On Wellness in WV

Just one month (and one day) ago, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department held its first syringe exchange/harm reduction session at the department, meant to steer addicts toward services and screenings they would likely never have felt welcome to seek out in another setting. It was the result of months of planning and several state and local partnerships, and that first Wednesday saw a good showing — in its designated two-hour, once-a-week window, the health department saw 15 patients.

Response to the program has only grown, according to Dr. Michael Kilkenny, the health officer for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department — yesterday the clinic saw 54 patients, and was forced to extend its visits an extra hour to accommodate them all. In all, the health department has provided 143 services to 111 individual patients since its start just one month ago, and the interest in services beyond the syringe exchange is slowly growing — more than one patient is now on a waiting list to enter rehabilitation, Kilkenny said.

“We’re seeing more engagement with our other services,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of potential to grow, and we’re really hopeful — the recovery coaches always seem like they’re talking to someone, and conversation is where it starts.”

The health department’s harm reduction visits so far:

Sept. 2: 15 patients

Sept. 9: 32 patients

Sept. 16: 42 patients

Sept. 23: 54 patients

Note for Sept. 23: of the 54 patients seen yesterday, 34 of them were new, and 20 returning patients, according to Kilkenny.

Of course, the program is just getting started, and Kilkenny expects more expansion in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.




After weeks of accusations, rebuttals and, most recently, a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to defund the women’s health organization, Planned Parenthood is still in the hot seat, thanks to a series of heavily redacted hidden-camera videos from anti-abortion the Center for Medical Progress that show Planned Parenthood executives and affiliates candidly discussing harvesting fetal tissue from abortion procedures. More specifically, the practice of selling aborted fetal tissue in the service of medical research — something that was declared legal in 1975 and has persisted with Planned Parenthood clinics and other organizations that provide abortions in the U.S. ever since, according to the American Society for Cell Biology.

The 10 videos the Center for Medical Progress has released since July are striking, but as of today, none of Planned Parenthood’s abortion practices have been declared illegal, despite an ongoing federal investigation and a handful of state investigations into its practices.  

Arguments have been made against the legitimacy of the videos, the morality of fetal tissue donation and research, and  the role of Planned Parenthood itself in our nation’s healthcare system. I’m going to skip all of those discussions, as they’re better served by other sources, and get to what I think is most important to recognize in this issue in terms of its effects in West Virginia. While abortion is perfectly legal, only 3 percent of what PP does involves abortive services, and of course, almost none of the money used for abortions comes from the federal government.

(Note: it’s important to note that while PP does provide few abortions when compared to its other services, many of those services are far less expensive than an abortion, which skews the organization’s budget quite a bit. Look here for a more extensive explanation of that.)

The national issue of PP funding became a state one this week, when Speaker of the House of Delegates Tim Armstead penned a letter to Karen Bowling, essentially asking her if it would be feasible to “divert funding” from West Virginia’s only PP clinic, located in Vienna.

Tim Armstead’s letter, in its entirety, to DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling, dated Sept. 21:

Letter to DHHR regarding Planned Parenthood


Bowling has not yet responded to Armstead, although she is working to compile the information Armstead requested, according to the DHHR.

In an article in today’s Gazette-Mail, capitol reporter Phil Kabler writes that, somewhat obviously, the clinic in question does not receive $800,000 per year. Kabler writes that “records with the state Auditor’s Office show that, since Aug. 1, 2014, the DHHR’s Division of Health has made 111 payments to the Planned Parenthood facility totaling $78,648. That does not appear to include any payments by Medicaid for individuals’ office visits to the clinic.” House of Delegates spokesman Jared Hunt told Kabler the $800,000 figure “came from a legislative staff analysis of the budget documents for the DHHR’s Family Planning Program, which showed $803,000 in state funds and $2.4 million in federal funds provided for Planned Parenthood of West Virginia.” Bowling later issued a statement correcting that, explaining that the $803,000 was used “to purchase bulk supplies for approximately 150 providers across the state who participate in family planning services.”

As noted in the Speaker’s letter, the Vienna clinic does not perform any abortions. STD testing? Yes. Breast exams? Of course. Armstead is asking the DHHR to take funding away from a small clinic and give the money it receives for services — services that do not include the service he protests — and give it to another clinic that would perform all of those services and consequently absorb the nearly 1,000 unduplicated patients the clinic sees each year. Nevermind whether it’s necessary or kosher to do something like that in the case of this particular clinic — I’m still waiting to hear if it’s possible without an interruption in services. Tisha Reed, deputy director of WV FREE, the state’s largest women’s health advocacy group, thinks not:

“Removing Title X funding from the Planned Parenthood site does nothing to address (Armstead’s) concern regarding the practice of fetal tissue donation, but would definitely affect access to women’s healthcare, which he states he does not wish to do,” she says. “The only certain outcome would be to remove a vital provider of reproductive healthcare services for men and women.  If this clinic were to be defunded, only one site would remain in Wood County for Title X Family Planning services such as contraception and cervical and breast cancer screening-the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department.  This location is only staffed with an advanced practice nurse or specialized women’s health care physician one day per week — Tuesday — and is unable to absorb the demand that exists. This means that visits are by appointment only and problem situations either have to wait for an appointment or visit an emergency-care facility.  Removing funding would cause a disparity of care for many men and women in Wood County who are not able to confine their need to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays only.”

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the second time in three years, Bingyun Li, Ph.D., associate professor in the West Virginia University School of Medicine Department of Orthopaedics and director of the WVU Biomaterials, Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Laboratory, has been recognized internationally for his research.

Most recently, Dr. Li received the Asia Pacific Orthopaedic Association (APOA)-Pfizer Best Scientific Paper Award. The award was presented at the 2013 Combined Conference of the Fifth APOA Infection Section Scientific Meeting, Ninth Asia Pacific Spine Society Congress and Ninth APOA Paediatric Section Congress. It was held at the end of August in Kuching, Malaysia. More than 650 orthopaedic surgeons and residents from around the world, including about 12 orthopaedic surgeons and scientists from the United States, attended the conference.

In 2011, Li was awarded the Berton Rahn Research Fund Prize from the AO Foundation, a Switzerland-based medically guided nonprofit organization led by an international group of surgeons specialized in the treatment of trauma and disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

For full release: http://wvuhealthcare.com/wvuh/Content/Media/News-Releases/2013/SEPT/WVU-School-of-Medicine%E2%80%99s-Li-receives-prestigious-a

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A study about the correlation between discrimination and drug abuse by Haslyn E. R. Hunte, Ph.D., assistant professor in the West Virginia University School of Public Health Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and San Diego School of Public Health professor Tracy L. Finlayson has been published online in the Journal of Urban Health.

In the study titled, “The Relationship between Perceived Discrimination and Psychotherapeutic and Illicit Drug Misuse in Chicago, IL, USA,” Dr. Hunte and Finlayson found that more experiences of discrimination by a person are related to higher levels of drug use.

“One of the interesting findings of this study is that discrimination is harmful to all groups of individuals, not only racial or ethnic minorities,” Hunte said.

For full release: http://wvuhealthcare.com/wvuh/Content/Media/News-Releases/2013/SEPT/WVU-public-health-researcher-examines-link-between

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Seventh Annual Froggy 99 Hop for Hope and Z106 Cares for Kids Radiothon benefiting West Virginia University Children’s Hospital at Ruby Memorial will hit the airwaves live on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

WVU Children’s Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network and Froggy will host the radiothon at the Kroger store on Washington Boulevard in Belpre, Ohio, broadcasting live from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 17 and 18.

Radio personalities will tell stories about children who have benefited from services provided by WVU Children’s Hospital. Patients are also scheduled to visit the radiothon to share their stories on air. In 2012, families from the mid-Ohio Valley turned to WVU Children’s Hospital more than 2,800 times and found hope and healing.

To date, the radiothon has raised more than $321,000 in support of WVU Children’s Hospital.

For full release: http://wvuhealthcare.com/wvuh/Content/Media/News-Releases/2013/SEPT/Parkersburg-radiothon-to-benefit-WVU-Children%E2%80%99s-Ho

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A half million dollar endowment providing scholarships for female students enrolled at the West Virginia University School of Medicine has been made possible by the late Ruth St. John in memory of her daughter.

The Dr. Judith Buff Memorial Scholarship Fund will benefit female students who are West Virginia residents and are either the first in their families to attend an institution of higher education, descendants of West Virginia coal miners or interested in coal miners’ health.

St. John, a native of Charleston, never set foot herself on the WVU campus, but the recent resurgence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis – black lung disease – as well as her late daughter’s perseverance in the medical field inspired her generosity. St. John passed away in 2011.

Judith Buff, M.D., graduated from the WVU School of Medicine in 1972. She was one of only two female students in her class, falling on the wrong side of the gender disparity in the medical profession at the time. Undeterred, after residency training at the University of Cincinnati, she began a career as a dermatologist. Dr. Buff passed away from cancer in 1999.

For full release: http://wvuhealthcare.com/wvuh/Content/Media/News-Releases/2013/SEPT/Dr-Judith-Buff-Memorial-Scholarship-Fund-created-f

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Alejandra Meza, a first-year student in the West Virginia University School of Medicine Pathologists’ Assistant (PA) Program, spent 10 days last month in Gaborone, Botswana, assisting with a six-day training for histopathology laboratory staff at the National Health Laboratory (NHL).

Meza, originally from Los Angeles, was one-fourth of a team of pathology professionals sent by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) to southern Africa on a global health trip August 1-13. Their mission was to instruct 17 participants in the theory behind the histotechnology practices outlined in their instruction manuals.

Histotechnology is the process of grossing, or cutting, fixing and staining a tissue sample on a slide to be examined and diagnosed by a pathologist.

Cherie Germain, P.A., director of WVU’s PA Program, recommended Meza for the team because of her prior histology experience and her experience working with limited resources in an Army combat support hospital.

For full release: http://wvuhealthcare.com/wvuh/Content/Media/News-Releases/2013/SEPT/WVU-pathology-student-trains-laboratory-staff-in-B

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels, will visit Pleasants County offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women.

A service of WVU Healthcare and the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Bonnie’s Bus will be at the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department in St. Marys from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 23.  For an appointment, call 304-684-2461.

The mammograms are billed to private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare if available. Mammograms for women who do not have insurance will be covered by the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (WVBCCSP) or through special grant funds from the West Virginia affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. No woman over 40 is turned away due to lack of funding.  A physician’s order is needed for a mammogram.

For full release: http://wvuhealthcare.com/wvuh/Content/Media/News-Releases/2013/SEPT/Bonnie%E2%80%99s-Bus-to-offer-mammograms-in-St-Marys

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels, will visit Jefferson County offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women.

A service of WVU Healthcare and the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Bonnie’s Bus will be at the Kingdom Life Cathedral Health Fair at the Ranson Civic Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 21.  For an appointment, call 304-283-0115.

The mammograms are billed to private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare if available. Mammograms for women who do not have insurance will be covered by the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (WVBCCSP) or through special grant funds from the West Virginia affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. No woman over 40 is turned away due to lack of funding.  A physician’s order is needed for a mammogram.

For full release: http://wvuhealthcare.com/wvuh/Content/Media/News-Releases/2013/SEPT/Bonnie%E2%80%99s-Bus-to-offer-mammograms-in-Ranson

Charleston, W.Va. (Sept. 12, 2013) – Dr. Julie Testman, Associate Professor at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, fulfilled requirements for the qualifications as a Fellow of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists ASCP).

ASCP Fellowship is a special honor bestowed upon pharmacists who meet the highest standards in Senior Care Pharmacy and have demonstrated an extraordinary level of service and dedication in professional practice activities.

A Fellow of the Society must fulfill rigorous criteria established by the ASCP Board of Directors. A Fellow must demonstrate dedication and achievement in professional activities, educational activities, professional innovation, advocacy and civic activities.  An ASCP Fellow has made a commitment to go above and beyond the traditional pharmacy practice by distinguishing themselves through exemplary service and important contributions to the practice of senior care pharmacy and to society.

Dr. Testman earned her doctorate of pharmacy degree from West Virginia University School of Pharmacy in 2005.  She completed a PGY-1 residency in Pharmacy Practice at Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, W.Va.

Mr. David Bowyer, Interim UCSOP Chair, Department of Pharmacy Practice said, “This recognition is richly deserved and emblematic of the dedication Julie provides to both her students and her patients.  She has always shown tremendous respect for the profession and it is very gratifying to see her honored for her efforts.”