenbrier, Wirt and Wood counties.

Earlier this month, Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said the virus had not crossed the Ohio-West Virginia border but did not rule out the possibility of it making its way here.

The virus, like the common cold, is spread person-to-person through airborne respiratory secretions or those on a contaminated surface. While usually not deadly, the spate of hospitalizations has health officials on alert.

Upon infection, Enterovirus EV-D68 acts much like a summer cold. In some cases, the illness does not escalate, but some people have had severe reactions leading to hospitalization and even trips to intensive care units.

Enterovirus peak season is generally from late summer to early fall, but health officials say EV-D68's quick spread has made it hard to predict how long it could last.

In the meantime, the state Bureau of Public Health advises all residents to pay close attention to their respiratory status because difficulty breathing and wheezing can be a symptom.

Tierney encourages those with asthma to be extra cautious by taking medicines to help maintain their illness. She also suggests getting a flu shot.

Infection can be avoided by following standard hygiene practices like washing hands with soap and water frequently and covering coughs and sneezes.

There is no vaccine or medication that specifically treats the illness, but mild symptoms can be remedied by over-the-counter medication. Those with severe symptoms may need to be hospitalized.

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

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Sierra Leone to shut down for 3 days due to Ebola http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140918/ARTICLE/140919233 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140918/ARTICLE/140919233 Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:18:33 -0400

By CLARENCE ROY-MACAULAY

THE Associated Press

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - Shoppers in Sierra Leone rushed to stock up on food Thursday ahead of a three-day nationwide shutdown, during which the country's 6 million people will be confined to their homes while volunteers search house-to-house for Ebola victims in hiding and hand out soap in a desperate bid to slow the accelerating outbreak.

The disease sweeping West Africa has also touched Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal and is believed to have sickened more than 5,300 people, the World Health Organization reported. In a sign the crisis is picking up steam, more than 700 of those cases were recorded in the last week for which data is available.

Ebola is estimated to have killed more than 2,600 people, with most of the deaths in Liberia. But WHO has said that the official toll is probably a gross underestimate and that most patients are at home, infecting others, when they should be in treatment centers.

The U.N. Security Council was scheduled to discuss the crisis later Thursday.

During the lockdown, which was set to begin at midnight Thursday and run through Sunday, volunteers will try to identify sick people reluctant or unable to seek treatment. They will also hand out 1.5 million bars of soap and deliver information on how to prevent Ebola.

More than six months into the world's largest Ebola outbreak, there are still affected areas without access to water or soap, WHO said.

Authorities have said they expect to discover hundreds of new cases during the shutdown. Many of those infected have not sought treatment out of fear that hospitals are merely places people go to die. Others have been turned away by centers overwhelmed with patients.

Sierra Leone's government said it has prepared screening and treatment centers to accept the expected influx of patients after the shutdown.

As shoppers rushed to buy last-minute items, some merchants worried about how they would feed their own families after losing three days' income. Much of Sierra Leone's population lives on $2 a day or less, and making ends meet is a day-to-day struggle.

"If we do not sell here we cannot eat," said Isatu Sesay, a vegetable seller in the capital. "We do not know how we will survive during the three-day shutdown."

Several countries have promised aid. France announced Thursday it will set up a military hospital in Guinea in the coming days, while Britain said it will provide 500 more badly needed beds in Sierra Leone. The U.S. plans to send 3,000 military personnel to the region and build more than a dozen treatment centers in Liberia. An American general has arrived in the Liberian capital of Monrovia to set up a command center.

Ebola, which is spread through bodily fluids, puts health workers at a particularly high risk. Nearly 320 have become infected, and about half have died. A French nurse for Doctors Without Borders who became infected in Liberia was being flown to Paris on Thursday.

With no proven treatment for Ebola, public health experts have kept the focus on isolating the sick, tracking down those they have come into contact with, and stopping the chain of transmission through travel restrictions, the cordoning off of entire communities and now Sierra Leone's lockdown.

Confusion and fear about the disease and anger over some of these measures have occasionally sparked unrest. In Guinea this week, a team that was doing disinfection and education on prevention methods was attacked by a group of young people and has been missing ever since.

Some patients have been given the blood of Ebola survivors in an experimental approach that some scientists think can help people fight off the virus.

British nurse William Pooley, who was infected while working in Sierra Leone and has since recovered, has flown to the U.S. to donate blood to an American patient, according to the Foreign Office. The American was not identified.

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Senate candidates focus on senior issues http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140917/DM0104/140919290 DM0104 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140917/DM0104/140919290 Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:51:14 -0400 By Whitney Burdette The two candidates running to represent West Virginia in the U.S. Senate agree seniors' benefits, including retirement, should be protected.

Democratic nominee Natalie Tennant, who currently serves as secretary of state, and Republican nominee Shelley Moore Capito, who is serving her seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives, don't differ much when it comes to their stances on issues facing seniors, including health care and protecting retiree benefits.

"It's important to focus on how we take care of our seniors and how we keep the promises we made when they were working," Tennant said. "Now that they've retired, we need to keep those promises."

Although many seniors depend on retirement and pensions to keep them going in their later years, many more are dependent on Social Security and Medicare - two programs at the forefront of partisan disagreements in Washington. In the past, Republicans generally have supported the idea of privatizing Social Security, though in recent years some have changed their positions. Privatization would allow workers to invest their Social Security earnings in the stock market and could lead to a bigger payout when the employee retires. But most Democrats seemingly don't like the idea, saying it's too risky.

The Tennant campaign has hit Capito hard on what it calls her support of privatization, saying privatization allows seniors to gamble on Wall Street, in turn benefiting big banks that have thrown their support behind Capito. However, in the early 2000s when she was first elected to the U.S. House, Capito told the Daily Mail she liked the idea of allowing younger workers to voluntarily invest their earnings, but didn't want to see an across-the-board mandate. In 2005, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer wrote to President George W. Bush, a supporter of privatization, citing Capito's and others' opposition to the idea.

Preserving the program in its current state is something Capito said should be a priority.

"What I think is incumbent upon us is to preserve the program for future generations," Capito said. "If we keep going at the rate we're going now they're going to bust the bank. We need some reforms in a bipartisan way to make sure we address for future generations a sensible amount of reform that will preserve this. Anything I talk about, I always say any present seniors and seniors turning 65 in the next 10 years have nothing to worry about."

Capito's support of the Ryan budget, which Tennant's camp claims will turn Medicare into a voucher program, also has drawn criticism. But Amy Graham, Capito's campaign spokeswoman, said Capito voted against versions of the Ryan budget, including in 2010, that would have made changes to Social Security for those under 55, and Capito is working to achieve a balance between an affordable Medicare program for current enrollees and preserving it for the future.

Although the campaigns have traded jabs on Social Security and Medicare, both candidates agree the Affordable Care Act, some provisions of which are aimed to help seniors, needs a second look.

"When I look at the Affordable Care Act, I look at it and know it wasn't done right and there are things that need to be fixed, things like competition," Tennant said. "Without competition, the cost is higher and West Virginia families are having to pay more."

Tennant and Capito both have repeatedly voiced support for other provisions of the law, including one that allows young Americans to stay on their parents' policies until age 26 and another barring insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. Both also applauded the closing of the prescription drug "donut hole," and Tennant noted 15,000 seniors have saved $12 million since that part of the plan was implemented. But Capito sees other things wrong with the law.

"The Affordable Care Act cut $700 billion out of Medicare," Capito said. "A lot of those cuts are causing West Virginia seniors to lose their Medicare Advantage plan. Those are plans seniors pick that they designated as fitting their needs and worked very well. Now they're not able to access those plans because of Obamacare. That to me is a negative. A $700 billion cut is negative. That cuts home health care. If we're going to rein in costs, it's definitely less expensive to help seniors in their homes with home health care than have them in the hospital."

Health care is just one of the services both candidates believe Congress needs to protect. Other retiree benefits are important, too, they say, and both said they will work to make sure retired workers have access to their benefits. In recent years, both Century Aluminum and Patriot Coal have found ways to end retiree benefits to former workers in West Virginia.

"It is our American way of life that we as American workers make a promise to a business or corporation that we're going to work and give you the best years of our lives," Tennant said. "Whether it's Century Aluminum retirees or coal miner retirees who have given their knees, their backs, their lungs, that when we make this promise for working for a lifetime to earn health care and pensions that it can't be taken away. It shouldn't be stolen from our seniors when they retire. I will work on legislation that doesn't leave our retirees on the losing end of bankruptcy court where their health care can be stolen and their pensions can be stolen."

Capito said it appears the situation with Patriot Coal has "alleviated a little bit," and she understands the difficult position those companies are in. But retirees are on the losing end.

"The worst part about this is these are hard-working folks who put in blood, sweat and tears for these companies and the companies get out from under the situations through legal maneuvering," she said. "I don't think that's right. We've tried to work with Century and Patriot to help with these situations, all members of the delegation. We're frustrated because sometimes we don't have the legal tools to make this work. These are issues in Congress and in the Senate I can be part of ensuring benefits that are promised will be there for you."

Tennant and Capito are vying for a seat in the Senate soon to be vacated by retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat. The general election is Nov. 4.

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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Subcommittee hears testimony on children's insurance program http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140917/DM0104/140919388 DM0104 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140917/DM0104/140919388 Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:01:00 -0400 By Whitney Burdette Experts told a Senate subcommittee Tuesday that Congress needs to act soon to reauthorize funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Money for the 17-year-old program is set to run out next fall. But four expert witnesses told the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on Health Care that states are starting to plan their 2016 budgets and need to know if they can rely on the program to continue.

"States cannot make adequate plans with the uncertainty of the future of CHIP," Cathy Caldwell, director of the Bureau of Children's Health Insurance with the Alabama Department of Public Health, told the committee. "Families are depending on you to make a decision soon."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is chairman of the subcommittee and was instrumental in helping create the program in 1997. Since the program's inception, the number of uninsured American children has been cut in half, from 14 percent to 7 percent. The program covers about 8 million children, including 22,000 in West Virginia.

In creating the program, Congress gave states flexibility in how to enact the program in ways that meet their populations' needs. States can implement the program one of three ways: through Medicaid expansion, through a separate state plan or a combination of the two. West Virginia is one of 15 states with its own plan. A variety of services are covered under West Virginia's CHIP plan, including doctor's visits, immunizations, tests and x-rays and dental and vision care.

Rockefeller pointed out the Affordable Care Act covers many of these services for children, but does not extend coverage for dental and vision care.

"The wonderful thing about CHIP, unlike the Affordable Care Act, it has both medical and dental covered," said Rockefeller, a vocal supporter of the president's health care reform law. "It's better than the Affordable Care Act, which I don't like to say but I have to in order to be honest."

That's just one reason Congress needs to act, Rockefeller said, to reauthorize funding for the program.

"We cannot afford to take this major step backwards and jeopardize future generations by letting CHIP expire," he said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also supports the program. James Perrin, president of the Academy, said not only are states dependent on the program, but so are pediatricians who practice knowing they have a reliable payer in the program.

"CHIP has developed into a critical program that finances health coverage for more than 8 million children across the country," he said.

The Academy developed several recommendations for Congress in regards to the program: to fully fund the program through 2019, to expand awareness of CHIP among eligible families, to facilitate enrollment in CHIP for eligible children, to maximize affordability, to enhance and continue the quality improvement funding in the CHIP act and to ensure adequate payment for physicians who care for CHIP patients.

Bruce Lesley, president of FirstFocus, a children's advocacy group, noted CHIP is popular among the American public, no matter the demographic, and is a "bipartisan success story."

"If this nation is to succeed in protecting children's health, there must be a commitment . . . to meet children's basic health needs and ensure children and pregnant women have access to health care," he said.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, 22,888 children are enrolled in CHIP as of August 2014, and 147,011 West Virginians are enrolled in Medicaid as of Sept. 15.

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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