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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Kimberly R. Becher, M.D., a family medicine resident in the Department of Family and Community Health at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, was recently elected to serve as the National Congress of Family Medicine Residents representative to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Becher was elected to the national post by her peers at the AAFP’S National Conference of Family Residents and Medical Students last month. She will serve as the sole resident member on the AAFP’s board of directors representing more than 3,000 family medicine residents nationwide.

“Dr. Becher is the quintessential family doctor.  She is engaged with her patients, cares about her community and is always looking for ways to improve medicine,” said Dr. John Walden, chair of the Department of Family and Community Health. “I cannot speak highly enough of her dedication to improve the health care outcomes of West Virginians and others in the Appalachian region.  She is an outstanding ambassador for our school and our state. ”

Becher, who grew up in West Virginia and graduated from the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in 2011, is in her third and final year of residency and serves as one of the department’s chief residents.   Highly interested in health policy and reform advocacy, Becher also serves as one of Marshall’s Paul Ambrose Health Policy Fellows.

Following residency, Becher plans on working in Clay County for Community Care of West Virginia.

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A woman with a migraine headache that lasted for more than a month came to see Kendra Unger, M.D., for medical acupuncture at the WVU Clark K. Sleeth Family Medicine Center after seeing several other doctors and being told there was nothing they could do except write her a prescription.

“I found the muscle spasm that was causing her pain, and two hours after a 15-minute acupuncture treatment, her headache broke. She’s now down to maintenance appointments every two months,” Dr. Unger said.

As a general practitioner, Unger often saw patients for chronic pain who were on three or four different medications. She was inspired to become a medical acupuncturist through the Helms Medical Institute in Berkeley, Calif., to try to help people feel holistically better without needing more medication. Board certified in medical acupuncture, Unger uses acupuncture in conjunction with her medical training from the WVU School of Medicine. She holds a weekly acupuncture clinic at the Sleeth Family Medicine Center.

For full WVU release: http://wvuhealthcare.com/wvuh/Content/Media/News-Releases/2013/JULY/Medical-acupuncture-at-WVU-Family-Medicine-Center

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The CDC recently sent out some tips for back to school:

Heading back to school is an exciting time of year for students and families. As students go back to school, it is important that they eat healthy and stay active, are up to date on their immunizations, and know the signs of bullying for a healthier and safer school year.

  • Eat healthy and stay active- Our children spend the vast majority of their day at school, so it’s a place that can have a big impact in all aspects of their lives. Schools can help students learn about the importance of eating healthier and being more physically active, which can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases. Prevention works. The health of students—what they eat and how much physical activity they get—is linked to their academic success.  Early research is also starting to show that healthy school lunches may help to lower obesity rates. Health and academics are linked – so time spent for health is also time spent for learning. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and adolescents limit their intake of solid fats, cholesterol, sodium, added sugars, and refined grains. Eating a healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function. Young people aged 6-17 should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Research shows that physical activity can help cognitive skills, attitudes, concentration, attention and improve classroom behavior – so students are ready to learn. 
  • Get vaccinated- Getting your children and teens ready to go back to school is the perfect time to make sure they are up-to-date with their immunizations. Vaccination protects students from diseases and keeps them healthy. The recommended immunizations for children birth through 6 years old can be found here Adobe PDF file, and the recommended immunizations for preteens and teens 7-18 years old can be found here Adobe PDF file.  If you don’t have health insurance, or if it does not cover vaccines, the Vaccines for Children program may be able to help.
  • Heads Up: Concussions- Each year, U.S. emergency departments treat an estimated 173,285 sports– and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, including concussions, among children and teens, from birth to 19 years. (MMWR October 2011) A concussion is a type of TBI, caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works. Concussions can also occur from a fall or a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. Children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults. Concussion symptoms may appear mild, but the injury can lead to problems affecting how a person thinks, learns, acts, and/or feels. Concussions can occur outside of sports or during any sport or recreation activity, so all parents need to learn the signs and know what to do if a concussion occurs with the ABC’s of concussions: Assess the situation, Be alert for signs and symptoms, and Contact a healthcare professional.
  • Bullying- Bullying Adobe PDF file is a form of youth violence and can result in physical injury and social and emotional distress. In 2011, 20% of high school students reported being bullied on school property and 16% reported being bullied electronically through technology, also known as electronic aggression (bullying that occurs through e-mail, a chat room, instant messaging, a website, text messaging, or videos or pictures posted on websites or sent through cell phones) or cyberbullying. Victimized youth are at increased risk for mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, psychosomatic complaints such as headaches, and poor school adjustment. Youth who bully others are at increased risk for substance use, academic problems, and violence later in adolescence and adulthood. The ultimate goal is to stop bullying before it starts. Some school-based prevention methods include a whole school anti-bullying policy, promoting cooperation, improving supervision of students, and using school rules and behavior management techniques in the classroom and throughout the school to detect and address bullying and providing consequences for bulling.

For more tips on heading back to school, please visit our CDC Features page.

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Tri-County Health Clinic in Rock Cave from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 27 and 28. For an appointment, call 304-924-6262.

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/JULY/Bonnie%E2%80%99s-Bus-to-offer-mammograms-in-Buckeye,-Mill

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The newly remodeled Rite Aid will be offering free health screenings this weekend as part of its grand opening on Saturday, Aug. 17.

The store features increased staffing for customer service, an enhanced selection of wellness products and resources, and advanced clinical services including a private pharmacist consultation room at most locations. Wellness Stores are Rite Aid’s latest store design format and are part of the drugstore chain’s continued commitment to providing services, products, and resources to help customers and their families lead healthier lives.

To celebrate the grand opening, Rite Aid is offering free health screenings and product samples. Nurses and our licensed pharmacists will be on hand to provide free services designed to help local residents get and stay well including:

* Total cholesterol testing

* Blood pressure readings

* Memory impairment screenings

* COPD screenings

* Blood glucose testing

Visitors can also sample organic, gluten-free or natural food products and pick up other product samples and coupons.

WHEN:           Saturday, Aug. 17, from noon to 4 p.m.

WHERE:        6401 Sissonville Drive in Charleston, WV – (304) 984-9597

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On Thursday at 1 p.m., WV FREE, a pro-choice org, created a “Twitter Storm” to address WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s proposed regulations on abortion providers, which they believe is politically motivated. WV FREE organized a flurry of tweets, demanding the AG remove his target from clinics

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From the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy:

As states prepare for full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) next year, West Virginia could take advantage of one of the Act’s lesser-known provisions to extend Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage to public employees. According to a report released today by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, such a move could save the state and its public employees tens of millions of dollars while providing more comprehensive health coverage to thousands of children.

Until the ACA was passed, children of state and local employees covered by public employees’ insurance were prohibited from enrolling in CHIP. Now at least seven states have allowed their public employees to enroll their children in CHIP, including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Montana, Pennsylvania, Texas and Vermont.

In its report “West Virginia Should Extend CHIP Coverage to Public Employees,” the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy estimates that nearly 9,000 children under the age of 19 currently enrolled in the Public Employees’ Insurance Agency (PEIA) may qualify to enroll in CHIP. Depending on how many families move their children from PEIA to CHIP, state and local budgets could save up to $6.7 million a year while the families themselves could save $4.7 million.

“In an era of budget cuts where every dollar matters, West Virginia stands to save millions in state and local funds by allowing public employees to enroll their children into CHIP. Thousands of working West Virginia families will benefit from lower-cost, comprehensive health insurance for their children. It’s a win-win,” explained Brandon Merritt, Health Policy Analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

Governor Tomblin can request federal approval to implement this change which would save the state, and local governments, and their public employees tens of millions of dollars over the next decade. It would help state and local governments balance their budgets and put more money into the pockets of thousands of West Virginia families while improving access to health care for thousands of children in low-income families.

The full report is available here.

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Over the past 25 years, there have been advancements in diagnosis and treatment for many kinds of cancer. However, until recently the same was not true for lung cancer.

“Until five years ago, I would have said we had made no progress in improving the survival of patients with lung cancer. But in the last five years we have made progress in improving outcomes and survival,” John Parker, M.D., pulmonology specialist at Ruby Memorial Hospital, said.

Effective screening has played a critical role in catching lung cancer in early stages. Dr. Parker, who is also a member of the Sara Crile Allen and James Frederick Allen Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program at the WVU Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, said early detection has led to a 20 percent increase in survivability.

For full WVU release: http://wvuhealthcare.com/wvuh/Content/Media/News-Releases/2013/AUG/Screening-program-helps-detect-lung-cancer-earlier

Reactions to Smoking Ban Study

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My recent story Study says smoking bans beneficial to state received some feedback. Some positive, some not so positive. Basically, a recent study said that indoor smoking bans have been good for West Virginia businesses, despite them being hotly contested at first.

Here’s some emails I received:

Linda Bricker, VA: I AM SOOOOOO ALLERGIC TO CIGARETTE SMOKE. When I go to other states it shocks me to go into a smoking restaurant.  My hair dresser and her clan smoke in a back room and in alley and the place smells bad to me.  I am grateful for smoking laws and the fact that the smoking bullys haven’t gotten any of them changed back despite the whining about “no one will come in and drink, gamble eat” etc.  PS I am nurse for VA and so many of our vets were given cigarettes while in service they are all dying now.”

Sarah Blyler, Fayetteville, WV: With regard to the following article:  Study says smoking bans beneficial to state Monday, 12 August 2013. I searched and found only 2 pieces of potential “news” in this sentimental and opinionated rehash. One:  “West Virginia counties with indoor smoking bans showed a 1 percent increase in restaurant employment as compared to those counties where smoking was allowed. The remaining eight states saw no significant association between smoke-free laws and employment or sales in restaurants and bars.”  Seriously, right now?…you wrote an article based on this?…Do you understand the term, “statistically insignificant”? Two:  “…smoking causes some $2.4 billion in total economic loss in West Virginia annually.”  Again, this may well be another re-hash, but it is completely unsubstantiated within the context of this article.   What about all of the bar/restaurants that closed in WV as a result of same smoke-free laws? This article’s only possible purpose would have to be a fluffy confirmation that infringing on smokers’ rights is somehow justified.  Since we are so very limited in the ‘news’ available in the valley, please at least have the decency to minimally appear to imagine that there are actually two sides to the issue. ”

Christina Mickey, WV (Smoke Free Initiative of WV): Thanks for reporting on the latest study on economic impact of smoke free laws in WV.   Kanawha Charleston was in the for front in 2007 when it amended it’s regulation to expand protection to most workplaces and joined many other capitol cities across the nation going smoke free. Before 2007, WV had many smaller rural counties already laying a strong foundation for other counties to expand protection. Today, 24 WV counties eliminate smoking in all workplaces and public places, with 14 of those counties boosting some of the highest protection level in the nation from secondhand exposure in workplace and public place.  Let me know if you ever need any information or questions about smoke free laws in WV and the nation.”

Let me know your thoughts.

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Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels, will visit Mercer 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 Bluestone Health Center in Princeton from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 14. For an appointment, call 304-431-5499.

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.

(WVU Release)