www.charlestondailymail.com Health http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2015, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Cabell County to have state's 1st syringe exchange program http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150702/ARTICLE/150709824 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150702/ARTICLE/150709824 Thu, 2 Jul 2015 14:54:56 -0400 HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - Cabell County will be the site of West Virginia's first syringe exchange program, which officials say will help reduce infectious diseases within the county's population of intravenous drug-users.

"When the use of intravenous drugs increases, we also see increases in communicable diseases," Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer and commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health, said Thursday at a news conference held in Huntington to announce the program.

West Virginia's rate of hepatitis B cases is 10.6 per 100,000 people, compared to the national rate of 0.9 percent. The hepatitis C rate is 3.1 cases per 100,000 people, while the national rate is 0.6, Gupta said.

"These are lifelong diseases, very difficult to treat and very expensive to treat," he said.

Cabell County's rates of hepatitis B and hepatitis C are projected to be 12 times the national averages, said Dr. Michael Kilkenny, physician director for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.

"Make no mistake about it. We are in the midst of a serious health crisis in our community," Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said.

Williams said past policies no longer address present needs.

"This is moving forward in a businesslike manner so we can determine what works and what won't work and be able to constantly adjust accordingly," he said.

The state will provide $10,000 to the local health department to launch the program. Another $10,000 will be provided for technical support, said Karen L. Bowling, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources.

"This pilot program highlights the partnership of DHHR, the city of Huntington and the Cabell-Huntington Health Department coming together to not only acknowledge the seriousness of intravenous drug use, but to take action in helping to reduce the spread of infectious diseases in our communities caused by sharing needles," Bowling said.

Delegate Matthew Rohrbach said program organizers also want to help drug users get treatment and then get them back in the mainstream.

"When they see that someone cares about their health, they'll eventually realize that person also cares about them," said Rohrbach, R-Cabell.

The program is expected to be launched by late summer to early fall.

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Some state, local officials support needle exchange programs http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150630/DM02/150639932 DM02 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150630/DM02/150639932 Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:45:22 -0400 By Tyler Bell In yet another development in West Virginia's ongoing war against intravenous drug use, state and local officials are beginning to voice support for needle exchange programs.

Needle - or syringe - exchange programs let intravenous drug users exchange the dirty needles with which they've injected themselves for fresh syringes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended needle exchange programs to combat the spread of infectious disease to Congress since at least 1997, and numerous state and local agencies throughout the United States have implemented exchange programs to great effect.

"I know about (syringe exchange programs) in general terms," said Daniel Hall, R-Wyoming. "Generally speaking, I think it's probably a good idea to support a needle exchange program."

The programs aren't meant to condone drug use, but rather accept the fact that it happens and try to mitigate the epidemiological effects of widespread intravenous drug abuse. In West Virginia, the state that leads the nation in overdose deaths, state- or even county-wide exchange programs could end a serious outbreak before it begins.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus are the two most prevalent sicknesses spread by dirty needles, according to a 2005 report from the CDC detailing the risks of HIV and hepatitis C co-infection. Users infected with HIV have a roughly 80 percent chance of co-infection with hepatitis C, which can exacerbate the liver damage caused by the hepatitis C virus.

Unlike hepatitis A and B, hepatitis C has no antidote.

"We have an epidemic," Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said of the state's heroin abuse crisis. "We know that. There's no arguing."

Carper came out in support of a future syringe exchange program in Kanawha County on Metro News' Talkline program last week.

"You can try to arrest your way out of it," he said, but that alone isn't effective.

Carper praised the work of the Heroin Eradication Associated Taskforce, or HEAT, in providing a robust police presence against the heroin trade. He said that, while the police pressure is an incredible asset, by itself it isn't enough to put an end to the heroin crisis.

Another upside of syringe exchange programs is the increase in face-to-face contact between health care providers and users. It's not a guarantee somebody will seek treatment, but it drastically increases the odds.

"The people opposed to it are probably gonna say you're condoning drug use," Hall said.

Indiana lawmakers passed a measure in May allowing communities severely affected by HIV outbreaks to institute needle exchanges. The Indianapolis Star reported that Gov. Mike Pence, despite being vehemently opposed to needle exchange programs, declared a state of emergency in Scott County, Ind., after roughly 80 new HIV cases were reported in just weeks.

Permanent needle exchanges on either state- or county-wide levels won't happen overnight, but the state's Department of Health and Human Resources has announced a pilot syringe exchange program in Cabell County.

"The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is partnering with the City of Huntington and the Cabell-Huntington Health Department to announce the state's first-ever pilot Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) to assist with the reduction of illness/infection within the intravenous drug-use population in Cabell County," the department wrote in a press release.

"SEPs are considered part of a Harm Reduction Program to reduce the risk of spreading diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS."

The program will be announced during a joint press conference at 10 a.m. Thursday at Huntington City Hall.

Carper said a good deal of planning would precede launching such a program in Kanawha County. He added he's aware of the DHHR's Cabell County pilot program and would monitor it closely.

"The pill-mill epidemic did this and this caused by greedy pharmaceutical companies, greedy pharmacists and the occasional greedy doctor," he said.

The state and the county are still cleaning up the mess started by pill-mills more than a decade ago, and this is just another step authorities will have to take to finish the job, he said.

"It's just a question of whether public funds can be allocated and whether this is a good thing to do," Carper said. He said a county program would likely fall under the direction of HEAT.

The DHHR is reluctant to comment on the specifics - including costs - of the pilot program ahead of Thursday's official announcement.

Contact writer Tyler Bell at 304-348-4850 or tyler.bell@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/Tyler_Bell87.

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Health officials call for better communication about vaccines http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150617/DM01/150619335 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150617/DM01/150619335 Wed, 17 Jun 2015 20:12:20 -0400 By Samuel Speciale Better communicating vaccine safety and effectiveness is key to addressing the growing public concern over immunizing children, health officials said Wednesday during the closing session of the 2015 West Virginia Immunization Summit.

While West Virginia has the second highest immunization rate of school-aged children in the country - about 96 percent - parental hesitancy and sometimes outright refusal to vaccinate their children has public health officials on edge and looking for ways to combat what they call campaigns of misinformation.

"It's a consequence of success," said Kristen Feemster, a research director for the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She was the two-day summit's Wednesday keynote speaker.

"Many people haven't experienced diseases and don't understand their severity," she said.

Feemster, who also is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, went on to say that people who aren't worried their children will contract a disease take up other concerns like vaccine safety.

"It fills that void," she said.

While vaccines have all but eradicated diseases like diphtheria, polio and measles, Feemster said that blanket of security actually has helped create hesitancy, which in some pockets of the country has turned to religiously motivated anti-vaccination movements.

That void also can be filled with distrust in science, misinformation about vaccines, distortion of disease risk and a focus on naturalism, Feemster said.

Because of this, Feemster said health care providers are tasked with the difficult job of assuaging parents' concerns.

"They just want what's best for their children," she said.

That's why doctors need to address concerns and find common ground with parents, Feemster said.

"The majority of parents really do listen to their health care provider," Feemster said, citing medical studies that found parents are more likely to sign off on vaccinating their children if their doctor strongly recommends doing so.

Part of the process of selling a parent on vaccinating their child, Feemster said, is taking a presumptive approach where a doctor uses declarative statements in their recommendation instead of asking them to participate. She said parents are 17 times more likely to refuse a vaccination if they believe they have the option to do so.

All but two states - Mississippi and West Virginia - allow parents to opt their children out of mandatory vaccinations for anything other than a serious medical condition a doctor verifies. Religious conviction or philosophical belief is not a valid exemption in West Virginia.

Health officials cite West Virginia's ironclad vaccination laws as a reason for the state's high immunization rate of school-aged children. Younger children, however, have fallen behind.

Jeff Necuzzi, director of Immunization Services for the state Bureau for Public Health, said vaccination of school-aged children is steady but it is lacking in kids ages two years and younger.

While he said hesitancy is at play, there are other reasons parents are refusing or unable to vaccinate their children.

"I believe hesitancy is overstated in West Virginia," he said. "It's not the main cause of under-immunization."

Studies indicating that only about 2 percent of parents refuse to vaccinate their children seem to confirm Necuzzi's claim.

"It's part of it, but socioeconomic factors are the problem," he said.

Despite vaccines for children being an entitlement in West Virginia, much of the state remains medically under-served, something Necuzzi blames on economics and geography.

"Providers need to recognize we have a population that is less affluent and less educated," he said, adding that some doctors are not able to stock vaccines and must refer parents to another doctor. He went on to say parents in rural communities may not be able to take their children to another city, which drives lower vaccination rates.

"We're trying to fix that," Necuzzi said. "Providers need to disseminate information better so parents are aware of their children's immunization appointments. There needs to be extra effort in communicating."

Public health officials say a 90 percent immunization rate is critical to minimizing the potential for disease outbreaks.

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

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Report: West Virginia has highest drug overdose death rate http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150617/ARTICLE/150619390 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150617/ARTICLE/150619390 Wed, 17 Jun 2015 10:12:55 -0400

By JOHN RABY

and JONATHAN MATTISE

The ASSOCIATED PRESS

West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S., according to a report released Wednesday, further spotlighting Appalachia's festering drug abuse problem that is also fueling a rise in hepatitis C in one of the nation's poorest regions.

There were about 34 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 West Virginia residents from 2011-13, up dramatically from 22 deaths per 100,000 people in 2007-09, according to the report released Wednesday by the nonprofit groups Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

West Virginia's drug overdose death rate was more than double the national average, the report says. Citing statistics from the CDC, it found that West Virginia's rate far surpasses the second-highest state, New Mexico, which was at 28.2 deaths per 100,000. The national average was 13.4.

"It's more than disappointing. It's devastating," said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin in Charleston. "Can I say that I'm shocked? I'm not, because I know the depth of this problem."

The reasons why vary, but they are intertwined, said Dr. Rahul Gupta, West Virginia's state health officer.

He cited the impoverished region's history of poor education, along with the isolation of people and communities in its rugged mountainous terrain. There's a limited offering of substance abuse programs, though it's growing, but services may be far away and hard to reach.

Those factors similarly drive West Virginia toward the bottom of many other health and quality of life indicators, Gupta said.

"Whether it's drug use, whether it's mental health, it's physical health, a number of those things are going hand-in-hand," Gupta said.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that hepatitis C cases across four Appalachian states - Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia - more than tripled between 2006 and 2012. Kentucky now has the nation's highest rate of acute hepatitis C.

The recent outbreak of hepatitis C, which can be transmitted by injecting drugs or having unprotected sex, is centered in rural areas among young, white drug users.

Gupta said West Virginia has seen 3,000 drug overdose deaths in the last five years, or an average of 600 a year.

In Cabell County alone this year, there were at least 32 overdose deaths and 360 drug overdoses, including heroin and prescription drugs, said Jim Johnson, the city of Huntington's director of drug control policy.

While police have tried to cut down on the supply side of illegal drugs with at least 406 drug-related arrests in Huntington this year, leaders in the Ohio River county of 97,000 residents have also have turned to addiction treatment programs.

"The drug problem is our No. 1 problem," Johnson said. "We're a community that's hitting it head on. We're not trying to sweep it under the table. We're trying to be aggressive.

West Virginia's drug woes reflect a national trend.

The report said drug overdose deaths have more than doubled in the past 14 years nationally and have resulted in 44,000 deaths per year, half of which are prescription-drug related. Drug overdoses have become the leading cause of injury in 36 states, including West Virginia, surpassing motor vehicle-related deaths.

In West Virginia, two state agencies have an ongoing lawsuit seeking to unseal court records about drug shipments from 11 pharmaceutical distributors. The suit alleges the companies have helped fuel the state's pain pill epidemic by shipping excessive amounts of prescription painkillers to southern West Virginia pharmacies.

Authorities also have cracked down on doctors who run pill mills. A Clarksburg pain doctor was sentenced last month to five years in prison. A 2010 FBI raid shut down a Williamson clinic and resulted in six month prison sentences for two physicians and an office manager for misusing Drug Enforcement Administration registration numbers.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and other senators have asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to reinstate a national program where people can turn in expired and unwanted prescription pills to police agencies on designated days. Manchin also wants to reclassify certain prescription drugs to limit the amount and frequency that can be dispensed without a person being rechecked by a physician.

"It's a whole gamut of things that we have to start," Manchin said. "But if we don't start, and we don't have a systematic way of approaching it, this is going to continue to consume our nation at a price we can't afford to pay."

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Food pantries encourage donations straight from your garden http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150615/DM06/150619547 DM06 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150615/DM06/150619547 Mon, 15 Jun 2015 18:03:47 -0400 By Charlotte Ferrell Smith If a garden produces more vegetables than your family can eat, consider sharing the bounty with the less fortunate.

Summer can be lean regarding donations to local food pantries.

Jean Simpson, executive director for Manna Meal, is encouraging anyone with a garden to donate extra produce to any local food pantry. Donations are lean this time of year and fresh vegetables would be welcome.

"We are all struggling," she said. "If you grow a garden and have an abundance, bring it to a local food pantry, any food pantry."

While many pantries do not have refrigerators, she suggests calling ahead and delivering fresh vegetables on the days they are open so those who visit them may have the benefit of nutritious food.

She notes that November and December are busy with many donating food during the holidays. But donations then tend to decline.

Also, donated items throughout the year are generally processed and packaged,

"Nobody gets fresh vegetables," she said. "Another thing pantries don't get is eggs."

Manna Meal, housed at St. John's Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, serves two meals a day, seven days a week to anyone, with no questions asked.

Manna Meal is in the process of moving its garden from private space on Rutledge Road in Charleston to a new site at Rock Lake Community Center owned by Rock Lake Presbyterian in the Spring Hill section of South Charleston. Email jsmannameal@wirefire.com or call 304-345-7121 for more information or to volunteer to help with the garden.

Meanwhile, John Roberts, executive director of Mountain Mission on Charleston's West Side, said a gentleman started a small raised bed garden in an effort to help the food pantry but it has not been too successful so far. Additional space is available for those who would like to plant fresh vegetables to help stock the pantry.

Those with extra produce in their home gardens are also asked to contribute any extra vegetables.

"It would help tremendously if we had vegetables for our clients in need," Roberts said. "We are in dire need."

While people tend to donate food during the holidays, they get busy with family activities during the summer and tend to forget, he said.

"It isn't that they don't care," he said. "Their minds are busy with other things."

In addition to fresh produce, a food drive by any church or organization would be appreciated for stocking the shelves, he said.

"The demand for food is pressing every day," he said.

Families are given boxes of food with staples and are then permitted to choose some items. Dairy and meat products are limited and given to those with the greatest needs. A volunteer has been putting together recipe ideas to help clients stretch the contents of a food box into as many meals as possible.

Contact Mountain Mission at 304-344-3407 or info@mountainmission.com for more information about donating food or helping with a garden. The address is 1620 Seventh Ave., Charleston.

Pocatalico/Sissonville Community Food Pantry, housed at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, could use "anything from the garden," said Judy Stanley, a longtime volunteer.

She said an elderly gentleman who is a client of the pantry has previously brought his extra produce to share with others in need. "Anything anyone has from the garden would be wonderful," she said. "We need meats and vegetables. A lady who used to bring us eggs has started bringing eggs again."

Nonperishable foods may be dropped off any time and placed in barrels located outside the church, 6823 Sissonville Dr. To make arrangements for dropping off garden vegetables or other perishable items, call the church office at 304-984-1164.

Major Darrell Kingsbury, area commander for the Salvation Army, said garden produce is a welcome addition to the food pantry and also helpful for feeding lunch to children participating in the Boys and Girls Club.

In some instances, groups of neighbors have joined forces to tend a community garden and donate the bounty, he said.

Donations may be dropped off at 301 Tennessee Ave. in Charleston as well as the thrift store on Wyoming Street. Those who would like to donate food and wish to have it picked up may contact the Salvation Army 304-343-4548.

He said many people are struggling economically and the need for donations is great at food pantries.

Contact a local food pantry for information regarding donations of nonperishables as well as the best time to drop off any extra garden vegetables this growing season.

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

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Area pharmacies refuse to fill embattled neurologist's prescriptions http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150614/DM01/150619617 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150614/DM01/150619617 Sun, 14 Jun 2015 21:20:04 -0400 By Joel Ebert A local pharmacy chain has decided to stop filling prescriptions written by Dr. Iraj Derakhshan after it was revealed the neurologist is facing a disciplinary hearing before the West Virginia Board of Medicine that could result in a license revocation.

Jerry Leonard, vice president of pharmacy services for Drug Emporium, said his company, which has two locations in Charleston, changed its policy after the Daily Mail's examination of Derakhshan's history of writing opioid-based pain killer prescriptions by the thousands.

The Daily Mail reported Derakhshan was one of the top prescribers of hydrocodone-acetaminophen in West Virginia in 2013, according to Medicaid Part D data. That year, he wrote 3,462 hydrocodone prescriptions for 437 beneficiaries, totaling 103,265 days supply, far outnumbering any other drugs he prescribed. Derakhshan also wrote 1,540 oxycodone prescriptions for Medicaid Part D patients in 2013.

"We're willing to fill a month's worth of (Dr. Derakhshan's) patient's prescriptions one more time, if the pharmacist on duty feels it's medically appropriate, for select patients who are already established with Drug Emporium," he said. "But if they haven't filled a prescription regularly over the last 6 months, we will refuse them."

Leonard said the decision to stop filling Derakhshan's opioid prescriptions was also based on the preponderance of evidence outlined in the West Virginia Board of Medicine's complaint that confirmed suspicions the company already had about the doctor's practices.

"Our upper level management reviewed prescription activity from reports out of our own prescription processing system for hydrocodone and oxycodone. We found that Dr. Derakhshan wrote many times more prescriptions for those two products than any other prescriber in our database, and more importantly, not much of anything else," Leonard explained.

Drug Emporium's policy change was necessary in order to accommodate patients who regularly fill their prescriptions with the company and not simply cut them completely off, according to Leonard.

The decision was made "to protect our pharmacists and our pharmacies however that had to be handled on a case by case basis," Leonard said, noting that the company has not been able to give proper notice to all its patients.

"I didn't have a real good feeling about cutting people off cold turkey, but in some cases it was warranted," he said.

The local neurologist's patients, Leonard said, have the choice of either staying with him or going to another practitioner.

He said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has put the onus on pharmacists for identifying whether a patient is in legitimate need of opioids rather than putting that burden entirely on the prescriber.

"The pharmacist is always on the back end of the spectrum," said Leonard.

According to the DEA's pharmacist manual, "a pharmacist also needs to know there is a corresponding responsibility of the pharmacist who fills the prescription.

"A pharmacist is required to exercise sound professional judgment when making a determination about the legitimacy of a controlled substance prescription," the manual says, noting that both the pharmacist and the issuing practitioner can be prosecuted for knowingly and intentionally distributing controlled substances.

A lack of complete clarity from the DEA has put pharmacies in a position where they can be held responsible if something happens to a patient, Leonard says.

For that reason, many large companies, such as Wal-Mart, are unwilling to fill many opioid prescriptions.

"Pharmacies need to be given better direction from the DEA," he said.

Leonard said although Drug Emporium pharmacists will look at each Derakhshan prescription on a case-by-case basis, the company would maintain the current policy until the doctor appears in front of the Board of Medicine in late July.

But Drug Emporium is not the only local pharmacy frequently refusing to fill prescriptions written by Derakhshan.

Several of the doctor's current patients contacted the Daily Mail to say they have been unsuccessful in filling his prescriptions for opioid-based pain medication.

Bernerd Slater, a West Side resident and a patient of Derakhshan's, said he has tried going to every pharmacy in the Kanawha Valley region to get his prescriptions for oxycodone, Xanax and Topamax.

"Everywhere that I tried to get them filled said he was locked out when they looked on the system," he said.

The system, Slater believes, is the controlled substance monitoring database, which provides pharmacists an overview of how frequently a patient is filling their prescriptions and whether or not they are doctor shopping - a practice where one patient visits several doctors to get pain medication.

Slater, who says he suffers from numerous maladies including migraines, said, "I'm one of them that needs pain medication that can't get it."

He credits Derakhshan for helping him get to a point where he can function normally.

In light of the difficulty he's faced with obtaining his pain medication, Slater said he's planning to meet with his family doctor later this month in hopes of having her refer him to a new doctor.

In the meantime, Slater says he's suffering.

"I'm in constant pain," Slater said. "Now I'm back to laying in bed."

In addition to Slater, several other patients said they've tried to fill Derakhshan's prescriptions anywhere they could - Wal-Mart, Rite Aid and Kroger, to name just a few - but they have been denied at each location.

The Daily Mail attempted to speak with numerous pharmacies but only three - Rite Aid, CVS and Trivillian's Pharmacy, in addition to Drug Emporium - responded to requests for comment for this story.

"Pharmacists have a legal obligation under state and federal law to determine whether a controlled substance was issued for a legitimate purpose and they consider a variety of factors when exercising their professional judgment as to whether or not to fill a controlled substance prescription," said Mike DeAngelis, public relations director for CVS.

"We do not comment on individual prescribers, however as part of CVS Health's efforts to combat prescription drug abuse, we are committed to identifying physicians who exhibit extreme patterns of prescribing high risk drugs such as pain medications, and in some cases we will not fill controlled substance prescriptions they write," he said.

Rite Aid confirmed that they no longer fill prescriptions written by Derakhshan.

"In March of 2014, Rite Aid made the decision to no longer dispense prescriptions for controlled substances for this provider," said Ashley Flower, a company spokesperson.

Stephanie Saunders, a pharmacist at Trivillian's Pharmacy in Kanawha City, said the company's three locations have decided to deny some of Derakhshan's patients.

"We are no longer taking patients of Dr. Derakhshan's seeking narcotic prescriptions," she said, while noting that the doctor's patients would still be able get prescriptions for non-narcotic medications filled.

Saunders recently became a co-owner of Trivillian's. Last September the Kanawha City location was raided by federal authorities and the company's former owner, Paula Butterfield, subsequently pleaded guilty to charges related to healthcare fraud.

"There is some sort of conspiracy not to fill his (Derakhshan) prescriptions," said Clendenin resident Mack Walker, another one of the doctor's patients.

Walker said if it weren't for a pharmacist he has known for over 35 years, he would not be able to get his painkillers.

"Pain medication is the only hope that I have," he said. "I've had a headache day and night nonstop for 40 months."

Walker admitted some people misuse opioids, adding a negative light to medication he says helps him and many others get through the day. As a result of the widespread abuse, people who legitimately need prescription painkillers are left suffering, Walker said.

Derakhshan is currently facing 15 charges outlined in a 40-page complaint filed by the state medical board. The complaint includes details of an investigation that found that the doctor wrote more than 14,000 original and/or refill prescriptions for controlled substances from July 1, 2013, to Feb. 12, 2014.

Investigators examined the records of 10 of Derakhshan's patients and found the doctor had significantly escalated each patient's dosage over time.

Several of Derakhshan's former patients have called his actions into question but the doctor has denied any wrongdoing and is confident he will be vindicated when he appears before the state Board of Medicine's hearing examiners on July 28 and 29.

The board will not comment on the case until the doctor's case has been adjudicated and his fate has been decided.

Contact writer Joel Ebert at 304-348-4843 or joel.ebert@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on twitter.com/joelebert29.

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Times changing for baby changing tables http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150610/DM01/150609196 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150610/DM01/150609196 Wed, 10 Jun 2015 00:01:00 -0400 By Andrea Lannom By Marcus Constantino Marcus Constantino It's inevitable. Any parent who is out with a baby will eventually have to find a place to change a diaper.

For women, it can be as simple as visiting the nearest restroom.

For men, options might not be as reliable.

We decided to see what changing options are available in a pinch for Kanawha Valley dads. The results were spotty.

Most businesses visited in Charleston and surrounding towns offered either changing tables in both restrooms or had family or unisex restrooms. However, most of the restaurants we visited did not.

See also: Some states consider changing tables laws

Out of 21 places we visited in town and the surrounding area - which included a mix of government buildings, activity centers, public buildings, retail stores, grocery stores and restaurants - 13 had them in both and seven had changing stations only in the women's restroom. Only one place didn't have changing tables in either restroom.

All but one chain retail store visited offered changing stations in both restrooms. With restaurants, four out of the five visited, including chains and locally-owned places, only had them in the women's restroom.

Some fathers still said they have trouble finding a place to change their children's diapers.

"My experience in public restrooms, the vast majority don't have changing tables in restrooms," said Mark Brown, a Charleston father of 1-year-old twins. "If I'm somewhere out with the kids, if I have to change them, I kind of think of it as I need a flat surface. I mostly change the kids in the car."

Other fathers recounted similar stories and even some mothers talked about how difficult it was for their spouses to find a changing table. Frank Constantino, a Beckley father, said he had a similar experience.

"I would say that most men's restrooms don't have changing tables," Constantino said. "That does pose a problem when taking our son out. Megan (Constantino's wife) almost always has to be the one to make the diaper change. I don't worry about taking him out, but if I were out with him alone I would have to take him back to the car to change his diaper. It's possible that the lack of changing tables in men's restrooms stems from views of the past that women primarily raised a child. While those views have greatly changed, restrooms haven't."

Some of the businesses that offered either changing tables or family restrooms include Yeager Airport, Kanawha County Circuit Court, the Kanawha County Courthouse, the Kanawha County Public Library, the Culture Center, the Civic Center, the South Charleston Memorial Ice Arena and Charleston Town Center.

Amy Shuler Goodwin, commissioner with the West Virginia Division of Tourism, confirmed all eight welcome centers have changing tables in both restrooms.

Terri McDougal, head of children's services at the library, said there have been changing tables in both restrooms on the children's floor for about 10 years.

"When we didn't have baby changing stations, it was a challenge for parents with babies and infants," she said. "I can remember some changed their children on the couches in the play area. They would spread out pads but yes, that was something we really felt we needed to address with our patrons."

Ray Burke, board member of the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, a trade association representing food service and travel industries, said whether a man will find a changing table in restaurants depends on a few factors such as the size of the restroom and how new the building is. He said he has seen changing tables in the men's restrooms in restaurants but noted he hasn't seen very many in gas stations.

"Basically, in a lot of restaurants, you're adding them but again, it depends on the size of the restaurants. You see them more in bigger dining rooms than you do in carry-out places."

"As you see restaurants that are newer, they have them in both the men's and women's restrooms. I've seen that more. In the past, you didn't see a lot of them," he said.

Burke said about 15 years ago, he stayed at home with the baby and said at that time, it was "unheard of."

"The man would have to change the baby in the car," he said. "It is nice that times have changed."

"We will work to add them in where we can," he later added.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department had changing tables and a child's toilet in the women's restroom but did not have either in the men's restroom. After asked why the health department didn't have them, spokesman John Law said the department intends to install them.

"We are going to install baby changing stations in our men's room," he said. "No one had ever pointed out the need before, but they should be in both of them. They will be there as soon as we can get them."

The state Capitol Complex also had tables in the women's restroom but not in the men's.

Diane Holley-Brown, communications director with the Department of Administration, said there are no baby changing tables in the men's restrooms in buildings at the Capitol Complex but there are some in the women's restrooms. She said there are no plans to add these stations right now, but officials are "always evaluating potential changes to various aspects related to our buildings."

"As to why these amenities are not found in the men's restrooms on the state Capitol Complex, most of these restrooms are in buildings that were constructed decades ago (1930s to 1950s) and most likely the specifications did not include having these features," she wrote.

She did say changing tables are included in specifications for both men's and women's bathrooms in new state office buildings under construction in Fairmont and Clarksburg.

"We plan to make every attempt to include these amenities in all new construction projects," she wrote.

Some businesses have gone the way of using family restrooms, which are not only targeted for parents but also for people who may need to assist another adult in using the restroom.

Lisa McCracken, spokeswoman with Charleston Town Center, explained the mall's family room was part of a recent renovation. The family restroom has two private rooms and a lounge. She said ideally, mall managers would like to have a second one in the mall and it's something officials are looking at down the road.

"It was one of the most requested amenities we received in the last six to seven years," she said. "More people requested a family restroom. ... We all had that experience where you either have an aging parent or a small child or grandchild and need access to a family restroom. For dads with little girls or moms with little boys, it takes that worry out of going to the restroom with one or the other with going with a different sex."

Caryn Gresham, spokeswoman for the Culture Center, said there are changing stations in the men's restroom and there are two family bathrooms. She said the first family restrooms were installed in the 1990s.

Although she said she wasn't there when they were installed, she said the reason officials decided to go with family restrooms is all the events hosted at the center. She said the changing table in the men's bathroom was installed in 2009.

"I wasn't there at the time but I guess it was because at the time, we recognized it's a good practice," she said. "We bring people here of all ages - from 2 months to 102. We recognize, as a public facility, we want to be as service-oriented as possible."

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New guidelines to expand nutrition program's reach in W.Va. http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150608/ARTICLE/150609331 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150608/ARTICLE/150609331 Mon, 8 Jun 2015 12:47:01 -0400

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - State officials say new federal guidelines will allow more West Virginians to enroll in a nutrition program.

The Department of Health and Human Resources' Office of Nutrition Services says an additional 7,500 West Virginians could be eligible for benefits from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

The office said Monday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new income eligibility guidelines could allow a family of four earning $44,863 to qualify for benefits.

The program provides food, nutrition and breastfeeding education, and access to maternal, prenatal and pediatric health care services. It currently serves nearly 43,000 West Virginia residents.

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Elementary school teachers pedal bicycles to class http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150604/ARTICLE/150609639 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150604/ARTICLE/150609639 Thu, 4 Jun 2015 10:25:17 -0400 WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) - Three Woodsdale Elementary School teachers have started a ritual of riding their bicycles to and from the school each day.

The Intelligencer reports Susan Brossman, Stacy Greer and Becket Ihlenfeld meet up with school buses carrying their students during their rides.

The three teachers all live in Wheeling and estimate their ride to be about three miles each way. The teachers started riding their bicycles in May during National Bike Month, established by the League of American Bicyclists.

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Hepatitis C grips Appalachia http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150604/ARTICLE/150609643 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150604/ARTICLE/150609643 Thu, 4 Jun 2015 10:18:01 -0400

By CLAIRE GALOFARO

the Associated Press

HAZARD, Ky. — Patton Couch shook his head and clenched his teeth, recounting the night four years ago when he plucked a dirty needle from a pile at a flophouse and jabbed it into his scarred arm.

He knew the odds; most of the addicts in the room probably had hepatitis C.

“All I cared about was how soon and how fast I could get it in,” he says. “I hated myself, it was misery. But when you’re in the grips of it, the only way I thought I could escape it was one more time.”

Couch, 25 years old and one month sober, is one of thousands of young Appalachian drug users recently diagnosed with hepatitis C. Yet public health officials warn that it could get much worse.

Two-hundred miles north, Scott County, Ind., is grappling with one of the worst American HIV outbreaks among injection drug users in decades. Kentucky, with the nation’s highest rate of acute hepatitis C, might be just a few dirty needles away from a similar catastrophe.

“One person could be Typhoid Mary of HIV,” said Dr. Jennifer Havens, an epidemiologist at the University of Kentucky’s Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, who has studied Perry County drug users for years as the hepatitis rate spiraled through small-town drug circles there. An explosion of hepatitis C, transmitted through injection drug use and unprotected sex, can foreshadow a wave of HIV cases.

In a study last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that hepatitis C cases across four Appalachian states — Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia — more than tripled between 2006 and 2012. Kentucky leads the nation in the rate of acute hepatitis C, with 4.1 cases for every 100,000 residents, more than six times the national average, according to the CDC.

Havens has tracked 503 drug users since 2008. Now 70 percent of them have hepatitis C.

“There’s a sense of inevitability about it. Some say, ‘I’m surprised it took me this long,”’ she said, astonished by the indifference to a disease that destroys the liver, often leading to cancer or cirrhosis, and is the leading cause of liver transplants.

With the threat bearing down on Appalachia, local governments are scrambling to figure out how to stop it, whether through needle exchange programs, drug treatment or jail.

Hepatitis C once was an urban problem that mostly afflicted minorities, said Dr. John Ward, director of the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis. The recent outbreak is centered in rural areas among young, white drug users.

Scott County, Ind., is in many ways the Midwestern equivalent of rural Appalachia: A quarter of the people live in poverty, treatment options are limited and both have long been seized by an epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

In Scott County, 160 people have tested positive for HIV in five months. Compare that to New York City, with more than eight million people, where just 49 drug users tested positive in 2013, said Greg Millett, director of public policy for the Foundation for AIDS Research.

“This is a canary in the coal mine for other places with high rates of hepatitis C.”

Kentucky in March became the first of the four Appalachian states battered by the hepatitis outbreak to pass a law allowing local health departments to create needle exchange programs. Dr. Stephanie Mayfield Gibson, commissioner of the state’s Department of Public Health, said her office recently distributed guidelines for counties to implement the programs.

But the counties must decide whether and how to set up a needle exchange.

The state’s biggest cities, Louisville and Lexington, plan to launch programs this summer. However, Van Ingram, executive director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, said few rural communities have expressed interest. Some may wait and let the urban centers work out the details first.

To many experts, the benefits are beyond debate.

“We have to change the way we think, we have to open our minds and think of other options and, yes, that includes needle exchanges,” said Sue Yates, who oversees drug court programs in 20 counties that try to divert addicts away from jails and into treatment. “It’s better than doing nothing, which is what we’re doing now.”

But Karen Cooper, director of the Kentucky River District Health Department, which serves a cluster of seven small counties in southeastern Kentucky, said that in smaller communities, fear of being exposed as a drug user may keep users away from a needle exchange.

Some object to the programs on moral grounds, claiming they facilitate drug use rather than prevent it.

“A needle exchange program is like giving a gun to someone suicidal,” said Ben Barlow, a recovering addict in Clay County who is also positive for hepatitis C.

Needles now are bought and sold on the street for about $5 each.

Tammy Brooks always had clean ones.

She was a nurse practitioner with a prescription for injection vitamin supplements to treat anemia when she dislocated two disks and her doctor prescribed OxyContin to ease the pain. Two months later, she was shooting it into her veins. Before the addiction took hold, she wouldn’t let her daughter watch R-rated movies. A few months in, the girl watched her mom shoot up.

“You’re not even human,” she says. “All your head is saying is to use, use, use.”

So she began to barter needles to pay for her habit. She used them once or twice then sold them on the street, about 30 each week. She watched the scourge of hepatitis erupt around her and believes easy access to clean syringes saved her from the disease.

Now, 20 months sober, she advocates for needle exchange programs in Appalachia.

“If you knew your child was going to get in the neighbor’s pool, wouldn’t you want them to know how to swim? You wouldn’t just say ‘don’t get in the pool.’ Cause you know they will anyway.”

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Local neurologist refutes accusations http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150603/DM01/150609665 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150603/DM01/150609665 Wed, 3 Jun 2015 20:45:48 -0400 By Joel Ebert A Charleston neurologist is set to appear in less than eight weeks before the state Board of Medicine to refute charges, which if he's found guilty could result in the revocation of his medical license.

Dr. Iraj Derakhshan plans to vigorously defend himself before the board but he is also speaking out now, saying he is being persecuted and prosecuted unjustly.

The local doctor said the allegations outlined in the 40-page 15-count complaint filed by the state Board of Medicine are nothing new.

It is a rehash of issues he has had to face over the years with the Board of Medicine, he told the Daily Mail last week during an hour-long interview at his office.

"Apparently this board has a very limited and short history in terms of memory," he said.

Derakhshan said the current complaint is similar to a case that appeared in front of the board a decade ago.

According to the 2005 consent order, two complaints were submitted to the board alleging that Derakhshan advised two patients to take an unnamed medication in an improper manner.

The complaint was resolved after an investigation. Derakhshan agreed to complete a course in controlled substance management and record keeping. The doctor also agreed to stop advising patients to cut time-released medications in half with a pill cutter and he agreed not to see more than 25 patients in a 24-hour period. But that was 10 years ago.

The current complaint in front of the board stems from an investigation into his actions in connection with 10 different patients.

All of the patients were initially prescribed a low dosage of prescription painkillers by Derakhshan. But the dosage was increased over time. In some cases Derakhshan recommended patients take as much as 240 milligrams of oxycodone a day.

The complaint also accuses Derakhshan of failing to keep adequate records for those 10 patients - an accusation he adamantly refutes.

"I am the only physician that records the interview (with patients)," he said, pointing to a handheld recording device, which Derakhshan said allows him to have an almost entirely electronic record keeping system. "I keep the best medical records."

Despite the number of accusations and gravity of the charges in the current case, Derakhshan is confident he will retain his license and be vindicated when he goes before the board in July.

"Every single one of these - we have had a similar example over the past 15 years that have resolved in my favor," he said.

Despite concerns that Derakhshan is one of the top prescribers of opioids such as hydrocodone-acetaminophen in the state, he said there is a simple reason.

"All that means is that I am the highest person that they refer patient to me in a state that is so subject to coal mine accidents," he said, noting that the vast majority of his 19,439 active patients suffer from mining-related injuries.

"A large population in this state have either terrible migraines that are not responsive to anything other than daily scheduled opioid treatment for intractable headache," he said, noting that, aside from the miners, a significant number of his patients suffer from chronic pain such as carpal tunnel syndrome or migraines.

Discussing carpal tunnel syndrome, Derakhshan said that neither surgery nor therapy were optimal solutions to the problem. He said surgery is not a very good option because it doesn't necessarily mean there will be improvement after a procedure. He also called therapy not a very practical solution.

"Many of them I write a wrist brace for but what they need is the pain medicine to allow them to sleep," he said.

Derakhshan said there's a simple reason hydrocodone has been the most prescribed drug in West Virginia - in 2013, state doctors wrote 426,423 prescriptions for the opioid for Medicaid Part D patients.

"Pain is the most common symptom that takes a patient to a doctor. So naturally pain medication should be the most commonly written medication by a doctor," he said. "But today's doctors are so scared that they do not do what they are supposed to do - namely relieve the pain. And they send their patients to me."

The doctor said the charges against him are just the latest example of how he is viewed as "a pariah."

Beyond the latest complaint, the Daily Mail has found that since 2003 Derakhshan has been named as a defendant in two wrongful death lawsuits in Kanawha County, according to court records.

When asked whether he has been sued, Derakhshan said, "I don't want to talk about those right now. This is not very productive."

But he was willing to talk about his criticism of federal and state authorities.

Derakhshan says doctors are afraid of writing prescription painkillers because they fear being targeted by law enforcement agencies like the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"They run the show behind the scene," Derakhshan said. "They are the ones who go to the pharmacy and say if you dispense too much of this medicine we are going to put your name in the newspaper."

Citing several recent newspaper stories written about DEA agents who hired prostitutes in Columbia, Derakhshan questioned the credibility of the entire agency. He pointed to another story about DEA agents testifying before the state legislature in Utah and warning lawmakers of the dangers of marijuana-eating rabbits.

"They have lost their legitimacy," he said.

The DEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Calling himself an "academic neurologist," Derakhshan presented the Daily Mail with several academic papers that defend the use of prescribing opioids for headaches.

"Opioid and opium product are the safest medication around in terms of body," said Derakhshan. "This is a natural substance. It has been with us for thousands of years."

Former Democratic Party chairman and U.S. Congressional candidate Nick Casey of the law firm Lewis, Glasser, Casey and Rollins will represent Derakhshan before the board, said there are divergent views on opioids among academics. "You'll find there are competent physicians from real places who talk about that for different conditions a regular regime of opioids has got results," he said. "If you take it out of the realm of the anecdotal and put it in the world of statistical, that's where you find these competent research positions."

Casey said Derakhshan's upcoming hearing with the board of medicine will essentially come down to the difference of opinion on opioids.

"That's the thing that the board is dealing with," he said.

While elected officials and government agencies remain concerned about the toll prescription drug abuse has on society - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called it an epidemic, noting that 16,000 people died in the United States in 2012 from overdoses involving opioid painkillers - Derakhshan said he is not concerned about patients becoming addicted.

"Addiction is a very nebulous subject," Derakhshan said, noting that people can be addicted to everything from the Internet to pornography. "You get addicted to anything you do more than what you should. This is a behavioral issue. I believe, and I'm among those neurologists that say, addiction is more about the person than about the substance."

Derakhshan provided the Daily Mail with a 2008 paper published in Pain Medicine, an academic journal. In the article, David Fishbain, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami Health System, concludes that doctor-induced addiction to opioids is extremely rare.

When asked whether an increase in dosage of opioids could increase the likelihood of a person getting addicted, Derakhshan said, "That's garbage. The whole dependency is garbage."

The doctor estimated that 40 to 50 percent of people taking opioids over a long period of time abandon the drug when they no longer need it or they find it ineffective.

According to Derakhshan, the vilification of opioids by the media and law enforcement has led to the suffering of many patients who are suffering from legitimate pain.

Derakhshan believes he became persona non grata after some local pharmacies, such as Rite Aid, recently began refusing to fill prescriptions for his patients.

"This smells of some kind of conspiracy to get rid of me because I write pain medicine," he said.

The Daily Mail was unable to confirm with Rite Aid whether the company has refused to fill prescriptions written by Derakhshan.

The doctor encouraged several of his current patients to contact the Daily Mail for this story. He said his intention was to prove his point that many people are suffering as a result of the decision by local pharmacies to stop filling prescriptions written by him.

Only one of the doctor's patients who contacted the Daily Mail was willing to go on the record and be quoted for this story.

That patient, Kassie Wells, said without Dr. Derakhshan she would not be the same.

Wells, a former nurse who is currently a pastor, said she has suffered from chronic headaches for years.

The pain in Wells' head was so bad that she kept a garbage can next to her bed, in case she got sick, she said.

But she says that thanks to Derakhshan she is finally able to function.

She told the Daily Mail that the doctor wrote a prescription for her to take 120 milligrams of a day.

Plus she wears a 50 microgram Fentanyl patch, which she changes every three days.

More than 5 years after her initial appointment with Derakhshan, Wells says she has been able to move that trash can from her bedroom to her bathroom, and she calls it no small feat.

"I feel great," Wells said.

"It is a life-changing event for them," said Derakhshan.

Wells says she can hardly fathom why her doctor has been the subject of criticism from several former patients and the target of a state Board of Medicine investigation.

"I feel it is ironic that he is getting hounded for his good works," she said.

Derakhshan noted that the latest complaint is likely from disgruntled former patients, who have been discharged.

He says a patient can be discharged for violating an agreement they have with the doctor. "Or we get a credible report that they are selling their medication or they fail a urine test," Derakhshan said.

In 2014, the doctor said he discharged "several hundred" patients, saying he reported the exact total to the state Board of Medicine. The board does not maintain records of discharges, said Robert Knittle, executive director of the West Virginia Board of Medicine.

Derakhshan is set to appear before the state Board of Medicine's hearing examiners on July 28 and 29 to confront the allegations included in the latest complaint against him. The board will not comment on the case until the hearing is over and the doctor's fate is decided.

To view a copy of the full complaint against Derakhshan, visit http://blogs.charlestondailymail.com/capitolnotebook

Contact writer Joel Ebert at 304-348-4843 or joel.ebert@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on twitter.com/joelebert29.

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W.Va. conference offers ideas for healthy community projects http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150603/ARTICLE/150609754 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150603/ARTICLE/150609754 Wed, 3 Jun 2015 10:54:17 -0400 HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - An upcoming conference at West Virginia Wesleyan College is all about brainstorming for healthy community projects.

Try This West Virginia is hosting the conference Friday and Saturday in Buckhannon.

The Herald-Dispatch reports that more than 400 people are registered for the conference that features dozens of exhibitors and sessions on a variety of topics. Attendees will hear about projects already in the works, including community gardens, exercise programs and playgrounds. Grants will be available to set the ideas into motion.

Try This West Virginia is a coalition of groups promoting healthy lifestyles and communities. West Virginia is tied with Mississippi with highest rates of adult obesity in the nation at 35.1 percent.

The conference costs $150. Huntington Mayor Steve Williams is the keynote speaker.

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Online:

www.trythiswv.com

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Report slams state's mental health system http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150602/ARTICLE/150609809 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150602/ARTICLE/150609809 Tue, 2 Jun 2015 19:36:16 -0400

By JOHN RABY

The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s mental health system relies too much on facilities like psychiatric hospitals to treat children and should make changes such as expanding in-home services to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, federal authorities said.

The U.S. Department of Justice said West Virginia never implemented its 2005 response plan to federal requirements that the mentally disabled be placed in the community whenever appropriate.

“The unnecessary segregation of children with mental health conditions violates their civil rights and wastes the state’s fiscal resources,” wrote Vanita Gupta, the acting assistant attorney general for the civil rights division.

The 30-page report released Monday said state child-services agencies have not collaborated to address the needs of children with mental health conditions in different systems, resulting in duplicated efforts, wasted resources, fractured care delivery and confusion.

Changes suggested by the report include eliminating unnecessary residential placements and ensuring that mentally disabled children aren’t kept there longer than necessary. It also calls for expanding in-home and community services and ensuring family involvement.

Long before the report’s release, the state Bureau for Children and Families was given a federal waiver allowing the state to use funding to pay for various mental health services for children in their homes. When the investigation started, the Justice Department “recognized we were working on initiatives to reduce our reliance on residential treatment,” said Karen Bowling, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

Among other things, DHHR also has promoted child development through a program that supports pregnant women and helps parents improve child-raising skills.

The government could take action such as a lawsuit to ensure the state complies, but officials are “encouraged by our positive interactions thus far” with state leaders, Gupta said.

In April 2014, the Justice Department began its investigation of West Virginia programs for children with mental health conditions who enter through child welfare, juvenile justice and Medicaid systems.

The department conducted four visits to assess the system over the next seven months. It toured nine segregated residential treatment facilities and two shelters housing children with disabilities, and visited treatment facilities in two neighboring states where West Virginia places significant numbers of children. Such facilities include group residential care, psychiatric residential treatment facilities and hospitals.

The report found 1,017 children with mental health conditions living in residential treatment facilities in December 2014. That represented 25 percent of all children in DHHR custody, well above the national average of 15 percent.

And 71 percent of placements involving children ages 12 to 17 were in these facilities — a rate higher than 46 other states, according to the report.

Such placements can be expensive. The report noted in fiscal 2012, DHHR spent $67.5 million on residential placements, including more than $20 million on out-of-state placements.

Many mentally ill children on Medicaid are at risk of being unnecessarily segregated or put in institutions because of limited access to services, including children who are minorities, have been exposed to trauma or identify as gay or transgender, the report said.

Hospitals can’t compare to homes for raising children in a healthy environment, said Dr. Toni Goodykoontz, chief of adolescent psychiatry at West Virginia University.

While that’s not always possible because of instances of abuse and neglect or when a child needs acute psychiatric treatment, “where there’s a home for parents to be able to provide nurturing and at least a mom or a dad and sibling, that unit provides a sense of belonging, a sense or nurturing, development and attachment,” she said.

The concern is even bigger in rural areas, where families often don’t have access to mental health care for proper diagnosis and medicine, Goodykoontz said.

The investigation’s results were first reported by The Register-Herald of Beckley.

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Panel discusses drug addiction epidemic, solutions http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150601/DM01/150609901 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150601/DM01/150609901 Mon, 1 Jun 2015 21:00:00 -0400 By Joel Ebert As West Virginia continues to struggle with what experts label an ongoing epidemic of drug addiction, a panel of those focused on combating the problem gathered in Charleston on Monday.

"We are in the middle of an epidemic like never before," said West Virginia Bureau of Public Health Commissioner Rahul Gupta, one of a dozen panelists to gather at the Culture Center.

"It's one of the most serious problems we're facing as a state," said House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. The speaker said the issue of drug addiction, which includes opioid abuse and a rise in heroin usage in recent years, needs to be addressed through not only prevention and treatment efforts but also on the drug trade side.

"We need to put a stop to that," he said.

The 12-member panel, which also included state Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Behavioral Health and Health Facilities Commissioner Vickie Jones, outlined the current state of affairs on the multifaceted topic of drug addiction.

West Virginia Division of Corrections commissioner Jim Rubenstein said the problem still has a massive impact on the state's criminal justice system, nothing that the vast majority of those incarcerated have struggled with drug or alcohol abuse.

While most people think the issue is often centered on the state's adult population, Joey Garcia, who serves as Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's director of legislative affairs, said another there also needs to be a focus on juveniles.

"Drug issues are not becoming an issue that waits until you grow up," he said.

Garcia spoke of the governor's personal connection to the issue, referring to the governor's brother, Carl Tomblin, who was convicted in 2014 of selling prescription pills to feed his own addiction. Garcia noted the latest legislative session featured several bills, including one that recently became law that provides more access to life saving drugs, focused on addressing drug usage and overdose deaths.

Morrisey said that the nature of the issue changes on a county-by-county basis while stressing the importance of creating a coordinated effort among state agencies and officials.

"It is so critical that we all come together," he said.

As a member of the state's judicial system, Benjamin spoke about the prevalence of drugs in West Virginia.

"The drug problem, the drug epidemic, in West Virginia knows no demographic bounds," he said. "It is not a rich problem or a poor problem. It is not a black or white problem. It is not a northern panhandle, eastern panhandle or southern part of the state problem. It is a problem that affects all of the state."

Both Benjamin and Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey praised the accomplishments the state's drug court system but noted that it was not a catch-all solution.

Drug court is an accountability based program, Bailey said, adding, "It is a holistic approach to recovery."

Benjamin called for an increase in the number of drug treatment facilities in the state, which he said today is at the same number as what it was a decade ago.

James Titus, who spent several years in the state's penitentiary system but now works at Union Mission, a Christian counseling organization, said one of the problems with incarceration is he never felt love.

Titus said Union Mission helps people in a different way, teaching them that addiction is not something that makes a person who they are.

"A lot of times addictions are labeled as a disease," he said. "You tell somebody they have a disease and they feel like there's no hope."

Gupta called attention to the fact that as the state struggles with drug addiction, there has also been a rise among high risk populations of communicable diseases.

Gupta also presented several harrowing statistics, including that there has been about 3,000 overdose deaths from prescription drugs and heroin in the last five years.

"Not only has it gone up 600 percent in the last few years we're actually 20 percent over the number two state," he said. "That's the reason such an extraordinary effort is being waged here."

State Police Capt. Timothy Bledsoe said while it is important that the state and officials recognize there is a problem, it is just as important to be proactive, rather than simply reactive.

The forum, which was hosted by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, along with Delegate Chris Stansbury, R-Kanawha, ended with questions from the audience.

The question and answer session was temporarily halted when two audience members spent great lengths advocating for the legalization of marijuana. Armstead was asked about the likelihood of such action, to which he responded that the current political environment made it unlikely.

Another audience member suggested officials consider taking action similar to what Washington state did in recent years, when officials passed a law tightening access to prescription painkillers.

Armstead replied by saying all options should be on the table.

Contact writer Joel Ebert at 304-348-4843 or joel.ebert@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on twitter.com/joelebert29.

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Hurricane High hosts Putnam Special Olympics http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150601/DM01/150609908 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150601/DM01/150609908 Mon, 1 Jun 2015 19:54:25 -0400 By Laura Haight Hurricane High was a whirlwind of activity as it hosted the annual Putnam County Special Olympics spring games for special needs students from all over the county on Monday. Susan Erwin, co-director of Putnam County Special Olympics, has participated in the event with her son for the past 15 years.

Although her son, who is moderately mentally disabled, has moved on to participate in the state Special Olympics, she still enjoys working with the children at the county level.

"I love the kids; I love what it does for my heart," Erwin said. "It makes me feel good. I love to see the smiles."

The Putnam County Special Olympics Day allows students of any disability - mental or physical - to participate in the games.

Games included track and field events, a softball throw, a football throw, ring toss, jump rope, javelin throw and indoor events such as face painting and arts and crafts.

Leslie Greene, co-director and job coach for Poca and Hurricane High Schools, said having a combination of outdoor and indoor events allowed participants to succeed while having fun.

"For the kids who can't go outside and run, this is good for them they can sit and do things with their hands," Greene said. "The whole day is about them being successful."

Greene said the students also learned a lot by spending their school day helping others.

"You'd be surprised how much they just like helping these kids," Greene said. "You see them walking around holding hands with these kids."

Makayla Escue, 16, a sophomore at Hurricane High, said she enjoyed the event last year so she decided to volunteer as a buddy again this year. She said being a buddy changed her perspective.

"It opens your eyes and makes you realize that people don't always have everything you have," Escue said. "I can walk around and do things by myself but she always has to have someone with her."

Breanna Simmons, 17, a junior at Hurricane High School who aspires to be a special education teacher, said volunteering has helped her prepare for her future career.

Simmons said she learned a valuable lesson when a girl without a visible disability approached her for help with an activity while she was volunteering at a game station. It was hard for Simmons to tell the girl had a disability at first.

"Never assume anything about people," Simmons said.

Jenny Destefano, a Winfield resident, attended Special Olympics Day to watch her 14-year-old daughter, Carissa, participate.

She said this is one of two days out of the year Carissa gets to see her best friend who goes to a different school in the county.

"She loves it," Destefano said. "She's with people she enjoys being with."

Destafano said she appreciates watching the event and seeing the high school students help the kids.

"I like the fact that they do have buddies. We've not had a bad buddy," she said. "They all seem to be very good with the kids - they help each other out."

The West Virginia Special Olympics Summer Games will be held Friday through Sunday in various locations around Charleston.

Contact writer Laura Haight at laura.haight@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4872. Follow her at www.twitter.com/laurahaight_.

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Former patients, surviving relatives blame Charleston doctor for painkiller addiction http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150531/DM01/150539900 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150531/DM01/150539900 Sun, 31 May 2015 18:09:50 -0400 By Joel Ebert It took Lynn Robinson more than a decade to beat her addiction to painkillers.

The Boone County resident started popping pain pills, like oxycodone, at the age of 19 after undergoing a spinal tap.

Today, Robinson places most of the blame for her addiction on Charleston neurologist Dr. Iraj Derakhshan.

When Robinson first went to Derakhshan in 2002, he prescribed 120 pills of Roxicodone a month. By 2004, the doctor increased her dosage to 240 milligrams a day.

"I was an addict," Robinson says, "I had track marks up and down my arms."

Robinson is one of many former patients of Dr. Derakhshan who contacted the Daily Mail to share their stories.

Derakhshan, who was born in Iran before coming to the United States and becoming a citizen, prescribes more hydrocodone-acetaminophen than almost any other doctor in West Virginia.

He is currently facing 15 charges outlined in a 40-page complaint filed by the state medical board.

Robinson's experience closely resembles some of the patients who are part of the state's case against Derakhshan.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Derakhshan acknowledged that all the individuals named in this story were his patients.

Calling Robinson's accusations "garbage," the doctor disagrees with the claims made by all of the former patients the Daily Mail spoke with who say he is responsible for their addiction or in some cases responsible for the death of a loved one.

Derakhshan vehemently denies the claim that he poses a threat to the general public.

Instead, Derakhshan accuses law enforcement officials of vilifying opioids and leaving the majority of doctors in the state afraid of prescribing pain medication.

"Today's doctors are so scared that they do not do what they are supposed to do - namely relieve the pain. And they send their patients to me," he said.

He says he is not concerned about patients becoming addicted to prescription painkillers.

"Addiction is a very nebulous subject," he said, noting that people can be addicted to everything from the Internet to pornography. "You get addicted to anything you do more than what you should. This is a behavioral issue. I believe, and I'm among those neurologists that say, addiction is more about the person than about the substance."

While Robinson says it took 12 years, she's nearly recovered from her long battle.

Others haven't been as fortunate.

Barbara Breedlove, another Boone County resident, said her daughter, Lisa Ball, died as a result of a prescription Derakhshan wrote for her in 2004.

When authorities performed an autopsy, they found her stomach contained a combination of oxycodone, citalopram and trazodone, Breedlove said.

Ball's death certificate labeled it an accidental overdose.

"The oxycodone was what killed her," says Breedlove, who along with her husband, Larry, has had to take care of Ball's children, who were 8 and 11 years old at the time of her death.

Breedlove says Derakhshan wrote the oxycodone prescription for Ball after her jaw was broken while she was getting a tooth pulled.

"She called me that day and told me the doctor put her on the medicine," Breedlove says. "She didn't want to take it."

When the Madison Police Department and the Boone County Sheriff's office investigated her death, they found a bottle of oxycodone prescribed by Derakhshan at the scene.

Finding a prescription issued by Derakhshan at the scene of an overdose is a common occurrence in at least one county in West Virginia.

According to a local law enforcement official who asked to remain anonymous in order to avoid compromising cases, "Almost every overdose has a bottle from Derakhshan."

When confronted about this claim, Derakhshan said, "Might be. That's not my fault. That's not my fault. I am a doctor. I am the most referred-to neurologist."

While defending his prescriptions habits ­- which he said are largely for patients suffering from severe migraines and coal mining-related injuries - Derakhshan said the criminalization of painkillers is what is behind the death toll.

"I believe that because of this hoopla about pain medication, it has given a magical power to these medicines to ordinary people. They think if they take more of it, it is good. It kills them when they take too much," he said.

"It is not the substance," Derakhshan reiterated. "It is the person."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called prescription painkiller abuse an epidemic. More than 16,000 people in the United States died in 2012 from overdoses involving opioid painkillers.

In a similar case to the death of Breedlove's daughter, a bottle of pills prescribed by Derakhshan was found next to the body of Richard Lynn Jones Jr., who went by Eric, in January at a home in Smithers, on the border of Fayette and Kanawha counties.

One of his relatives told the Daily Mail that Jones began taking painkillers in March 2014 after visiting Derakhshan.

With no history of drug addiction - he didn't even drink alcohol - Jones became addicted.

"He lost 80 pounds in two months," the relative said.

Ten months after receiving his initial prescription of oxycodone, Jones was found dead with fresh track marks and bleeding arms.

He was 40 years old.

While Jones and Ball were unable to defeat their addiction, others, like Robinson and Deborah Shelton, have survived.

A patient of Derakhshan's for 16 years, Shelton has been through a lot.

"He kept me on nothing but pain pills the whole time," she says today.

Shelton said the reason Derakhshan prescribed her 180 pills of Roxicodone a month was simple - she had multiple sclerosis.

Instead of being prescribed therapy, which can ease symptoms of MS, Derakhshan told her to take the pills. And although she often didn't take the recommended dosage of six a day, Shelton's body changed. She had to have a valve in her heart replaced. She had two strokes. She lost all of her teeth.

Shelton and other medical professionals blame her medical maladies on her past use of painkillers.

"They told me I'm lucky to be alive," she said.

And while she has managed to survive, Shelton says she suffered significant mental anguish as a result of being told she had multiple sclerosis. It wasn't until last year while visiting another doctor that she learned she was not in fact suffering from the disease.

But Derakhshan says Shelton is mistaken.

"I will tell you right now that's an outright lie," the doctor said, noting that he frequently gets patients who come in with an MRI that shows they have multiple sclerosis. Upon further examination, Derakhshan said he discovers they are suffering from migraines rather than the disease.

He suggested that was the case with Shelton.

But Shelton contests the doctor's claims, saying that she knows for a fact he diagnosed her with MS. Besides, Shelton says, she's never suffered from migraines.

Both Shelton and Breedlove mentioned the idea of taking legal against Derakhshan in light of a recent state Supreme Court ruling that might allow patients to sue pharmacies and doctors for negligently prescribing pain medications.

"I would do that for her boys," Breedlove said. "I just want justice for my daughter."

Short of any criminal charges, Breedlove and everyone else the Daily Mail interviewed for this story say they at least want the state Board of Medicine to take action against Derakhshan.

"It is none of their business," Derakhshan said in response to calls for the board of medicine to take action. "I have an unrestricted license with the Board of Medicine."

Upon being asked to respond to claims that he has posed a threat to public safety, Derakhshan said, "I am utterly, utterly befuddled by such even thinking. I am here to help people. I do what the law wants me to do. I obey the law."

Derakhshan is set to appear before the state Board of Medicine's hearing examiners on July 28 and 29 to confront the allegations included in the latest complaint against him.

And although license revocation for the doctor may bring solace to Shelton and Breedlove, others continue to struggle with addiction.

Donna, who would not provide her last name to the Daily Mail, says she had to leave West Virginia last year entirely after Derakhshan prescribed her norcodeine for a bulging disc and seizures.

Derakhshan acknowledged having a patient named Donna during the time period she mentioned but he could not completely verify it was the same person who contacted the Daily Mail without having her last name.

In January 2014, Donna and her three daughters moved to North Carolina in an attempt to escape her addiction.

"When I moved, I completely quit," she says. That led to three hospital trips after her kidneys were shutting down, which she says is a result of the medication.

When she was living in West Virginia and under Derakhshan's care, Donna says she spent a year and a half taking a variety of different drugs including Keppra, Xanax and Roxicodone, which led to an addiction she is still struggling with.

"I'm buying them off the street," Donna said, fighting back tears. "I need help and I don't know where to get it."

Later this week, the Daily Mail will publish a story based off of an hour-long interview with Dr. Derakhshan. The story will feature comments from more of his patients, his philosophy of prescription drug usage, views on addiction and how the actions of law enforcement officials and the state Board of Medicine have adversely affected his business.

Contact writer Joel Ebert at 304-348-4843 or joel.ebert@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on twitter.com/joelebert29.

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CAMC gives overview of construction and expansion http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150527/DM01/150529382 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150527/DM01/150529382 Wed, 27 May 2015 17:05:52 -0400 By Charlotte Ferrell Smith Construction projects at Charleston Area Medical Center improve health care while boosting the economy.

Larry Hudson, chief financial officer, offered a slide presentation and overview of recent and ongoing projects at the regular meeting of the CAMC Board of Trustees on Wednesday morning.

Construction began on the $46 million CAMC Cancer Center in the summer of 2013 and the facility opened May 4 of this year. The radiation oncology department now under construction is to open in October. CAMC Foundation raised $15 million toward the cost of the center. The overall cost was initially estimated to be $50 million but the cost was less than anticipated because the radiology section will cost less than the original estimate, Hudson said.

The $30 million expansion at CAMC Memorial Hospital is targeted for completion during the first quarter of 2016. Three floors are being added above the existing surgery department, including interstitial space. One floor will have 32 private intensive care rooms and 16 private intermediate care rooms. The third floor will contain empty space for an additional 48 beds in the future.

The new emergency department at Memorial covers 22,400 square feet of space with private patient rooms, new equipment and a layout conducive to more efficient treatment. The new area opened in October of 2014. The project cost about $8.5 million.

Work underway at Ambulatory Surgery Center across from General Hospital includes space for additional physician offices at a cost of $2.1 million. Already completed are spaces for urology ($1.9 million) and ophthalmology ($964,800). Work is targeted for completion by June of 2016.

Previous projects have included parking expansion at Women and Children's Hospital a few years ago as well as renovation of the neonatal intensive care unit last year.

Meanwhile, University of Charleston President Ed Welch, who heads the quality committee, reported a decline in the use of blood products for patients. Using fewer blood products reduces complications as well as costs, he said.

"We want to use them appropriately but not excessively," he said.

Gail Pitchford, CAMC Foundation president, said the recent Gala held to benefit Women and Children's Hospital raised $478,000 this year. The event plays a significant role in providing funds for indigent children and families.

Dave Ramsey, CAMC chief executive officer, said the event raised a record amount this year.

Ramsey presented Heart and Soul Awards to members of the housekeeping department for going above the call of duty to deliver a large sculpture to be auctioned at the event. Honorees were Charlie George, John Dempsey, Kenny Gregory, Joe Tucker and Mark Reed.

Also, Pitchford reminded the board of the upcoming Run for Your Life, an event geared to raise funds for colorectal cancer screenings and awareness. The event includes a five-mile run or two-and-a-half mile walk. The event begins 8 a.m. June 20 at Haddad Riverfront Park. Registration fee is $20 before June 14 and $25 after that date. Those who sign up before June 1 qualify for a drawing for a $20 gift certificate for Robert's Running and Walking Shop and three $10 iTunes gift cards.

All participants receive a T-shirt, water bottle, finisher medal, and a beverage ticket to the Smoke on the Water Chili Cook-off.

Registration packets may be picked up 3 to 7 p.m. June 19 at the CAMC Cancer Center parking lot, 3415 MacCorkle Ave. S.E. in Charleston; and on race day at Haddad Riverfront Park from 7 to 8 a.m. Go to www.tristateracer.com to register online. For more information contact Zoltan Povazsay at zoltan.povazsay@camc.org or 304-388-9863.

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

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W.Va. law allowing life-saving heroin treatment takes effect http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150527/ARTICLE/150529413 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150527/ARTICLE/150529413 Wed, 27 May 2015 13:09:45 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A law is taking effect to let first responders, friends and family administer potentially life-saving medication to people overdosing on opioids, including heroin.

The law opening up access to opioid antagonists became effective Wednesday.

Known by the brand name Narcan, naloxone can save people who have overdosed on heroin, prescription drugs or other opioids.

In the law, first responders, police, firefighters, people at risk of overdosing and their family, friends and caretakers could carry the treatment. Health providers would have to offer educational resources on how to use it.

Opioid antagonists are usually in shot form.

Family and friends would be required to take the patient to a medical facility after administering the drug.

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Study shows W.Va. has second-highest obesity rate in the US http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150527/DM01/150529417 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150527/DM01/150529417 Wed, 27 May 2015 11:56:24 -0400 By Joel Ebert For the second time in as many years, West Virginia had the second-highest obesity rate in the nation in 2014, according to a new poll from Gallup-Healthways.

The new rankings, which were released on Wednesday, place the Mountain State's obesity rate at 34.3 percent, which only falls behind Mississippi's rate of 35.2. Both states have had the highest obesity rates in the country since 2012.

West Virginia and Mississippi have frequently had high obesity rates since Gallup-Healthways began their annual poll in 2008.

As recently as 2013, West Virginia had the highest obesity rate in the nation, with 33.5 percent.

Since 2008, the Mountain State has ranked last in the nation three times and has never ranked higher than 47th.

Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri rounded out the top 10 list of states with the highest obesity rates in the country in 2014. All of them had an obesity rate over 30 percent.

In contrast, Hawaii had the lowest obesity rate in the country, with 19 percent.

The national obesity rate was 27.7, which is an increase compared to the year before, when the nationwide average was 27.1 percent. The 2014 national obesity rate was the highest since Gallup-Healthways began their poll.

Colorado, Montana, California, Massachusetts, Idaho, South Dakota, New York, Minnesota and Connecticut round out the top 10 states with the lowest obesity rates.

State-by-state obesity data is collected as part of Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The index is based on respondents' self-reported height and weight, which allow for the calculation of body mass index scores. Those with a body mass index of 30 or higher are considered obese.

Gallup-Healthways has consistently found a link between obesity and general well-being, which is determined using five categories. The organization outlines the categories as follows:

Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals.

Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life.

Financial: Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security.

Community: Liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community.

Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily.

West Virginia remained dead last in the nation in terms of the poll's 2014 well-being rank, with 59.0. The national average was 61.6.

West Virginia has annually been last in the poll's well-being rank every year since 2009. In 2008, the state ranked 49th.

The Gallup-Healthways survey was based on telephone interviews of 176,702 adults conducted from January to December 2014.

The margin of sampling error for most states is plus or minus 1 to 2 percentage points, but is as high as plus or minus 4 points for states with smaller populations, such as Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware and Hawaii, according to the survey.

The full study is available at Gallup.com

Contact writer Joel Ebert at 304-348-4843 or joel.ebert@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on twitter.com/joelebert29.

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Honorary "Run for Your Life" chairman, Chris Stadelman, says he won't let cancer run him http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150526/DM01/150529476 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150526/DM01/150529476 Tue, 26 May 2015 18:47:48 -0400 By Charlotte Ferrell Smith Chris Stadelman has a sense of humor that reveals his zest for life and an outgoing personality that draws people to him.

At 44, he is also quite accomplished with a background in newspapers as well as public relations. On May 16, he celebrated a one-year anniversary as director of communications for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. He lives in South Charleston with wife, Kelly, and their two labradors, Bettis and Crosby.

Because he appears to be physically fit, one would never guess that he fights an ongoing battle with cancer.

"I'm going to run the disease," he said. "I am not going to let it run me. I've always been a little stubborn."

Stadelman is this year's honorary chairman of "Run for Your Life," a five-mile run or two-and-a-half mile walk geared to raise awareness of colorectal cancer as well as provide education and funding for screenings. The event is organized by the Charleston Area Medical Center Foundation.

Stadelman has not previously discussed his illness publicly. However, he decided to do so in order to encourage screenings, raise funds for those unable to afford testing, and to honor his friend, the late Jody Jividen who died in August 9, 2002, of complications of colorectal cancer. Jividen had a 21-year sports writing career at the Charleston Daily Mail. He was an award-winning columnist, well-known chili cook, and avid distance runner.

Jividen died at age 44.

While some folks may have insurance that covers a colonoscopy for those over age 50, screenings may be needed much sooner to rule out or confirm a diagnosis of colorectal cancer.

"As Jody and I would attest, it doesn't always wait until 50," Stadelman said. "People need to pay attention to their bodies, even if they are under 50. Nobody likes a colonoscopy. They are not fun but this is very curable if detected early on."

Stadelman concedes that he probably should have been tested sooner than he was. Last August, he went to see a family physician after experiencing bleeding. He was scheduled for a colonoscopy the following week when a mass was discovered. He went to Sloan Kettering in New York for further testing.

"It had already metastasized to the liver, lung and stomach lining," he said. "So surgery was not an option."

It was determined that chemotherapy must begin as soon as possible. Treatments began in September under the care of Dr. Steven Jubelirer, who treated Stadelman in 1991 for Hodgkin's lymphoma, a condition totally unrelated to the current cancer.

Stadelman recently completed his 16th round of chemotherapy. On alternating weeks, he has intravenous chemo at the new CAMC Cancer Center. He is there as an in-patient for about five hours each visit. After that he is hooked to a portable 46-hour infusion system that he dubs a "man purse." The pack is concealed beneath a jacket when he goes to work.

Fighting fatigue can be frustrating but he exercises as much as possible. Friends, who have helped with chores like cutting grass, encourage him to save energy for walks with his wife.

Recent blood work has been in the normal range with no signs of growing tumors.

"It is stage four," he said. "A cure is not likely but they can manage it. They've done that. A Sloan Kettering oncologist said she would do nothing different than what Dr. Jubelirer is doing. That says a lot about local treatment."

Stadelman hopes his story will make a difference in the lives of others. He wants people to pay attention to their bodies, have early testing, and be aware of the excellent medical care in the area.

Throughout his ordeal, he had one breakdown where he considered skipping treatment. However, once he arrived at the CAMC Cancer Center and talked with the staff his spirits lifted.

"They work to make it as acceptable and tolerable as they can," he said.

He hasn't missed a day's work since his diagnosis and loves being with co-workers where he focuses on the job and not the cancer.

When he is off duty, he rests on bad days and enjoys the good ones when he and Kelly can attend a ball game or a concert.

"We try to find a way to enjoy life," he said. "We focus on weeks and months, not years. The long term can be depressing. We survive the bad times and have fun during the good times. There are breakthroughs all the time. Oncologists love to share their work. No matter where the breakthrough is, word spreads quickly."

Stadelman nurtures a positive outlook with a sense of humor, a good attitude, and prayer.

"We go to St. Marks United Methodist and I am on the prayer list at several churches," he said. "There is no other explanation for how well the treatment has gone. I feel pretty good most of the time."

He again emphasized that colon cancer is highly treatable when detected early. West Virginia has the highest mortality rate from colon cancer and the lowest screening rate in the country. Within the last year, 1,391 screening colonoscopies were performed at CAMC and 144 patients were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Those who need financial assistance for testing may call 304-388-8380 for more information.

In conjunction with the Smoke on the Water Chili Cook-off, Run for Your Life is an official FestivALL event on June 20. The race begins 8 a.m. at Haddad Riverfront Park and takes runners through the city of Charleston, up through Spring Hill Cemetery and back to Kanawha Boulevard to enjoy the festivities around the chili cook-off and FestivALL. A shorter route will be outlined for walkers.

In 2014, more than 270 participants age 8 to 78 raised over $26,000 that was used within the community to provide education and screening measures for colorectal cancer.

Registration fee is $20 before June 14 and $25 after that date. Registration packet pick up will be 3 to 7 p.m. June 19 at the CAMC Cancer Center parking lot, 3415 MacCorkle Ave. S.E. in Charleston; and on race day at Haddad Riverfront Park from 7 to 8 a.m.

For more information contact Zoltan Povazsay at zoltan.povazsay@camc.org or 304-388-9863. Go to www.tristateracer.com for online registration.

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

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