www.wvgazettemail.com Health http://www.wvgazettemail.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2016, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Kanawha health department to look at flood response http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160721/GZ0115/160729869 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160721/GZ0115/160729869 Thu, 21 Jul 2016 19:23:02 -0400 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum Kanawha-Charleston Health Department staff pitched in on recovery efforts following the flooding that devastated parts of West Virginia late last month and will continue to work with communities still struggling with the aftermath.

The health department helped man the pop-up health clinic in Clendenin, administering tetanus vaccinations and providing other support services. Employees of the department also helped run an emergency operations center to aid flood survivors as well as a shelter established in Capital High School, Kanawha County health officer Dr. Michael Brumage told board members during a regular meeting on Thursday.

"We had a very robust response to flooding here," Brumage said. "Our sanitarians, of course, will be doing the yeoman's work, the heavy lifting that will be going on for months looking at septic systems and wells."

Brumage said the flood was the largest disaster anyone working at the health department has ever responded to, and the agency plans to hold an "after-action review" on Aug. 11 with several other agencies to evaluate the county's response.

"This was the first time a field clinic had to be set up in Kanawha County," he said. "Coordinating the clinical aspect of this is something that was executed well, but I think we can improve on the speed and the comprehensiveness of services we were able to provide."

The health department has balanced its budget for the next fiscal year, after electing not to hire four of its vacated full-time staff positions.

The agency will look toward other revenue sources to combat budget cuts, including a food handler card requirement that still is out for public comment, said Lolita Kirk, health department administrator. The agency also will likely need to raise its rates for other services it provides, she said.

"We haven't done it in five years, and we'd be raising them to be in line with those of the other larger health departments in the state," she said. "We've been looking at what they're doing, and we're adjusting ours to help cover the costs of our programs."

One program relatively new to the health department is its initiative to trap and test mosquitoes in the county.

Stan Mills, the KCHD's director of environmental health services, said the agency will test more areas than the state has been able to test in years past and will test for multiple diseases, including La Crosse encephalitis, West Nile virus and even Zika virus, although he said the potential for Zika is incredibly unlikely.

Earlier this week, the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health confirmed the state's first case of Zika virus in a pregnant woman, bringing the total number of West Virginians who have contracted the mosquito-borne illness up to eight.

Despite one case in Florida where public health officials suspect local mosquitoes may have contributed to an illness, there has been no real indication that mosquitoes anywhere in the U.S. carry the virus.

"There's a lot of talk about Zika, and it's intriguing, but the real problem we have now is with things like neonatal abstinence syndrome, mothers with uncontrolled diabetes and smoking when it comes to birth defects," Brumage said.

Brumage also noted that none of the nine cases of Zika reported in West Virginia since January are from Kanawha County.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at


304-348-5189 or follow

@lydianuzum on Twitter.

WV addiction summit slated for next week http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160721/GZ0115/160729911 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160721/GZ0115/160729911 Thu, 21 Jul 2016 14:25:48 -0400 CHESAPEAKE, W.Va. (AP) - Health officials, law enforcement officers and other specialists will gather next week for a summit on addiction issues in West Virginia.

The event will take place Monday evening at the Dr. Lisa Curry Annex in Chesapeake.

Kanawha County state Delegate Chris Stansbury will host the summit.

Participants will include State Health Officer Dr. Rahul Gupta; state Division of Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein; state Supreme Court Justice-elect Beth Walker, Marshall University School of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Kevin Yingling and others.

The event will be free and members of the public can ask questions.

Flooding may cause dangerous germs in recreational water, officials say http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160719/GZ0115/160719504 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160719/GZ0115/160719504 Tue, 19 Jul 2016 16:41:13 -0400 From staff reports By From staff reports Local public health officials warn that recent flooding may have contaminated recreational waterways in West Virginia, increasing the potential for gastrointestinal diseases and infections among those who enjoy them.

According to the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, because heavy rains and flooding cause sewage and pet, livestock and wildlife waste to flush into natural waters, there is an increased risk of harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites in lakes, rivers and streams. A health department release also noted that a broken sewer line for the Elk River Public Service District and overflow from private septic systems could contaminate recreational waters, but that filtered water from that system is safe to drink.

The health department recommends swimmers avoid stagnant, bad-smelling or slow-moving water, keep their heads above water and avoid swimming with open wounds. People should wash or shower thoroughly with soap and clean water after coming into contact with or swimming in flooded areas.

Gastrointestinal diseases found in contaminated water may cause vomiting, diarrhea or nausea, and floodwater can also cause ear, eye and skin infections. Those with symptoms should report possible cases or outbreaks to the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

Zika confirmed in pregnant WV woman http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160719/GZ0115/160719522 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160719/GZ0115/160719522 Tue, 19 Jul 2016 10:53:37 -0400 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum West Virginia public health officials have confirmed the state's first case of Zika virus in a pregnant woman, bringing the total number of West Virginians who have contracted the mosquito-borne illness up to eight.

According to the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, the woman traveled on a mission trip to a country where the virus is commonly found.

"She was ill, showed symptoms, was treated and is recovering," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer and commissioner for the bureau. "At this point, we've been able to send the samples and get the results, and we're monitoring the pregnancy very closely.

"It's important to raise awareness in these situations and re-emphasize that the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has stated that, if you are pregnant, you should not travel to areas impacted by Zika."

Gupta would not release more information about the woman, including whether she was aware of her pregnancy while traveling.

In addition to the travel warning for pregnant women, the CDC recommends that women of child-bearing age use birth control for eight weeks after traveling to a Zika-endemic country, or for six months if they become symptomatic.

"At this time, there are a lot of things we don't know about the virus, especially with regard to pregnancy," he said. "We don't know how many of the women who acquire Zika during their pregnancy will have adverse outcomes, in terms of their babies being impacted. We also don't know the rate of transmission from mother to child. We also don't yet know the extent of different birth defects - we know there are linkages to microcephaly and other significant fetal brain defects, as well as blindness, but as for the rate of those, we don't know."

The pregnancy will now be monitored by the Bureau for Public Health's Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health through the U.S. Zika Pregnancy registry because of the increased risk of microcephaly and other potential birth defects, according to Gupta.

Microcephaly is a neurodevelopmental disorder that occurs during fetal development and causes abnormally small heads and impaired brain development in affected children.

The state has tested 36 West Virginians for Zika, so far this year, with eight confirmed cases of the virus among people who have traveled abroad. There are three patients whose test results have not been returned yet - all three pregnant women, according to Gupta.

"The point that's most important here is that, if you're pregnant, you're not recommended to travel [to Zika-endemic countries]," Gupta said. "For the overwhelming majority of women who are of childbearing age and who are traveling for tourism or missionary work or other activities, that's when they're most at risk; when you aren't planning for it or you're not aware of being pregnant and are traveling. At that point, you should consider taking every precaution."

Dr. David Patton, a Charleston OB-GYN, said that although a person's chances of contracting Zika abroad are still relatively low, he tries to advise patients who plan on traveling to Zika-endemic countries to take appropriate precautions, and for pregnant patients to reconsider traveling at all.

"Any time someone travels, we discuss their travel plans. We've had a couple of people who were going to go to Central or South America on vacation, and we talked about the importance of maintaining good birth control during that time period," Patton said. "I had one patient who was supposed to go to a wedding in Columbia, and we actually talked her out of it. She's currently pregnant, and that's one of the countries on the watch list. After a long discussion, she decided it was better not to go, even though it's a long shot."

Patton added that pregnant women who insist on traveling are safe to use insect repellents that contain DEET, and should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

"If you're pregnant, especially if you're in the early stages, I would recommend holding off on travel," he said. "If you're of child-bearing age and planning to travel - say you plan on going to the Olympics in Brazil this summer - then you should maintain good birth-control practices there and for a while after you return to the U.S."

Although there have been no reports of mosquito transmission of the disease in the United States, there have been several cases in which the virus has been transmitted by sexual contact. Gupta said men who travel to countries where Zika is prevalent should use condoms or another form of birth control for at least six months.

A case reported this week in Utah of a caregiver who potentially contracted the virus from an dying elderly relative has highlighted some lingering unknowns about the virus' transmission, and Gupta said the state's Zika Task Force is working to ensure that its monitoring practices and recommendations are kept up to date.

The state can now perform its own Zika testing, Gupta said, which should expedite future tests on patients.

The bureau has launched a website, www.zikawv.org, that tracks cases of the virus in West Virginia and provides travel recommendations and other updated information on the disease.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow @lydianuzum on Twitter.

MCHM 'flushing' likely exceeded EPA health guidance, study says http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160716/GZ0115/160719613 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160716/GZ0115/160719613 Sat, 16 Jul 2016 15:35:00 -0400 Ken Ward Jr. By Ken Ward Jr. Kanawha Valley residents likely breathed in levels of the chemical crude MCHM that exceeded a federal inhalation advisory level while they were "flushing" their home plumbing systems following the January 2014 spill that contaminated the region's drinking water supply, according to a little-noticed study made public earlier this year.

The study, co-authored by an engineer hired by the Tomblin administration to investigate the spill's effects, used computer modeling to estimate the potential concentrations of chemicals released into the air during the flushing process. The study emphasized that, because federal, state and local agencies coordinating the response to the spill did not take indoor air quality measurements, "the extent of this incident is still unknown."

In the study, modeling by researchers at Colorado State University and Purdue University found levels of MCHM in indoor air during the "flushing" advised by state officials and West Virginia American Water was greater than concentrations considered acceptable under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "screening level" that EPA developed months after the spill.

The modeling used the highest level of MCHM found in the region's drinking water distribution system and also lower MCHM concentrations from later tap water sampling that was done in later January 2014, after the "do not use" order was lifted.

In some instances, such as flushing of a kitchen sink, the modeling found that air concentrations of MCHM were only higher than the EPA inhalation guidance when those air concentrations were based on the highest levels of MCHM found in the region's water. In other instances, such as flushing of bathroom sinks and half-bathroom sinks, the MCHM levels in the air were modeled to have been greater than the EPA exposure guidance when the modeling used the lower levels of chemicals found in tap water weeks after the spill.

While far from definitive, the study at least seeks to address one of the key issues left unexamined in any meaningful way by federal government scientists when they earlier this month issued a final report asserting that the spilled chemicals were found to have no adverse health effects at the doses residents would have been exposed to by drinking contaminated water.

"I am not aware of any organization that conducted indoor air chemical monitoring during the spill and there is some uncertainty in modeling," said study co-author Andrew Whelton, a Purdue engineer whose previous work on the spill included an investigation for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. "As a result, we cannot be 100 percent certain what the exposures were, but modeling results indicate it is plausible residents were exposed to levels above EPA's inhalation screening level."

Whelton noted that other research has provided evidence of a connection between adverse health effects and inhalation exposures to MCHM.

One study found that half of the residents surveyed by the researchers involved reported that at least one member of their household became sick because of exposure. One-third of households surveyed by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and one-fifth of households surveyed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention experienced health issues they thought were attributable to the spill, that study also reported.

That study also reported that there were two "peak" times when residents reported health problems, one that corresponded with the Jan. 9 "do not use" order and another that matched the plumbing system flushing activities. Another study reported that "the large number of individuals with symptoms does raise the question of how to handle the situation more effectively in future incidents."

Whelton said the study results indicated that flushing hot contaminated water would result in greater chemical exposures than if hot water had been shut off and water had cooled. The new results also indicated that ventilation could help limit chemical levels in the indoor air from accumulating.

"The worst-case exposures seem to have been inside a room where little or no ventilation occurred, hot water was flushed, and chemicals accumulated in the indoor air," Whelton said.

State Public Health Commissioner Rahul Gupta, who was Kanawha County's top public health official during the water crisis, said that the new study "seems to be a fairly well-done paper with scientific findings applicable to future events."

"Inhalation risk of volatile substances should be kept in mind whenever dealing with such situations," Gupta said.

The Jan. 9, 2014, spill at Freedom Industries occurred just 1.5 miles upstream from West Virginia America's regional water intake, which provides drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people in Charleston and surrounding communities. The water company did not close its intake, and after contaminated water entered the treatment plant and the distribution system, authorities issued a "do not use" order that advised residents not to drink, cook with or bathe in their tap water.

Over the course of the next week, state officials and the water company lifted the water advisory as sampling from portions of the distribution system - taken from hydrants, not from people's homes - showed the chemical levels had dropped below a highly controversial emergency drinking water guideline put together by the CDC in the hours after the spill.

Residents were then advised that they could clear any remaining chemicals from their home plumbing systems by running hot and then cold water faucets throughout their homes for specific periods of time.

Whelton co-authored a previous study that criticized the specific flushing guidance, and co-authored another paper that reported that no scientific basis could be found for the flushing protocol residents were advised to use. Before issuing the flushing protocol, state officials rejected a recommendation from federal public health officials that residents be advised to flush their home plumbing systems until they could no longer smell the licorice-like odor of MCHM, the main ingredient in the Freedom spill.

Whelton said that changes to the flushing guidance - such as shutting off water heaters, opening windows and doors, or turning on window fans - likely reduced indoor air contamination levels for homes where he and a team of graduate students assisted residents.

"This personal safety guidance was not recommended to my knowledge by any agency that responded [to the spill]," Whelton said last week. "It should have been. The responders knew the chemicals in the drinking water were volatile and they didn't know what inhalation exposures would be toxic."

The day after the Freedom spill, the CDC quietly dropped plans to devise a "screening level" for what amount of MCHM in the air would be dangerous if inhaled. Agency officials cited the lack of data on MCHM's potential health effects, saying without such information it would be impossible to come up with a trustworthy number.

Many months later, the EPA came up with an air inhalation screening level for MCHM in October 2014 for use to monitor emissions during the demolition of the Freedom Industries site where the spill occurred. Even then, though, the EPA said their figure suffered from many of the same shortcomings caused by lack of adequate studies of MCHM: It was based on only one toxicity study, which examined pure MCHM, not the "Crude MCHM" mixture that Freedom used and spilled, and the study did not actually examine health effects of inhalation of the chemical.

The EPA inhalation guidance was based on data about rat exposure to MCHM and potential effects on the kidneys and liver.

On July 8, the National Toxicology Program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued what it called a "final report" on its investigation of the potential for MCHM exposure related to the chemical spill to make people sick. The agency's work was done at the request of Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and the Tomblin administration.

The NTP review has been billed as a definitive review of the spill's potential health effects and the state Department of Health and Human Resources has said the results show the state "took appropriate public health measures" after the spill.

The final federal report said that "most of the spilled chemicals had no effects in the studies that were performed." And when the chemicals did produce effects, those effects occurred "at dose levels that were considerably higher" that residents would have received from drinking contaminated water, the report said. NTP officials, though, conceded that their work did not look at inhalation exposures.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1702 or follow @kenwardjr on Twitter.

Beckley free clinic treats more than 1,700 in 3 days http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160715/GZ0115/160719647 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160715/GZ0115/160719647 Fri, 15 Jul 2016 16:54:11 -0400 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum From the surgeons who removed a softball-sized lipoma from a patient to the dentists who stayed hours past closing to treat all-comers, the "pop up" mega clinic held in Beckley this week leaned on hundreds of volunteers to treat the more than 1,700 people who walked through its doors.

More than 730 volunteers from a range of professions, including roughly 200 West Virginians, helped run the free clinic on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They performed 30 surgeries, gave 180 haircuts and more than 800 massages, saw more than 800 eye patients and treated hundreds of dental patients, according to Celeste Ryan Blyden, communications specialist for the event.

Victor Zill, the secretary-treasurer for the Mountain View Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, which covers most of West Virginia, said his time volunteering for the event showed him that, for many West Virginians, affordable and accessible healthcare is hard to find. The Your Best Pathway to Health clinic was organized, in part, by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which emphasizes "body wholeness" among its members.

"It was so exciting to see," he said. "This is the first event like this I'd ever been to, and I didn't know what to expect. There is a great need, and I was amazed to see the long lines of people who really needed health care."

The Adventists plan to hold trainings, starting Sunday, that teach health providers how to organize and carry out similar clinics on a smaller scale. For Zill, the prospect of organizing more free clinics on a smaller scale is one he believes closely aligns with the mission of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

"I did not hear a single negative thing. Everyone was like, 'I can't believe this. This is tremendous,'" Zill said. "I heard someone say, 'this is what being a true Christian is.' Overall, people are just so thankful. There was a number of times that people would be waiting in line and I would wonder what they were feeling, and when I talked to them they were so thankful."

While a few patients traveled from other states to access the clinic's services, Blyden said the vast majority of those who came through it were West Virginians.

"On the first day, we only had five dentists, and after that we had nine, so the fact that that group was able to see so many patients is amazing," she said. "They stayed late, just trying to make sure they could see as many people as possible and make sure they weren't forced to turn anyone away."

Zill noted there were a few hurdles that had to be overcome - the clinic required a recent change in state law to allow outside medical providers to practice in West Virginia on a temporary basis. There will be a lot of similar logistical concerns to iron out before the Mountain View Conference can hope to host its own smaller clinics, but Zill said he's excited about the future.

"We're exploring ways to be able to hold more clinics. We're in the planning stage," Zill said. "Talking with others in the church, we really want to do this more...right now it's too early to say when some future event may happen, but I know we want to, and we're exploring our options."

The clinic also performed 597 lab tests, and the results of those tests will be available for pick up at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Beckley on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The clinic will host three public health seminars Saturday at the convention center. Addiction and How to Overcome with Kyle Allen will begin at 9:30 a.m. Secrets of Living Well (part 1) with Dr. John Chung and Chester Clark will begin at 10:30 a.m., and Secrets of Living Well (part 2) with Chung and Sebastian Braxton will begin at 7 p.m.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow @lydianuzum on Twitter.

WV pop-up clinic treats 500 on first day http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160713/GZ0115/160719795 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160713/GZ0115/160719795 Wed, 13 Jul 2016 17:30:22 -0400 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum BECKLEY — When Denise Battle arrived outside the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center at 3 a.m. Wednesday, it was pitch black outside.

Battle waited for two more hours inside her parked car before joining the line of people forming outside the building, where others had been camping out since the day before, in the rain, for the doors to open.

“I’m thankful that I waited in the rain,” she said. “I’m thankful that I came here.”

Battle had driven six hours from Washington, D.C., after seeing a Facebook post about a mega “pop-up” clinic organized, in part, by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, of which she is a member. Battle was there for what she called a dental emergency.

The Your Best Pathway to Health clinic, a three-day medical clinic that offers free health care on a first-come, first-served basis, opened its doors at 7 a.m. Wednesday, and Battle said she was in a chair and seeing a dentist by 10 a.m., where they were able to take care of her problem.

“I had a dental emergency,” Battle said. “I went to two dentists, and they couldn’t resolve it. I’m really glad that I came. The issue wasn’t even money; they just didn’t resolve it. It was like, ‘Oh, it’ll go away,’ but it didn’t. I needed antibiotics, and this dentist was very thorough.”

Dental work — from fillings to root canals to cleanings — is one of the most popular facets of the free clinic’s offerings. Inside the convention center, scores of people waited for the makeshift dental clinic, where rows of reclining dental chairs lined an open room, and teams of dentists and dental hygienists worked on patients side by side.

“All of my back teeth are broken, so I want to get as many pulled as I can,” said Ruth Adkins, of Hinton. “With an X-ray, the cheapest I’ve found around here is $185. I can’t afford that.”

Anna Byrd, of Mullens, said she came to the clinic because she saw an opportunity to take care of a few cavities before they got worse.

“I’ve got Medicaid, and it doesn’t cover fillings,” she said. “I don’t want to have my teeth pulled. Thank God, this is here; this is perfect.”

Everyone who visited the convention center Wednesday was sent first to triage, where their medical needs were evaluated and they were sent to another part of the clinic. Some patients took advantage of more than one service, while others had to choose a secondary service because of high demand — Joseph Hornsby, of Bolt, said he opted for an eye exam after the dental clinic was forced to stop accepting more patients.

Dr. Art Calhoun, a family-practice doctor in Doddridge County, had seen more than 15 patients by 11 a.m. for a range of problems, from uncontrolled high blood pressure to diabetes.

“Most of them just weren’t being treated, for one reason or another,” he said. “We also spend some time talking to patients about lifestyle; we have a lifestyle section of the clinic. I’ve seen some people who don’t necessarily need medicine, but if they could change some things about the way they live, they would see improvements.”

For Larry Boggess, president of the Mountain View Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, which covers most of West Virginia, the Beckley clinic aligns perfectly with the church’s mission to “provide wholeness” for people.

“We know from statistics that West Virginia does not have the best reputation, in terms of health, so our goal is to provide health education. We want to help people to know how to improve their lives,” Boggess said. “Seventh Day Adventists are known to help promote healthy lifestyles ... we want people to know that their friends, the Adventists, are here to help them — that there are people who want to partner with communities to help them not to be challenged by health problems.”

Boggess said this week’s clinic isn’t the end of temporary free clinics in Southern West Virginia — the Adventists plan to hold training, starting Sunday, that teach health providers how to organize and carry out similar clinics on a smaller scale.

Boggess, who grew up in Ohio, across the river from Weirton, and who moved to Beckley 27 years ago, said he lobbied for the clinic to be held in Beckley because he had witnessed many of the particular struggles West Virginians have with health care access and affordability.

By the end of the day, the clinic had treated 518 patients, including more than 250 in its eye clinic alone. Celeste Ryan Blyden, communications coordinator for the event, said the group hopes to see at least 500 more Thursday.

The clinic is staffed by more than 730 volunteers, from medical providers to massage therapists to beauticians, many of whom travel from city to city to participate in the clinics. After experiencing their work firsthand, Battle said she hopes to join them.

“Now that I’ve seen the operation,” she said, “I definitely want to volunteer.”

Dental services provided by the clinic include fillings, crowns, extractions, cleanings and root canals. The event allows patients to visit doctors from several specialties, including primary care, pulmonology, pediatrics, podiatry and gynecology, and surgeons are on hand to perform minor general and orthopedic surgeries.

The clinic also provides pharmacy services, medical massage, physical therapy, X-rays, lab services, STD screenings, immunizations, eye exams and eyeglass fittings, haircuts, financial counseling, chaplaincy services and free meals.

The clinic will continue Thursday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and from 7 a.m. to noon on Friday. For more information, call 1-888-447-2849 or visit www .yourbestpathwaytohealth.org.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow @lydianuzum on Twitter.

Colenda retires from WVU after seven years of leadership http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160711/GZ0115/160719909 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160711/GZ0115/160719909 Mon, 11 Jul 2016 13:13:50 -0400 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum For Dr. Christopher Colenda, West Virginia University's place in the state's health care landscape is more vital than ever, and something he hopes will continue to grow even after he's gone.

Colenda served for five years as chancellor of the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center before spending the last two and a half years as president and CEO of the West Virginia United Health System, with one year spent serving in both positions. He will retire from WVU on August 31.

Before coming to WVU, Colenda served as dean and vice president for clinical affairs at the College of Medicine of Texas A&M Health Science Center, psychiatry chair at Michigan State University, section head of geriatric psychiatry at Wake Forest University, and program director of geriatric psychiatry at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University.

Colenda had intended to retire from his last university, Texas A&M, but said an offer from WVU was one he couldn't pass up.

"I thought I would retire from Texas A&M, but I met (former WVU president) Jim Clements, who recruited me back in 2009," he said. "He was a very persuasive recruiter."

Since coming to WVU in 2009, Colenda has overseen a number of changes to the Health Sciences campus and WVUHS, the addition of three hospitals to WVUHS, including Potomac Valley Hospital in Keyser, St. Joseph's Hospital in Buckhannon, and later this year, Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Glen Dale. He has also overseen the development of a joint operating agreement among West Virginia University Hospitals, University Health Associates, and the West Virginia University School of Medicine, and was instrumental in helping establish the WVU School of Public Health.

"The health care delivery system is rapidly transforming, and my area of focus and interest has always been in developing an integrated health care system that spans the continuum of care, from primary care to specialty care to acute care to post-acute care, and having a major part of that in an academic medical center type of focus," he said. "When you develop an integrated system of care, you're more able to do the right things for patients at the right place and deliver quality services."

According to Colenda, the system's focus on integrated care and rural care expansion over the last several years has been important for West Virginia, a rural state that often sees problems with health care access for its residents.

"Our state is primarily a rural state, and we wanted to be able to develop points of access to care throughout the region," he said. "By bringing in primary care practices and regional hospitals under the WVU Medicine umbrella, we were able to accomplish that."

Colenda, who has worked in health care for 40 years, said he is proud of the accomplishments of the health system under his tenure, and hopes it will become one of the nation's premier health care systems in the coming years.

"I am extraordinarily thankful to the 12,000 employees that really do think about health care and patient care services foremost in their daily lives," Colenda said. "It has been a privilege for me to work with highly motivated individuals that have the high purpose of providing health care."

Albert L. Wright, Jr., the current president and CEO of WVU Hospitals and chief operating officer of the WVUHS, will replace Colenda effective Sept. 1. Wright, whose background is in pharmacy, said he is excited for the future of WVUHS, and he hopes to strengthen Colenda's existing focus on rural and population health across the state.

"I think we're in a 'golden moment' in West Virginia right now," Wright said. "When you look out, there aren't many systems that look like WVU Medicine and WVUHS - we are the academic medical center for the land-grant institution in West Virginia, and we're building a care network of our hospitals that really ranges from the Potomac River in the east all the way over to the Ohio River in the west. We're creating a network of institutions and 'care points' that position us exceptionally well for population health."

Wright said he hopes to preside over more mergers and "win-win" partnerships, as well as advances in technology that will allow the system to be more creative in patient care.

"The big, exciting thing is that as we build this network of care providers that are integrated through our electronic medical records and protocols, over the next five years I am going to have a major focus, working with my colleagues, on population health," he said. "We will shift our resources from disease recovery, where we're treating people when they're really sick, and shifting toward keeping people healthier and acting on disease before it goes too far."

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow @lydianuzum on Twitter.

Jog for Jessa honors runner, funds facility for developmentally disabled http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160711/GZ0115/160719912 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160711/GZ0115/160719912 Mon, 11 Jul 2016 12:54:30 -0400 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum Leah Turley has never been a runner, but she plans to lace up her tennis shoes later this month in honor of another - her best friend, Jessa.

"As happy as I am to get out there and support Jessica, at the heart of it, it's the most devastating thing that has ever happened to her family," Turley said. "I never, in a billion years, thought that this is what I would be doing this year."

Turley has organized a 5K run/walk in honor of Jessica Grubb, the Charleston native whose battle with addiction captured President Obama's attention during his visit to West Virginia last year. Grubb - a dedicated runner, loving sister and "the most authentic person" Turley has ever known - died earlier this year in Michigan, after the doctor who discharged her from a hospital there prescribed her powerful opioid painkillers following surgery for an infection.

"In that way, Jessa was not unique; there was nothing remarkable about her addiction," Turley said. "Most overdoses, specifically with heroin and other opiates, are accidents. She had been clean for (six months) and had that moment of weakness when a doctor prescribed her a large number of painkillers, even though it stated on her medical forms more than 10 times that she was an intravenous drug user. She still walked out with a prescription."

Jog for Jessa will be held on July 23 at Kanawha State Forest. The event costs between $25 and $30 to register, and the proceeds will go toward two causes that are near and dear to the Grubbs. One is Jessie's Law, legislation co-sponsored by Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin that would allow the addiction status of patients to be more prominently displayed on their medical records. The other is a vision Grubb often talked about - a residential living facility for adults with developmental disabilities like Grubb's younger sister, Emma.

"I have a feeling that, because of what we've gone through, in one way or another, we're going to be working on these issues for the rest of our lives," David Grubb, Jessica's father, told the Gazette-Mail in May. "I think right now, the pressing need from our perspective is passing Jessie's Law ... but there are so many other aspects, so many other issues, like the creation of treatment centers. Especially with our experience with Jessie - she couldn't even get into a facility in West Virginia because of the waiting lists, and so we were forced to take her somewhere far away, and that was very, very hard."

Turley said Grubb's struggle with addiction highlighted the many issues the country still has with treating addicts - Grubb was forced to travel to Michigan for rehab after she could not find a spot in a West Virginia facility - but that her struggle was a testament to both how strong she was and how strong opioid addiction is.

"I want people to remember that she kept trying," Turley said. "With rehab, you have to rip your whole life apart and look at how addiction has affected everything. That is a gut-wrenching thing to go through once, and she was willing to go back as many times as it took - the amount of strength it must have taken."

The event will begin at 9 a.m. on July 23 at Kanawha State Forest's Shelter No. 9. Those who register by Friday will pay a $25 fee; registration after Friday costs $30, and the first 200 racers to register will receive a "Jog for Jessa" T-shirt.

To sign up, visit www.tristateracer.com and follow the calendar link for the month of July. To learn more about the race and the causes it benefits, visit www.facebook.com/Jog4Jessa.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow @lydianuzum on Twitter.

Beckley free clinic could treat thousands http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160709/GZ0115/160709606 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160709/GZ0115/160709606 Sat, 9 Jul 2016 18:37:49 -0400 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum A charity that provides free medical and dental care plans to bring its "pop up" clinic to Beckley later this week, and is gearing up to provide services to thousands of West Virginians.

Your Best Pathway to Health, a project of the Adventist Laymen's Services and Industries and the Seventh Day Adventist Church, will operate the no-cost clinic inside the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The clinic is volunteer-driven and offers a number of medical services, including things ranging from minor surgeries to root canals and x-rays, on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Costin Jordache, director of communications for Your Best Pathway to Health.

"The Seventh Day Adventist Church has well over 100 years of history when it comes to providing health care to communities," he said. "We operate one of the largest hospital networks, and this was an outgrowth of our historical involvement in communities - we realized we could provide acute medical, dental and surgical care to those who are uninsured or underinsured."

The organization estimates it will be able to provide up to $3 million in free medical care in the three days the clinic will be operational.

Your Best Pathway to Health has been hosting the clinics since 2014, and a similar clinic held in Los Angeles in April provided medical care to roughly 8,500 people. Jordache said while the charity has held several "mega-clinics" in large metropolitan areas, Beckley will be its first rural clinic.

"We'd just come out of Los Angeles and thought, 'let's try Pathway to Health in a smaller community,'" he said. "There are medical needs in small communities, and a small group of Adventists came forward and said 'we want to try something like this in Beckley.'"

Volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses and others will provide the services using donated supplies, and patients do not have to provide proof of insurance or identification to be treated. Debbie Hensley, a volunteer for the clinic who lives near Huntington, said she learned about the clinic through her church and wanted to be involved.

"We're hoping to see upwards of 2,000 people in the three days the clinic will be functioning," she said. "It's an opportunity to give back; I feel like God has blessed me in many ways, and it felt like an opportunity for me to work as a missionary of health."

Hensley said she hopes West Virginians affected by the recent flooding, in particular, will be able to take advantage of the clinic.

"I'm so grateful for the people volunteering, and even flying in here, to work in service of the people who have been so devastated with recent events, on top of often not being in able to pursue their medical and dental needs," she said.

Naomi Tricomi, the coordinator for the Beckley event, said the organization had a few issues with getting in to West Virginia before now, because the clinic often brings in out-of-state doctors, but the state did not recognize out-of-state medical licenses for doctors providing temporary services.

West Virginia has since allowed for medical license reciprocity, and outside doctors can participate in clinics like the Beckley one for up to seven days.

"Laws have since passed so that we can bring our physicians, dentists, nurses and others into the state on a temporary basis, and that wasn't possible until now, so we're very, very thankful," she said.

Dental services provided by the clinic include fillings, crowns, extractions, cleanings and root canals. The event will allow patients to visit doctors from a number of specialties, including primary care, pulmonology, pediatrics, podiatry and gynecology, and surgeons will be on hand to perform minor general and orthopedic surgeries.

The clinic will also provide pharmacy services, medical massage, physical therapy, x-rays, lab services, STD screenings, immunizations, eye exams and eyeglass fittings, haircuts, financial counseling, chaplaincy services and free meals.

The clinic runs from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and from 7 a.m. to noon on Friday. For more information, call 1-888-447-2849 or visit www.yourbestpathwaytohealth.org.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at


304-348-5189 or follow

@lydianuzum on Twitter.

FTC dismisses complaint against Huntington hospital merger http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160706/GZ03/160709742 GZ03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160706/GZ03/160709742 Wed, 6 Jul 2016 18:56:01 -0400 From staff, wire reports By From staff, wire reports The Federal Trade Commission voted to dismiss without prejudice its administrative complaint challenging the proposed merger between Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center, according to a media release.

The FTC's administrative complaint, which was issued in November 2015, alleged the proposed merger violated U.S. antitrust law. The FTC voted to dismiss the complaint after the passage of a new West Virginia law pertaining to certain "cooperative agreements" between hospitals in that state, the release said.

West Virginia Health Care Authority approved a cooperative agreement between the hospitals and the state Attorney General's office concurred, according to the release.

"This case presents another example of healthcare providers attempting to use state legislation to shield potentially anticompetitive combinations from antitrust enforcement," the commission wrote in a statement. "The Commission believes that state cooperative agreement laws such as SB 597 are likely to harm communities through higher healthcare prices and lower healthcare quality."

The commission voted to approve the statement and withdraw the administrative complaint 3-0, the release said.

U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., called the FTC's complaint "a gross overreach into an issue best settled at the state and local levels," in a news release.

"I worked closely with West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to draft an agreement between St. Mary's Medical Center and Cabell Huntington Hospital to protect employees and patients and preserve choice for an individual's healthcare needs," Jenkins said in the release.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey applauded the commission's decision in a statement issued by his office.

"The FTC's decision spares taxpayers the costs of a protracted litigation," Morrisey said in a news release. "This merger, as regulated by our assurance and new legislation, will lead to positive results for consumers. We're grateful for the FTC's decision as we would have prevailed in court."

A teaching hospital affiliated with Marshall University, Cabell Huntington Hospital previously entered into an antitrust agreement in July 2015 with Morrisey's office that was later amended to resolve concerns about the merger's effect, the news release said.

St. Mary's has 393 beds and Cabell Huntington has 303 beds. They are 3 miles apart and are the top two private employers in Cabell County, with nearly 5,000 total employees. The combined operation would represent the second-largest hospital chain in the state behind Charleston Area Medical Center.

Kanawha, Putnam health departments offer July vaccine clinics http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160706/GZ0115/160709758 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160706/GZ0115/160709758 Wed, 6 Jul 2016 15:37:57 -0400 The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and the Putnam County Health Department will offer vaccination clinics on Tuesday from noon to 3:30 p.m.

Students entering school in West Virginia are required to have up-to-date vaccination records. Both health departments offer vaccination clinics in August prior to the beginning of the school year, but Kanawha-Charleston spokesman John Law said the departments want to encourage parents to bring their kids in earlier to avoid the rush in August.

Parents should bring their children's vaccine records to the clinic, and appointments are recommended. To make an appointment at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, located at 108 Lee Street East in Charleston, call 304-348-8080. To make an appointment at the Putnam County Health Department, located at 11878 Winfield Road in Winfield, call 304-757-2541.

WV ex-neurologist Derakhshan sentenced to probation in opioid case http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160706/GZ0118/160709772 GZ0118 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160706/GZ0118/160709772 Wed, 6 Jul 2016 11:03:26 -0400 Kate White By Kate White After asking a federal judge to have mercy on him, a former Charleston neurologist was sentenced Wednesday to spend three years on probation, including six months on home confinement, for failing to record his dispensing of a high-powered prescription painkiller.

A beleaguered Iraj Derakhshan, 72, gave up his license to ever again practice medicine when he pleaded guilty in April to a felony federal record keeping charge.

"I stand before you having admitted to a - what I believe is a technicality, but nonetheless - a violation. I pleaded guilty, I feel remorse," Derakshan told a judge before he was sentenced Wednesday. "I beg for your understanding and mercy."

The charge carried a statutory maximum four-year prison sentence and potential $250,000 fine. Federal advisory sentencing guidelines recommended Derakhshan's sentence range from no time in jail to a prison term of up to six months and a fine between $500 and $5,000.

U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver Jr. ordered Derakhshan to pay a $10,000 fine within three months, unless bankruptcy court requires additional time. Derakhshan filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in June.

"I see no likelihood of you ever committing other offenses of any kind," Copenhaver told the doctor.

The judge also explained why he believes the sentence he handed down is enough to deter others from committing similar crimes: "The spectacle of this particular matter is certain to deter anyone from engaging in like conduct."

During his plea hearing in April, Derakhshan admitted that, on June 18, 2015, a patient identified as "Patient A" brought him their remaining prescription of fentanyl, after having an adverse reaction to the opioid drug. That same day, Derakhshan distributed that fentanyl, in an unknown amount, to another patient, identified as "Patient B."

Derakhshan never recorded distributing the drug. Federal law requires doctors to keep a separate log book to track the dispensation of controlled substances.

"The defendant made it impossible to follow and track that fentanyl as it went from 'Patient A' to 'Patient B.' The ability to do that is critical," Assistant U.S. Attorney Miller Bushong said.

Derakhshan's lawyers, John Kessler and Michael Carey, told the judge that the doctor was just trying to prevent his patient from being in pain.

"He didn't dispense anything for monetary gain," Carey said.

Derakhshan repeated that sentiment as he left the courthouse Wednesday.

"I am a doctor, and I am obligated to help people," he said.

In a sentencing memorandum filed last week, attorneys for Derakhshan asked that Copenhaver avoid sending their client to prison. The harm the doctor's reputation has suffered is enough of a punishment in itself, Carey said Wednesday, before noting some of the doctor's accomplishments.

Derakhshan has authored numerous publications that have appeared in medical journals and been peer reviewed, according to Carey. He's also raised three sons: two who are doctors and another who is a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Federal prosecutors didn't file a sentencing memorandum and, before the judge sentenced Derakhshan, Bushong said only that, "The United States recommends a guideline sentence."

Copenhaver rejected a probation officer's findings that the doctor should receive a sentencing enhancement for being the organizer or leader of criminal activity that involved five or more participants or was otherwise extensive. Prosecutors agreed that the doctor didn't deserve that finding.

The judge did, however, agree with prosecutors and probation officers in finding that Derakhshan should receive a sentence enhancement for abusing a position of trust.

Before Derakhshan was charged, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided his Quarrier Street office on Feb. 9, looking for the medical records of 64 patients who had died from overdoses between 2010 and 2015 while under the care of Derakhshan. An affidavit signed by a federal law enforcement officer that was unsealed later in February provided details about the investigation into the former neurologist.

Beginning last summer, area pharmacists began refusing to fill Derakhshan's prescriptions. In June 2015, after ranking several times among the top prescribers of controlled substances in West Virginia, Derakhshan was stripped of his registration number with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, rendering him unable to legally prescribe drugs.

His lawyers said Wednesday that Derakhshan could have gotten that number back after completing several continuing-education courses, but the agreement Derakhshan made with federal prosecutors required that he permanently surrender his DEA registration number.

In January, the West Virginia Board of Medicine suspended Derakhshan's medical license for three years. Derakhshan dropped an appeal of the suspension he had filed in Kanawha Circuit Court when he pleaded guilty to the federal charge.

Attached to the sentencing memorandum filed by Derakhshan's lawyers was a report written by Lewis Brewer, the lawyer who served as the hearing examiner for Derakhshan's case before the Board of Medicine. Brewer wrote that Derakhshan hadn't improperly prescribed or dispensed controlled substances and that the doctor was within the limits of the law in his attempt to treat his patient's pain.

The suspension was the result of Derakhshan's failure, at times, to maintain appropriate medical records and give proper instructions for the use of controlled substances.

Copenhaver read aloud the parts from Brewer's report Wednesday that Derakhshan's attorneys said showed that the doctor hadn't committed other crimes.

"The court also takes into account ... the suspension would have allowed you to regain the ability to practice medicine," Copenhaver said. "However, once you were convicted in this case, revocation was virtually automatic."

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @KateLWhite on Twitter.

Clendenin health clinic works to fix damage caused by flooding http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160705/GZ0115/160709806 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160705/GZ0115/160709806 Tue, 5 Jul 2016 17:02:25 -0400 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum The Cabin Creek Health System clinic in Clendenin is still recovering from the flooding that ravaged parts of Southern West Virginia more than a week ago, but at least part of the clinic is expected to return to its offices early next week.

Amber Crist, the director of program development for Cabin Creek, said the clinic is housed on the second floor of a renovated middle school on Koontz Avenue in downtown Clendenin. The first floor, which has been converted into apartments for senior citizens, was evacuated prior to the flooding but was heavily damaged, Crist said.

"We were really fortunate - our health center didn't take on water because it's on the second floor," Crist said. "However, the first and third floors are senior apartments, and the first floor was completely submerged. Located on the first floor were electrical panels, the elevator, the fire alarm system - basically anything you need to operate a building, and it got washed out with the flood."

Employees from the Clendenin health center are seeing patients at two of Cabin Creek's other locations in Sissonville and Kanawha City, and have set up a temporary clinic outside the health center in Clendenin for patients who can't travel to another location, Crist said.

"FamilyCare in Charleston also allowed us to utilize their mobile unit, an RV, and so we've been borrowing it," she said. "Patients can be seen for acute, urgent issues and for their regular follow-up appointments. Last week we gave 1,437 [tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis] vaccinations."

Crist said they hope to have pharmacy services back in the Koontz Avenue building by early next week, but that patients can still pick up their medications at one of the other Cabin Creek locations or have it brought to them in Clendenin. For more information, call Cabin Creek Health System at 304-548-7272.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow @lydianuzum on Twitter.

Negative mental health effects predicted for some WV flood survivors http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160704/GZ0115/160709828 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160704/GZ0115/160709828 Mon, 4 Jul 2016 19:59:08 -0400 Erin Beck By Erin Beck In Clendenin, most of the buildings are still standing. Volunteers from all over have descended on the town. The dust is flying. Piles of debris are everywhere.

But when you look at many of the buildings from the outside, you can barely tell they were submerged in several feet of water less than two weeks ago. You can't always tell if they're completely gutted inside.

The people, too, will tell you that they're holding up well. They're focused on immediate needs - salvaging what they can, ensuring food and shelter. They'll tell you they're "blessed" and that others have it much worse.

Even displaced flood survivors at Capital High School will say they are just taking it a day at a time and they're doing fine.

But the crisis counselors who have been on scene since the beginning will tell you about the panic attacks they've witnessed.

The counselors are passing out cleaning supplies and bottled water, and asking what the flood survivors need, like many other volunteers. But they also are teaching deep breathing techniques and talking to survivors about how they're coping.

When rain is in the forecast, there are frequent glances toward the sky.

Janet Rollyson sat in her front yard on Maywood Avenue on Friday with her neighbor, Carol Williams, a week after several feet of water rushed inside their homes.

"I think we're all good because we're busy," Rollyson said. "I think when we're less busy, that's when it will hit us."

A few minutes later, the forecast came up in conversation. "I want you to worry with me," Williams said to Rollyson.

In the past week and a half, West Virginians have heard a lot about resilience; "West Virginia strong" is the refrain.

But before the floods hit last Thursday, West Virginians were already suffering. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report, West Virginia had the highest rate of serious mental illness in the country, at 5.5 percent.

Tracy King, a licensed social worker and disaster response team coordinator at FMRS Health System, noted that West Virginia already has a high rate of some of the factors that make people more vulnerable in times of trauma, including domestic violence, poverty and experiencing previous traumatic events.

"When something like this flood happens, it's insult to injury," she said.

Her team of counselors has been working with flood survivors in Lewisburg and Rainelle. She predicts that FMRS Health System will see more clients suffering from post-traumatic stress and other forms of anxiety, and that existing mental health problems will get worse.

For the most part, at least for now, people are exhibiting inner strength, King said.

"A lot of people have been like, 'We've been through this before, we'll get through it again,' " she said. And many people will bounce back from the flood relatively unscathed, according to mental health experts.

But a group of people, particularly those with pre-existing mental health conditions or those who had been through traumatic events before, might experience long-term mental health effects as a result of the disaster.

Studies show a post-traumatic stress disorder prevalence ranging from about 5 percent to about 60 percent in the first one to two years after a disaster, with most studies showing prevalence in the lower half of this range, according to a 2005 literature review in Epidemiologic Reviews.

"I think we're going to see individuals who will be very resilient and weather this and I think we are going to have individuals coming out in droves wanting to help," said Karen Yost, CEO of Prestera. "That's going to be comforting to people.

"We're going to have another group of individuals that's not going to be so easy for," she added. "Some of those individuals may have mental illness and previous trauma. It's going to be from one end to the other. We're going to see both."

Prestera has also had mental health counselors working on the ground.

Dr. Emily Selby-Nelson, a psychologist with Cabin Creek Health Systems, has been going from door to door in Clendenin, passing out hygiene products, baby wipes and other items. She passed out crayons and paper for children.

"Toys are familiar," she said, gesturing to the destruction around her. "This is not. This is completely not like home.

"I'm going to try to get something with music, because all they hear is trucks and generators."

Cabin Creek Health Systems set up two tents to give people tetanus shots, attend to their medical needs and ask about their mental health, as well.

Many of the people they see are too focused on immediate needs to really process what's happening to them.

"Many of them are in shock because this is their life and it's just been washed away," Selby-Nelson said.

She predicts that by the time some of the effects start sinking in, much of the help that has descended on Clendenin will have left the area.

Selby-Nelson said her organization will be there for them whenever they're ready. Even though its building was flooded too, workers plan to make repairs and stick around.

Her organization's mission is to provide integrated medical and behavioral health services in rural areas with less access to care, like Clendenin - areas that already had less access to transportation and money for health care, before the flood.

"Those barriers are just going to increase exponentially, and that's why we're staying," she said.

She noted that the rebuilding process will take time.

She said it's "not just the rebuilding of the structures and the homes and the communities."

"It's also the rebuilding of the people."

Mental health care providers said they want to encourage the flood survivors to seek help if and when they need it.

"Sometimes in West Virginia, we're stoic people," Yost said. "We take care of our own. People are sometimes hesitant to admit that 'I'm not doing well with this.' Sometimes people don't seek services when we need them. I would say to people, help is available. Don't hesitate to ask for it if you need it, because we can help. People don't have to suffer in silence."

Reach Erin Beck at erin.beck@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5163, Facebook.com/erinbeckwv, or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.

Big Chimney primary care practice destroyed by floods http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160703/GZ01/160709874 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160703/GZ01/160709874 Sun, 3 Jul 2016 18:32:12 -0400 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum Water was already lapping at the front door when Dr. John Richards reached his clinic.

Inside, it was bubbling up through the carpet, having already filled the building's lower floor. Richards and one of his employee's sons got to work immediately, stacking records and computers on top of desks in an effort to save them.

"We tried to do all we could - fortunately, one of my employee's daughters was driving by and saw all the water, took a picture and sent it to me," he said. "I jumped in the car ... by the time we got here, the water was already underneath the subfloor. We got everything unplugged and put all the computers as high as we could; it saved a lot of information, but it didn't save the actual equipment."

Mountain State Spine & Health is now a skeleton of wall studs and crumbled drywall inside, but the trees that surround its back lot tell the story of the flood's magnitude - a nearly perfect coat of mud, more than 10 feet tall at the lowest corner of the lot, paints the trees' trunks and lower branches. A few pieces of heavy equipment exercise physiologist James Wiseman was working to hose off Thursday afternoon and some odds and ends are all that remains of Richard's 27-year medical practice - three loads of refuse had already been carted away after an insurance adjuster cleared the property for cleanup Tuesday.

"It's devastating," Richards said. "I will be extremely disappointed if we can't get back on our feet and running again."

For days after the flood, the clinic remained largely preserved the way the water had left it, with chairs, desks and filing cabinets crowded into the back of the clinic, pushed over and away by rising floodwater.

"As the water was coming in, it was just picking stuff up and moving it toward the back," Wiseman said.

A seven-foot-tall cabinet of patient charts acted as a marker inside the clinic, where soggy, bloated stacks of paper filled the lower five-and-a-half feet of shelves.

In the end, the mountain of ruined medical charts came up to Wiseman's chest.

"You could probably salvage some of it, but once you're taking page by page - if you've ever seen paper that's been soaked like that, once you start touching it, it just rips to shreds," he said. "You can't do anything with it."

Wiseman had spent Thursday morning in the parking lot of the practice, taking down names of patients and quick notes describing their medical needs. It was what he and Richards had been doing for days, with the doctor writing replacement prescriptions for patients who needed refills or who lost their medicines in the flood - in their own homes, or in one of the area pharmacies that also flooded.

"I've worked here 17 years, and we had water come in one time. It came in through the front doors and left a little water damage, but it's never, ever flooded like this," said pre-certification specialist April McGee. "We have a couple of lines set up that patients are calling on and leaving us messages, and we can still send prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy ... as long as they're not controlled substances."

The building that houses Mountain State Spine & Health has offices on two levels - the lower level, which has the clinic and D&R Discount Carpet, was devastated, while the Dollar General that sits atop the other two went largely undamaged. Richards said the layout of the practice will likely change - it needs another entrance to be up to code. But despite some hesitancy from the insurance company, the building's landlord intends to rebuild, and Richards thinks the renovations could go fairly quickly.

"The way the workers have been going at it, I wouldn't be surprised," he said. "Once they get all the wiring in and things like that, it's all pretty straightforward."

In the meantime, Richards has been offered a space in 2345 Chesterfield Ave., a CAMC-affiliated practice near the University of Charleston, and will begin practicing there with a handful of his employees on Tuesday. He hopes to return to his Big Chimney practice as soon as he can, he said. Richards took over the practice, already a decade old, back in 1989, and has watched other primary care doctors drift away from the Elkview and Big Chimney area in the last 10 or 15 years. He is the only physician who works in the 12-employee clinic.

"I've been alone in this community, other than the Clendenin clinic, which was also just completely trashed," Richards said. "I see people from Mink Shoals all the way up to - gosh, I have patients who come all the way from Ripley."

Things could have been worse - the office has already converted all of its patient records into electronic ones that they can still access, and Richards, who lives in Charleston, said he and his employees were largely spared from flood damage in their own homes.

The clinic's biggest worry now is managing the roughly 40 patients Richards saw every day.

"We have so many elderly patients in this area who have seen him for 25 or 30 years," McGee said. "We were here the other day cleaning out and they were all stopping in because they were all just so worried. A lot of them are on oxygen or need nebulizer supplies, things like that, and they've only come to him for that. I think they're uncomfortable going to MedExpress. He's their doctor."

Reach Lydia Nuzum at

lydia.nuzum@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow

@lydianuzum on Twitter.

SNAP recipients can get help replacing food lost in floods http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160701/GZ01/160709947 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160701/GZ01/160709947 Fri, 1 Jul 2016 13:24:58 -0400 Staff reports By Staff reports West Virginians who lost food they purchased with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in the recent flash foods may be eligible for help replacing it.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended a deadline to report SNAP losses in 21 counties affected by the flood, according to a release from the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

Counties approved for the extension are Boone, Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, Monroe, McDowell, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Roane, Summers, Wayne and Webster. SNAP recipients in those counties have until July 22, 2016, to file for replacement benefits.

Food-stamp recipients in other counties who lost food in the flooding have until Tuesday, July 5, to report the loss.

"Receiving this extension assists families who are facing devastating losses and challenging circumstances," Nancy Exline, commissioner of the Bureau for Children and Families, said in a release. "I am thankful for the USDA's support during this difficult time."

The recipient would need to complete a DFA-SNAP-36 form in a local DHHR office.

For more information, call DHHR's Customer Service Hotline at 1-877-716-1212.

Grant helps communities become 'dementia friendly' http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160629/GZ0115/160629512 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160629/GZ0115/160629512 Wed, 29 Jun 2016 18:58:27 -0400 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum Seven agencies across West Virginia plan to make their communities safer and more inclusive for those suffering with Alzheimer's and dementia by expanding services and outreach to sufferers, carers and citizens.

The West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services has received a three-year grant from the Administration on Aging and the National Alzheimer's and Dementia Resource Center that will allow agencies that receive the award to assess community needs and plan accordingly.

Recipients of the Alzheimer's Disease Supportive Services Program grant include Community Living Initiative Corporation in Morgantown; Good Shepherd Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers in Shepherdstown; Kanawha Valley Senior Services; Lewis County Senior Citizens Center; Coalfield Community Action Partnership in Mingo County; Raleigh County Commission on Aging and The Committee on Aging for Randolph County.

"For most families, the goal is for their loved ones to live at home for as long as possible and as independently as possible, and it's tough to do that when you hit barriers," said Nancy Cipoletti, director of Alzheimer's Programs for Senior Services. "It could be very complicated governmental agency issues, but it can also be things as simple as trying to go to the bank or the grocery story, so the more people in a community who understand this disease and how to communicate concerning it, the better things will be for those families."

Each agency has already developed ideas it hopes to implement, Cipoletti said, and each will get a chance to tweak their plans, in partnership with the state, after their community needs assessments are completed - likely within the next six months. Each community will get two $5,000 awards - a total of $10,000 over two years - and another group of at least eight agencies will receive the same grants next fall.

"At the end of our grant process, we will have a way for any community in the state to take this project and make their own communities more dementia-capable," Cipoletti said. "In West Virginia, starting at the grassroots level is a very good idea; folks are already identifying other communities that I think would embrace this kind of approach."

Representatives from each agency described different plans - The Committee on Aging for Randolph County hopes to create two support groups, one for family caregivers and one for individuals with early stage dementia, as well as a buddy system for both support group attendees and as a stand-alone program for individuals in rural areas.

"Randolph County is a unique place - it's very big geographically, so we're sort of spread out," said Laura Ward with the CARC. "We wanted to design something that would raise awareness throughout the whole county about dementia services to deal with that issue."

Several of the agencies also hope to create respite events for caregivers and support groups for dementia sufferers and caregivers.

Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is a progressive degenerative brain disease that affects 5.4 million Americans. It causes cognitive decline and a loss in the ability to perform routine tasks. In West Virginia, 12 percent of seniors are living with Alzheimer's disease, and that number is expected to increase to 22.2 percent over the next decade, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

"The oldest Baby Boomers are turning 70 this year, and unless we find a cure, the number of people with this disease is going to explode," Cipoletti said.

To learn more about the grant, contact Cipoletti at nancy.j.cipoletti@wv.gov.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at

lydia.nuzum@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow

@lydianuzum on Twitter.

PTSD nonprofit promotes meditation for relief http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160628/GZ0115/160629595 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160628/GZ0115/160629595 Tue, 28 Jun 2016 10:07:54 -0400 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum For the millions who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, symptoms can be overwhelming, but a nonprofit that works in Africa with ties to West Virginia has helped thousands of people improve function and return to their lives.

PTSD Relief Now, the nonprofit organization that runs the African PTSD Relief Project, seeks funding for and develops strategies to help those suffering from PTSD learn coping strategies. The organization is a proponent of transcendental meditation in treating the disorder, an approach David Shapiro, a board member for PTSD Relief Now who lives in Romney, said has shown promising results for sufferers in both studies and in the field.

"With the approach we're using, there are no side effects," he said. "It's like a light switch. Once the person is able to settle down, they're not turbulent - there's nothing complex about it."

Transcendental meditation, a type of mediation first introduced in India in the 1950s, is a widely used method for anxiety relief and stress reduction, and PTSD, as an often severe anxiety disorder, can be alleviated by its regular practice, according to Shapiro.

Studies have shown improvement in those who practice meditation with PTSD - a 1981 study of Vietnam Veterans published in the scientific journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine indicated that veterans who practiced transcendental meditation improved over another group engaged only in psychotherapy.

According to Shapiro, while wartime experiences are a commonly recognized factor in PTSD, any traumatic event can trigger symptoms of the disorder, which range from irritability and hostility to self-destructive behavior and social isolation.

"Any overwhelmingly traumatic event can trigger PTSD," he said. "It could be watching a parent die or witnessing a car crash. They're even saying now that watching enough media with violent themes may cause it. It's a massive problem in South Africa. We had a school where roughly 80 percent of the girls had been sexually abused, and roughly 30 to 40 percent had PTSD. Any huge trauma can create PTSD."

More than a dozen African countries have been in war in the last several years, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Africans with PTSD, Shapiro said. African PTSD Relief estimates that in war-torn areas like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan, nearly 50 percent of the population is estimated to suffer from PTSD.

"Our organization is all over Africa," he said. "In the U.S., the David Lynch Foundation has been working in inner-city schools, and while they don't call it PTSD relief, the result is that much of the San Francisco school population is in a transcendental meditation program. Much of the Los Angeles County school system, as well ... TM is taught the same way the world over. There are more than 1 million children in 13 countries under the auspices of the Catholic Church who have signed an agreement to learn TM. Part of it is for PTSD, but the other part is the other benefits - students are less stressed, more productive and happier."

Shapiro said that although his organization primarily works in Africa, it has sister organizations in the U.S. that work to teach transcendental meditation, and he believes the technique could be an effective tool for many West Virginians who may also suffer from PTSD or anxiety, even if they're undergoing other therapies for the disorder.

"This is one tool; in many cases, it's important to work with them together," he said. "This is one thing that works along with one's life."

Reach Lydia Nuzum at

lydia.nuzum@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow

@lydianuzum on Twitter.

Amid flood cleanup, health officials urge caution http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160627/GZ0115/160629619 GZ0115 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160627/GZ0115/160629619 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 19:51:58 -0400 Daniel Desrochers By Daniel Desrochers CLAY - Tetanus shots, among the most vital items in Clay County right now, start their process on the desk of Angela Brown, a nurse who helps run the N.H. Dyer Medical Center in Clay.

From her desk, they go into needles. And from there, the vaccines go into the people in the county who have been attempting to salvage their belongings since Thursday.

Janet Osborne was first in line to receive her shot.

For the past three days, her grandson Shawn and his three friends, Brandon Workman, Kurt Lane and Bethany Walls, had been cleaning out the basement of her hand-built house.

"So many people are like 'It's over,'" Shawn Osborne said. "But it's not over yet."

After flash flooding ravaged much of West Virginia, killing 23 and displacing thousands, cleanup has begun across the state. County health departments are doing their best to help people stay safe while they clean.

In Clay County, that included getting tetanus shots to people who needed them.

One of those people was Benjamin Joel Dover. He was caked from head to toe in mud and had recently punctured his hand on a nail while cleaning out the football team's locker room at Clay County High School.

Before going back to get his shot, Dover had to go to the bathroom to rinse the mud off of his arm.

He walked out of the health center with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Band-Aid, changed his clothes and went right back to work at the high school, saving what he could from the weight room.

At the health center, Brown and Dr. Leela Patel weren't just worried about tetanus. Three people in Clay County have been hospitalized from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of running generators indoors.

Local pharmacies are filling a week's worth of prescriptions so people who need daily medication have access.

Water safety is also an issue. Clay County's water treatment plant flooded in the storm and Brown wanted to make sure people were using clean water.

"I don't want people drinking from other sources," Brown said. "We have a lot of people on well water and we don't need people drinking from contaminated well water."

As the muddy water and sewage sits in peoples homes, reactions to mold and water borne illnesses can spread easily.

"Any time there's standing water," Brown said. "That's an issue."

West Nile Virus from mosquito bites is also a concern.

"We've been getting mosquito bit," Shawn Osborne said. "We've been moving around in sewage."

Right after receiving their tetanus shots, Shawn Osborne, his three friends and grandmother headed home to resume their cleaning.

On Thursday night, the water rushed down the steps leading to the basement and built up against the door.

Shawn Osborne was inside holding the door shut and Workman had come down to help when a railroad tie broke through the window and knocked both of their legs out from under them. A couch hit Workman.

"I grabbed him," Workman said, "and said, 'we've got to go.'"

Shawn Osborne said that if Workman hadn't told him to leave, he would have stayed in the basement holding the door until he drowned.

Now, the floor of that basement was caked with mud and water. The room reeked.

The 22-year-old Osborne took control. He and his friends wore bright yellow gloves and plastic boots. They had already run out of masks.

Shawn Osborne set up two buckets and filled them with Lysol clean and fresh soap. One for washing hands, one for washing feet.

"I feel good when we're working," Shawn Osborne said. "But sometimes I come down here and it feels like we've made no progress."

They have. The yard is littered with the contents of the once meticulously organized basement. Woody, from the movie "Toy Story," looks out from a bucket of toys. Workman and Lane clear Christmas decorations out of the way so that the group has a path to carry more from the basement.

"You're worn down," Workman said, "but you don't want to stop."

Most of the items pulled from the basement will have to be thrown out.

Patel said that anything stuffed, like mattresses or the Woody doll, couldn't be salvaged.

"It's time to get rid of everything unless it's not wet," Patel said.

The items took on more water as more rain moved through the county Monday afternoon.

Shawn Osborne let out an expletive when he heard the thunder rolling and started to feel the rain.

"We need more pillow cases, we need more sandbags," he said worrying that he might see more rising water.

But the rain didn't stop the cleaning process.

With help from three volunteers from the FOLA assembly church, the crew continued moving items out of the basement and into the rain.

While Osborne and his friends were working, Workman's mother dropped off Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MRE)from the Red Cross and water.

Most of those supplies were being distributed from Clay County High School where stacks of plastic water bottles lined the front of the school.

"It's just coming," Ashley Truman said. "We don't even know where it's coming from."

People were picking up and delivering water bottles and meals to people who were cleaning their houses.

Most of those people were still without water and 918 people were without power in Clay County as of 4:46 p.m., Monday.

Janet Osborne couldn't help but survey the damage to her property. Throughout the day she had broken into tears thinking about the past days' events.

Her husband, the man who built her house, was in a nursing home in Big Otter. Shortly after the flooding, the fire department was able to get a hold of the nursing home and make sure he was safe. She had just scrubbed down her deck, hoping to make the house look nice for when he came home.

Her onions, which were her favorite, had been ruined along with her garden. She wasn't sure when the cleanup would be done or what her basement would look like once it was finished, but with each sentence, her grandson and friends moved in and out of the house, hauling out debris.

"We're strong people," Janet Osborne said. "We can make it. I've been through more than this, I'll survive."

Reach Daniel Desrochers at dan.desrochers@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4886 or follow @drdesrochers on Twitter.