www.wvgazettemail.com Health http://www.wvgazettemail.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2016, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Budget cuts could hurt public health efforts, officials say http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160120/GZ01/160129976 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160120/GZ01/160129976 Wed, 20 Jan 2016 13:27:02 -0500 Lori Kersey By Lori Kersey Local health departments around West Virginia would have to cut services if the state goes forward with a proposed 25 percent reduction to their funding.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's proposed budget for fiscal year 2017, which begins in July, contains a line-item cut of $4 million for aid to local health departments, Chad Bundy, president of the West Virginia Association of Local Health Departments, told local health officials Wednesday morning.

The current aid for health departments is $16.6 million, but that would be reduced to $12.6 in the budget that Tomblin submitted to the state Legislature. The state gives health departments a base amount and then more money based on the number of people they serve.

West Virginia faces deficits totaling $800 million in the current and upcoming budget year.

Tom Susman, a lobbyist for the state Association of Local Health Departments, said a 25 percent cut would be unprecedented. Susman said he had seen media reports of the state's budget problems and figured there would be a 4 percent to 5 percent cut to local health department aid.

"No one had any idea that it would be this size of a reduction," Susman said.

Representatives of local health departments from around the state gathered Wednesday at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department to talk about what the cuts would mean to their agencies and to discuss next steps.

Dr. Michael Brumage, health officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston and Putnam County health departments, said the cuts would mean a 10 percent, or $400,000, cut to the departments' combined budget of $4 million.

"We're hoping were going to have our budget restored at least to some level again," he said. "We were all expecting to take a budget cut - we know that the state and our county is in dire straits when it comes to resources that are coming in - but a 25 percent cut seems to me to be inordinate."

Brumage said the department is still considering what cuts would have to be made, but there are no plans to cut jobs at this point.

"We're going to have to take a hard look at our advanced health services ... the breast and cervical cancer screening that we do, family planning services. Those are the things that we would look at first and then we would have to look deeper," Brumage said.

Health departments are responsible for restaurant inspections, studying the origin of diseases in communities, monitoring diseases, and promoting health, among other responsibilities.

"Public health provides more than what people see," Brumage said. "I like to equate it to like the programs you don't see on your desktop that are important to keeping your computer running. People don't see a lot of what we do and they'll only see it if it gets cut away.

"And then it will have a severe impact and then often it's too late," Brumage said.

Julie Miller, administrator of the Boone County Health Department, said the proposed state cuts would be in addition to a slash to her department's local funds.

"In Boone County we had a reduction in our county aid of between 45 and 47 percent -that's just for this fiscal year," Miller said. "It happened, I think, in October and we don't know what it's going to be next year."

Miller said Boone County has seen a rise in tuberculosis cases, which require home visits. They also deal with disease outbreaks, restaurant inspections and health promotion.

"We're a small health department that takes a lot of work when you've got one person doing that," she said. "We need not to have a cut in our funds so that we can take care of the community."

Lee Smith, health officer for the Monongalia County Health Department, said the cuts would limit his agency's ability to offer services, the number of patients it could treat and the agency's growth.

More than that, though, the cuts would affect the health and safety of the public, he said. In recent water crisis -both in Flint, Michigan and the one two years ago in Charleston - the local health departments worked with the state to help keep people safe, he said.

"So I think that any type of budgetary reduction is going to serious impact our ability to do public safety for the people of this state," he said.

Chad Bundy, president of the West Virginia Association of Local Health Departments, is asking health departments to hold emergency meetings to determine how the budget cuts might affect them. The information will be compiled for a letter to Tomblin, asking him to reconsider the cuts.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1240 or follow @LorikerseyWV on Twitter.

]]>
Leaders of local health initiative declare stance on key issues http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160115/GZ01/160119617 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160115/GZ01/160119617 Fri, 15 Jan 2016 15:53:26 -0500 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum A group of regional public health officials has targeted three key health issues that have been points of contention in the state over the last few years in an effort to educate the public on the scientific support behind these public health policies.

Rx for West Virginia, led by Dr. Michael Brumage, health officer for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, and Dr. Michael Kilkenny, health officer for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, held a press conference on Friday to address its recommendations, or "prescriptions," for the state on three issues: vaccinating children against disease, supporting clean indoor air regulations and discouraging the consumption of raw milk and dairy products.

West Virginia has one of the highest rates of school-age vaccination in the country, and has been free of the measles outbreaks that have plagued other states in recent years. Despite this, legislators introduced a bill last year that would have allowed parents with "moral objections" to vaccines to skip the requirement for school-aged children in West Virginia. That piece of the legislation ultimately was rewritten, but Brumage said the new initiative wanted to remind citizens that vaccines are an important part of disease prevention.

"West Virginia has the best childhood immunization law in the country, and we just want to keep it that way," said Bob Whitler, vice president of government and community affairs for Charleston Area Medical Center.

Another health issue that divided the Legislature during the 2015 session was the push to legalize raw milk sales and consumption in the state. A bill to allow the consumption of non-pasteurized milk in West Virginia passed both the Senate and the House early last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 202 of the 239 hospitalizations involving tainted dairy products between 1993 and 2006 were linked to the consumption of raw milk or raw-milk cheese. More than 1,500 people were sickened by raw milk products in that time frame, according to the CDC. The CDC has also reported that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause food-borne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illnesses involving pasteurized dairy products.

Brumage said there is an overwhelming consensus among health professionals that the dangers of raw milk outweigh the benefits, and Rx for West Virginia has recommended that people only consume pasteurized dairy products.

"We know that raw milk is dangerous, and we don't recognize any added health benefit to drinking it," Brumage said.

Clean indoor air regulations, while widespread in the state, also saw challenges in the Legislature last year. Separate House and Senate Bills introduced last session would have allowed smoking in certain establishments, circumventing some of the clean indoor air regulations in places like Charleston, which bans smoking in all public facilities.

"We have excellent smoke-free ordinances in a lot of areas, and that's something we need to build on, rather than destroy," Kilkenny said. "We just hope to educate the public on these issues and keep them appraised of our stance."

Brumage said the initiative could forward other recommendations in the future, and added that the purpose of Rx for West Virginia was to educate the public on issues that have a lot of scientific consensus, rather than try to push a particular political agenda.

"I know that in the work that I do on the community level, there's a great deal of confusion about health messages," said Judy Crabtree, executive director of the Kanawha Coalition for Community Health Improvement. "You can get on the Internet and get one message, then hear on the news another message, and go to your doctor and hear another message. What I feel this initiative will do is to help is help local community members see where their local health professionals stand on these issues."

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

]]>
WV bill would bar transport payments for women having abortions http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160114/GZ01/160119679 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160114/GZ01/160119679 Thu, 14 Jan 2016 19:19:43 -0500 Eric Eyre By Eric Eyre Republican state lawmakers don't want government funds being used to provide transportation for women having abortions in West Virginia.

"I do not believe in taxpayer-funded abortions," said Delegate Larry Faircloth, R-Berkeley.

But legislation - sponsored by Faircloth and 10 other GOP members of the House of Delegates - to carry out that abortion restriction got sidetracked Thursday, after House Democrats said the bill raises constitutional questions and could violate federal patient privacy laws.

"It's a nonsense bill," said Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne.

In a split vote, the House Health and Human Resources Committee agreed Thursday to delay discussions on the bill (HB 2468) until next week.

"I'm a sponsor of the bill, but I did see some problems I think need to be resolved, otherwise, it could create court issues later," said Faircloth, who intends to run for state treasurer in the Republican primary.

The legislation would essentially prohibit Medicaid dollars from being used to transport low-income women who schedule or have an abortion.

House Democrats cited a 1993 West Virginia Supreme Court decision that authorizes the state to use Medicaid dollars to pay for abortions for poor women.

"We have to remain neutral when we provide medical care to the poor," said Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio. "So we have constitutional issues with this bill."

The health committee has asked the Department of Health and Human Resources to determine how much the state's Medicaid program pays annually to shuttle women having abortions. But DHHR has told lawmakers it has no way to track those expenses.

DHHR contracts with a transportation service that arranges rides for Medicaid recipients, but drivers don't ask patients to disclose information about specific medical procedures.

That likely would have to change, if the House bill passes.

"We would have to ask all of our [Medicaid] members if they were calling to arrange transportation for an abortion," said Cindy Beane, acting commissioner at DHHR's Bureau for Children and Families.

Health committee members said they would support an exemption that would allow women who were victims of rape and incest to be reimbursed for abortion transportation services.

"I do not believe we should punish a woman for bad things that happen to her," Faircloth said.

Also Wednesday, the health committee advanced legislation (HB 2026) that would allow terminally ill patients to receive experimental drugs not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"These are going to be extraordinarily difficult cases where all other treatment options have been exhausted," said Delegate Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell, a Huntington doctor.

That bill next moves to the House Judiciary Committee.

Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4869 or follow @ericeyre on Twitter.

]]>
Board of Medicine revokes Martinsburg doctor's license as part of agreement http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160114/GZ01/160119690 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160114/GZ01/160119690 Thu, 14 Jan 2016 17:00:08 -0500 By Lydia Nuzum

Staff writer

A Martinsburg doctor accused of illegal drug activity had her license revoked by West Virginia Board of Medicine earlier this week.

Dr. Tressie Montene Duffy, who operated West Virginia Weight and Wellness Inc. in Martinsburg, was convicted on federal drug distribution charges in December, pleading guilty to seven counts of aiding and abetting the distribution of oxycodone, a highly addictive Schedule II drug used to treat pain.

Duffy signed blank prescription orders and allowed unlicensed members of her staff to issue prescriptions for narcotics to patients despite the fact that they weren't seen by a physician, U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld said in December.

As a result of pleading guilty, Duffy faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million on each of the seven counts. Duffy agreed, as part of the plea agreement, to relinquish her medical license and to never reapply for a medical license or certificate in West Virginia or any other state. The board took official action to revoke Duffy's license during its bi-monthly meeting Monday.

The board did not take action on another doctor accused of misconduct, however.

Charleston neurologist Dr. Iraj Derakhshan underwent weeks of scrutiny by the board late last year after an investigation found he wrote more than 14,000 original or refill prescriptions for controlled substances from July 1, 2013 to Feb. 12, 2014. The state also examined the records of 10 of Derakhshan's patients and found the doctor had significantly escalated each patient's dosage over time.

Board of Medicine executive director Robert Knittle said Derakhshan wasn't on the board's January agenda because the board is still awaiting the findings and recommendations from the hearing examiner.

"There's really nothing to report at this point," Knittle said. "The hearing is concluded, and the attorneys on either side have submitted their briefs to the hearing examiner, and now he will review everything and present his findings and recommendations to the board ... the board will review it with separate counsel and make a final determination."

Knittle said there was no timeline for when Derakhshan's final determination will be made, but said it will be "timely."

]]>
Stakeholders praise ACA gains two weeks from enrollment deadline http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160112/GZ01/160119815 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160112/GZ01/160119815 Tue, 12 Jan 2016 21:11:00 -0500 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum Marcia Meeks fields dozens of calls every day from people trying to enroll in health insurance. But when one woman called about her dying husband, Meeks saw firsthand the tragedy a lack of health coverage can bring.

In November, the woman called for her husband, who had not enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan when he had first become disabled, and who had been diagnosed with cancer. "I knew I couldn't help her right then - I could sign him up for coverage starting Jan. 1, but I started asking if he might qualify for extra help," Meeks said. "I took their income - no, they were over. I asked if there was anyone else living in the house, and she said she had sons, so that put them in range. I filled out her application, never promising her anything, but giving her a little bit of hope."

Meeks checked every other day to see whether the application had been approved. The woman called again to tell Meeks that her husband had received two pain medication prescriptions they couldn't afford to fill, and so she checked again, but the application had yet to be approved. Later the same night, Meeks said something told her to check the application again, and she found that it had been approved. The family got two prescriptions valued at more than $180 for less than $7.

"She called me back and said, 'If I had found you four or five months ago, I really think he wouldn't be dying,'" Meeks said.

The same woman called Meeks again last Friday to tell her that her husband had died.

"I though to myself, 'I wasn't able to help him for very long, but at least I helped him get that pain medication,'" she said.

Meeks, director of the West Virginia State Health Insurance Assistance Program and the Senior Medicare Patrol Program, deals primarily with Medicare recipients, but her office also has an in-person assister trained to help people enroll in expanded Medicaid and individual coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

She was one of nearly 100 health insurance navigators gathered in Charleston Tuesday to celebrate the more than 200,000 West Virginians who have gained insurance coverage since 2013 under the ACA. The event fell 18 days ahead of the deadline for 2016 ACA health insurance enrollment on Jan. 31.

This is the third year of ACA open enrollment. According to West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, the organization that coordinated the event, more than 34,450 West Virginians have newly enrolled or re-enrolled for individual insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace, and more than 165,000 have enrolled in expanded Medicaid. West Virginia has seen a huge drop in the rate of uninsured, from 14 percent in 2013 to 8.6 percent in 2014.

"We know that in those last couple of weeks everyone will be coming out, and I think it's important to remind people of the penalty," said Joanne Grossi, regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This year, the tax penalty for forgoing health insurance is 2.5 percent of a person's income or $695 per adult, whichever is higher.

According to Scott Streator, vice president of CareSource, an Ohio-based nonprofit managed care organization that now operates in 10 West Virginia counties, a market study the company conducted before entering the state revealed that while only 9 percent of West Virginians characterize their health as "excellent," a full two-thirds believe it could be improved, and most cited health-care affordability as the second-most important barrier to wellness behind lack of exercise.

To counteract that, CareSource is offering $0 copays on generic drugs for its silver plans, as well as $0 copays for primary care visits, with no limit on how many primary care visits a consumer can have in a given year, Streator said. CareSource is offered to residents in Brooke, Cabell, Hancock, Kanawha, Lincoln, Marshall, Mason, Ohio, Putnam and Wayne counties.

For Colleen Anderson, health coverage has been her single biggest expense in her 40-year career as a self-employed graphic designer and writer who was diagnosed with high blood pressure early in her career.

"I never had to use it; I'm very, very lucky, because I don't know where that $10,000 or sometimes $20,000 deductible would have come from, but it was a constant source of stress for me," she said. "Then, two years ago, I got affordable health care, and for the first time in my working life, I could afford it, and it was good insurance. I actually had a copay for the first time in my life."

Many federally-qualified health centers, hospitals and state agencies offer in-person assisters trained to help people navigate the health insurance marketplace and select a plan. West Virginia NaviCare has several enrollment events scheduled across the state, including on Thursday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Summersville Regional Medical Center, Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Davis Medical Center in Elkins, and on Tuesday from noon to 7 p.m. at the Bridgeport Conference Center in Bridgeport. More events will be held on Jan. 20 from noon to 7 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Morgantown, Jan. 21 from noon to 7 p.m. at West Virginia Northern Community College in Wheeling, Jan. 25 and Jan.26 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Wood County Courthouse in Parkersburg, Jan. 29 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Disability Action in Fairmont, and on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Raleigh County Convention Center in Beckley.

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

]]>
Recovery Point of Charleston dedicates Stockton Street building http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160112/GZ01/160119835 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160112/GZ01/160119835 Tue, 12 Jan 2016 17:46:42 -0500 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum As Princess Young stood inside the vast concrete warehouse at 501 Stockton St. on Charleston's West Side, she cried at the thought of what the building's future could mean for people like her daughter, who has been in recovery for more than a year in a facility in Kentucky.

"I don't think any parent should have such difficulty finding help for their child," she said. "No mother should ever have to get behind the wheel of a vehicle with a jonesing child in the passenger seat to embark on an eight-hour trip just to seek treatment. I will never forget that drive - it was just the two of us, and we had to keep stopping, because she was so sick. I was driving as quickly and safely as I possibly could, and then out of nowhere and with absolute clarity, my daughter reached over and touched my hand and said, 'Mom, thank you for not giving up on me.' I ask you - what mother would?"

For Young's daughter, Lindsay, help finally came after weeks of fruitless searching for treatment in her home state of West Virginia. Now, Young said she hopes that other women in the Kanawha Valley won't have to leave their families to seek treatment, thanks in part to the planned Recovery Point of Charleston, which dedicated its building on the West Side Tuesday and will begin construction in the coming months.

"It's incredible that we have come this far," said Charleston Mayor Danny Jones. "This is a great day for Charleston ... this will touch a lot of people's lives in a very positive way."

Lindsay's problem started her junior year of college, Young said. Her daughter had become addicted to opiates, and despite coming home to St. Albans, she could not stop using. Lindsay was arrested in early 2014, but it was several more months before she finally admitted she needed treatment. But for Young, who has worked in mental health services for years, the level of treatment Lindsay needed was hard to come by in West Virginia - after two weeks of fruitless searching, a friend pointed her to Liberty Place Recovery Center for Women in Kentucky, the facility Recovery Point of Huntington and Charleston are modeled after.

"I thought I knew how the system was supposed to work. How could this be happening in my home state? How? Finally, help came by accident, by an absolute chance encounter with an old friend," she said. "I believe so much in what Recovery Point has to offer, because they're bringing hope to addicts, to their families and this community."

Rachel Thaxton, program coordinator of Recovery Point of Charleston, said the facility will start the bidding process on the project within the next month, and will likely begin construction within six weeks after the bids close. The main building will have 92 treatment beds, which will be opened about 10 beds at a time initially, and Thaxton said the facility will also construct 24 transitional apartments on the property that will house up to 48 more women.

According to Recovery Point of Huntington, the parent facility for the women's center in Charleston, its treatment costs are $25 per person per day, compared to an average $250 per day for those in a traditional treatment facility, or $50 per day in a regional jail. Its outcomes are also better, said Matt Boggs, executive director for Recovery Point of Huntington. Boggs said 68 percent of those who graduate from the program remain sober for a year, and of those, 85 percent stay sober for more than two years. Half of graduates also report earned incomes of more than $2,000 per month after completing the program, and many say their family relationships and living situations have improved dramatically after completing the treatment program.

To date, Recovery Point of Charleston has raised 71 percent of the total cost of the project - about $4.7 million of a $6.6 million total, Boggs said.

Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Bailey, who runs the county's drug court program, said long-term programs like drug court and Recovery Point are integral tools for rehabilitating addicts, and she hopes the Charleston facility and others like it will become a greater priority in order to avoid the alternatives - often jail, or homeless shelters where women are surrounded by active addicts in often sub-par living conditions.

"Unfortunately, jail is a place I send people to keep them alive, because they're relapsing; it's not a good use of their time or our tax dollars, but I have no other alternatives," Bailey said. "I can't sleep at night knowing I'm telling women 'this is what you need to do to recover,' that they must go live in a poverty-level, dilapidated housing situation, and try to do better there. That's all we can offer you? I can't sleep at night knowing that what I told them to do - leave jail and enter a homeless shelter, those are our options."

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

]]>
Loads of sugar finds way into even healthy kids' diets http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160111/GZ05/160119872 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160111/GZ05/160119872 Mon, 11 Jan 2016 20:57:36 -0500 By Aviva Goldfarb Special to the Washington Post By By Aviva Goldfarb Special to the Washington Post In a typical week, my teenagers might eat edamame straight out of the pods, roasted seaweed, whole grain pasta, homemade granola, frozen mango right out of the bag and fruit and vegetable smoothies made with kefir, chia seeds, kale, carrots and pineapple.

I was shocked to realize that they were also eating potentially toxic levels of sugar in the course of the day, well above recommendations from health experts like the American Heart Association.

Even if we think our kids are relatively healthy eaters, there's a good chance they are eating far too much added sugar from foods even healthy kids typically consume. Foods like fruit-flavored yogurts, sports drinks, pasta sauce, cereal, ketchup, energy bars and barbecue sauce are all loaded with added sugar.

The American Heart Association recommends that children consume no more than 12 grams, or 3 teaspoons, of added sugar per day. While a wonderful goal, it is very difficult to achieve for children whose regular daily diet includes any packaged or processed foods.

To find out how quickly those grams add up, I calculated how many grams of sugar are in the foods that my kids and the children of some of my health conscious friends might eat or drink in a day. (I did not pick the products with the highest amount of sugar; rather I picked a random sample of foods many parents may think of as healthy - or at least not as unhealthy):

n Yogurt: 8 oz. Yoplait Strawberry Greek yogurt = 11 to 12 grams added sugar, 18 grams total sugar* (these can easily go up to 18 grams of added sugar, depending on the brand).

n Cereal: 1 cup Cinnamon Life Cereal = 10 grams total sugar (most or all is likely added sugar, but no information is available).

n Frozen waffles: 2 Trader Joe's Multigrain Toaster Waffles = 7 grams added sugar.

n Ketchup: 2 Tbsp. Heinz Ketchup = 4 grams added sugar, 8 grams total sugar.

n Pasta sauce: 1/2 cup of Barilla Traditional Pasta Sauce = 8 grams added sugar.

n Chocolate milk: 8 oz. chocolate milk = 13 grams added sugar, 26 grams total sugar.

n Jam: 2 Tbsp. Stonewall Kitchen Strawberry Jam = 6 grams added sugar, 14 grams total sugar.

n Cereal bars: Special K Red Berries Cereal Bar = 8 grams added sugar (granola and cereal bars can easily go up to 11 grams or more).

n Sports drinks: 12 oz. Powerade Sports Drink + B-Vitamins, Grape = 21 grams added sugar.

Many foods like fruit and yogurt have naturally occurring sugars, which many nutrition experts differentiate from added sugars. FDA labels may soon reflect amounts of both added and naturally occurring sugars.

If your child has a container of fruit flavored yogurt or a bowl of cereal in the morning for breakfast (as ours often do), she is likely to meet or exceed her daily sugar recommendation by the time she walks out the door to catch the school bus. I asked my 16-year-old daughter to record her diet on a recent day, and although her diet sounded very healthy and included plenty of fruits and vegetables, she had likely consumed 36 grams of sugar, or 3 times the recommended amount! If using adult guidelines for her, she still would have had 1 1/2 times the recommended limit, and that's with no desserts (or at least none she reported to me).

For kids whose diets typically include cookies, candy and soda (a 12 ounce soda has 30 to 40 grams of added sugar), their sugar intake can easily be quadruple the recommended levels or worse.

Eating too much sugar can not only lead to obesity but also to metabolic disease and early onset of diabetes and heart disease as well as general inflammation that may lead to other diseases like cancer. A recent study found that after just nine days without added sugar, even though their diets still were full of non-sugary junk food like chips and hot dogs, metabolic health improved drastically in overweight kids, and their appetite decreased.

"Developing a healthy diet is critical while still in childhood as lifestyle changes become increasingly difficult to adopt with age, and adolescents are often resistant to these changes. Unfortunately, once a child has developed Type 2 Diabetes, studies have shown that most of the currently approved treatment regimens are not particularly effective in children. As the number of children with Type 2 Diabetes increases, one can expect the disorder to multiply exponentially in future generations. This is due to a biologic process known as metabolic imprinting, where the children of mothers who have obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and high blood pressure during pregnancy are more likely to also develop these conditions," according to Bethesda, Maryland-based pediatric endocrinologist, Rachel Gafni, M.D.

What's more, sugar is addictive, so if we are used to eating sugar, as most of us are, our brains crave more and more. The only way I've found to combat this in our family is by removing added sugar completely from our diets for three to seven days to lose our cravings, and that's not easy to do. The kids often start enthusiastically and lose their interest within less than a day.

Last year I served as a member of the media advisory board for "Fed Up!," a movie that links the epidemic of obesity and early onset of disease in the U.S. to our high consumption of sugar. The film's producers, including Katie Couric and Laurie David, found that sugar is in 80 percent of the products on supermarket shelves, and not just in the candy and desserts where we would expect to find it, but in bread, pasta sauce, marinades and salad dressings.

This awareness has lead me to make changes in how I shop (like reading labels more carefully and choosing products without added sugar) and how I cook, and to educate and try to inspire better choices for our children.

By buying and demanding lower sugar products, and supporting the FDA's proposed new rules to separate added sugars from naturally occurring sugars on nutrition labels, we concerned parents can put consumer pressure on food manufacturers to reduce the amount of added sugar in foods they produce, which some are already doing based on consumer demand. Along with changing our own purchasing and consumption habits, doing so is one of the best routes to consuming less sugar in our daily lives, losing our sugar cravings, and reducing the epidemic of lifestyle and weight related diseases, especially diabetes and heart disease, that are afflicting so many children at earlier and earlier ages.

Even for someone whose profession and passion is healthy eating, reducing sugar in my own family's diet is a major challenge, and I understand all too well the power of sugar cravings. (More than once, my family has walked in to find me lolling in a sugar-induced daze on the couch, with empty marshmallow bags and Nutella-stained spoons strewn around me.)

I can only imagine how hard it is for families with more typical American diets to combat the power of sugar-laden foods. I hope that as more kids see films like "Fed Up!," and "That Sugar Film," and as we make gradual reductions of sugar in their diets, their dietary choices when they are out of the house will also include foods with less added sugar.

Aviva Goldfarb is the author of "The Six O'Clock Scramble Meal Planner," a healthy meal planning cookbook published by the American Diabetes Association, her fourth cookbook, coming out in February. She is the mother of two and founder of the family meal planner, The Six O'Clock Scramble. She tweets @thescramble.

]]>
Mayo Clinic's diet goes beyond annual resolutions http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160111/GZ05/160119873 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160111/GZ05/160119873 Mon, 11 Jan 2016 20:57:03 -0500 Mayo Clinic News Network By Mayo Clinic News Network ROCHESTER, Minn. - Turning the calendar to a new year often finds people working on their commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

When it comes to losing weight, experts advise taking a longer view, beyond a New Year's resolution.

"Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is best accomplished through a lifestyle approach," says Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program and medical editor-in-chief of the Mayo Clinic Diet. "You should follow a dietary pattern that is practical. If it's too restrictive, it's impossible to sustain."

Recently, the Mayo Clinic Diet was named No. 1 in the Commercial Diet category by U.S. News & World Report. The Mayo Clinic Diet offers a weight-loss and lifestyle program that's based on research and clinical experience. An online program also gives access to meal plans, recipes and interactive tools like an iOS app for Apple operating systems, and fitness plans and exercises.

The two-phase program offers a two-week jump-start to weight loss and a lifelong approach to diet and health. The dietary plan is built around health-supporting vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats, such as nuts and olive oil. There's no calorie counting. Instead, the diet focuses on generous amounts of vegetables and fruits and healthy choices in other food groups. No foods are excluded. Portions of higher-calorie foods are limited. Physical activity of at least 30 minutes most days also is emphasized to highlight overall health - not just weight.

People with health conditions are encouraged to talk with their doctor before starting any diet or exercise plan.

"When you make even small changes in your diet and exercise habits, you decrease your health risks from many conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and sleep apnea," Hensrud says. "That's a gift to you and your family all year-round."

]]>
Ambulance authority looks to increase CPR training in 2016 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160111/GZ05/160119875 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160111/GZ05/160119875 Mon, 11 Jan 2016 20:55:47 -0500 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum With a new year comes new resolutions, and one Kanawha County agency hopes to convince residents to make one goal in 2016 that could save someone's life.

In an effort to increase the number of citizens trained in CPR, the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority will double the number of CPR trainings it offers. Starting this month, the ambulance authority will hold trainings twice monthly that are open to the public, according to Mike Jarrett, chaplain and safety officer for the KCEAA.

"Our goal is everybody - we know that's not attainable, but we'd like to see more of our public trained in CPR," Jarrett said. "The training also handles some basic first aid, such as choking, and I think it inspires people to go further, like taking a first aid course, or even considering working in emergency services."

For those in cardiac distress, receiving timely CPR can mean the difference between life and death, Jarrett said. A person's chances of receiving CPR immediately, however, are a little over 30 percent, due in part to the number of civilians who are trained in administering it, Jarrett said.

"Your brain starts to lose vital cell function four to six minutes without oxygen," he said. "Oxygen isn't going to get there if the blood isn't being circulated."

Nationally, about 12 million people are trained in CPR, according to the American Heart Association, which has set a 2020 goal of having 20 million people trained to perform it. Cynthia Keely, mission life director for the American Heart Association in West Virginia, said the AHA also hopes to increase the likelihood of someone initiating CPR from 31 percent to 62 percent.

"This is so important, because your chance of survival outside a hospital is very low, so the more laypeople who learn it, the better," she said. "Currently, only about 8 percent of the people receiving CPR outside the hospital survive, so we want to increase that, and that all goes back to getting people formally trained."

While Keely said it's best to take an official CPR class, she added that receiving any training in CPR could be helpful in aiding someone during a cardiac episode. The AHA and the Red Cross have phone applications that teach CPR, and emergency responders are often able to explain the process by phone until help can arrive.

The Kanawha ambulance authority teaches multiple types of CPR, according to Jarrett, who stressed that the hands-portion of the technique is more important than the breathing, as the patient's blood is likely still oxygenated. The AHA has been recommending hands-only CPR since 2008, and recommends more than 100 chest compressions per minute that are at least two inches deep - a difficult pace for many people to maintain for more than a few minutes, and another reason the AHA wants to see more people trained.

"You'll work up quite a sweat doing 100 compressions in a minute," she said. "Doing high-quality CPR and having people there to relieve you, and having quick access to an automatic electronic defibrillator - those components, and having quick emergency response, are paramount for survival."

For Keely, who has successfully helped someone with CPR in the past, the technique is one of the best things a person can learn.

"My thought is, it's like any other training you can have, but with this one, you can possibly save a life," she said.

To learn more about CPR certification and training, call the KCEAA at 304-345-2312 or visit www.heart.org/cpr.

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

]]>
Cutting out sugar? Start with drinks and read labels, experts say http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160111/GZ05/160119876 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160111/GZ05/160119876 Mon, 11 Jan 2016 20:55:28 -0500 Lori Kersey By Lori Kersey If your New Year's Resolution is to cut out sugar, you're probably not alone.

"Sugar detox" has become something of a buzzword in the dieting world.

But is it fair to compare sugar to drugs? They do have similarities, according to an area physician.

"Sugar is an addiction because it stimulates the pleasure center in the brain, the same as drugs simulate," said Dr. Jamie Jeffrey, a pediatrician at Charleston Area Medical Center and the director of the KEYS4HealthyKids initiative.

"[Sugar] stimulates the same area of the brain as cocaine does and releases dopamine, which is a reward chemical, causing a dopamine rush and leads to cravings," Jeffrey said.

In the first few days, people who stop using sugar may start to feel shaky and tired, Jeffrey said.

"The biggest thing I've heard from patients is the cravings," Jeffrey said. "They want it, they want it, they want it."

She suggests replacing sugars, or simple carbohydrates, with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

"So you still get the sweetness from an apple but with the fiber with that slows digestion," Jeffrey said.

Jennifer Hillenbrand, a registered dietitian at Saint Francis Hospital, recommends that people limit added sugars in their foods. Those include sodas, cakes, cookies and the like. People should read food labels, she said. Some words to look out for include high-fructose corn syrup and any other syrup and fruit juice concentrate, she said. Anything on the label that ends in "ose" is a sugar, but not all sugars are bad. For instance, lactose, a sugar found in milk, isn't bad.

Besides dealing with cravings, people detoxing from sugar will also have to break old habits. For instance, if they typically have a soda while they sit at their computer, it will take some time for them to get used to not having it, she said.

People will start to feel better in about 10 to 14 days of cutting out sugar, Jeffrey said.

And the less you eat sugar, the less your body craves it, Hillenbrand said.

"The body gets used to all this sugar and it wants it more," she said. "When you cut back, you don't want it as much."

Reducing sugar "long-term leads to weight maintenance, and decreased risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer," Jeffrey said.

As with smokers who decide to quit, people who cut out sugar have to decide whether they want to stop "cold turkey" or slowly wean themselves off it. Jeffrey doesn't encourage cold-turkey sugar detoxes because it wouldn't be appropriate for her young patients. Also because she doesn't want to make sugar the "bad guy," she said. Sugar is blamed for many health and nutrition problems these days, but before sugar, people blamed fat.

"When we decided the fat was the bad guy ... we took out the fat and replaced it with three times more sugar," Jeffrey said.

Instead, Jeffrey recommends decreasing sugar slowly.

To start with, eat your calories and sugar, she said - don't drink them.

"Sugar content in drinks is usually higher and without protein and fiber (in foods we eat) that slows down the absorption of the sugar," she said. "Drinking sugar leads to higher and quicker level of sugar in the bloodstream."

Having too much sugar, Jeffery said, can cause the body to produce too much insulin, which is what happens when we experience a "sugar crash."

She compared to a car's gas tank: if a gas tank holds 20 gallons, but you put 30 gallons in, it's going to overflow. So too, a body's muscles can only handle so much insulin.

"The overflow amount gets stored as fat," Jeffrey said.

According to new guidelines released Thursday, the federal government recommends limiting having less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars, or about 200 calories.

Jeffrey also recommends replacing simple carbs like white foods such as bread, pasta, potato, and rice with whole grain foods.

And finally, eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables at meal times each day, she said.

"They are high in nutritional density and fiber at a low calorie cost," Jeffrey said.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1240 or follow @Lorikerseywv on Twitter.

]]>
Huntington woman to sit with Michelle Obama at State of the Union http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160110/GZ01/160119969 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160110/GZ01/160119969 Sun, 10 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 David Gutman By David Gutman A Huntington woman whose son is in a West Virginia state prison getting treatment for opioid abuse will attend the State of the Union address in Washington, as a guest of President Barack Obama.

Cary Dixon, who spoke at the opioid abuse forum that Obama hosted in Charleston in October, will sit with first lady Michelle Obama as the president delivers his final State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Dixon's son is in a residential substance abuse treatment program in a state prison, where he is serving time for drug-related crimes. He is eligible for parole in September.

Sitting in the president's box at the State of the Union is a very select honor, and guests are almost always mentioned in the president's speech.

The guests, the White House wrote last year, "exemplify the themes and ideals that the president lays out in his address."

Last year there were only four guests in Obama's box, all of whom were mentioned in the speech. Obama had eight guests in 2014, the most any president has had going back to Reagan.

This year's guests, the White House said, personify the president's time in office and represent compassion, innovation and courage.

Obama came to West Virginia, the state that leads the country in drug overdose deaths, to discuss the opioid crisis.

At the forum in Charleston, Dixon told the president about how her son's addiction had affected her entire family.

She talked about shock at hearing of a first DUI, fear at a first trip to jail and embarrassment when family from out of town can't interact with a loved one under the influence of drugs.

"We dread the next phone call, we can't sleep because we haven't received a phone call," she said. "We're relieved when our loved ones acknowledge that they have a serious problem and understand that they need help. And then we're devastated when we help them seek treatment only to find out that there is a month-long waiting list, or that there's no insurance coverage, or that there's a big requirement for money up front for treatment."

A visibly moved Obama told Dixon that her thoughts reminded him of his own daughters and gave her a hug after the event.

"It's like having your heart walking around outside your body," he said of parenting. "All you care about is making sure they're OK, but they're so vulnerable."

On Friday, Dixon said that she was honored and humbled to be invited to the Capitol for the once-a-year speech.

She said she was hoping to focus not on her personal story, but on addiction in general.

"As a community and as a nation we haven't known what to do with this disease," she said. "Addiction is a disease, people don't want to become addicted to drugs. These are real people, they're not bad people, they are sick people."

She said she was grateful for the national attention focused on the issue.

When Obama was in Charleston he announced new steps intended both to help stem the flow of prescription painkillers and to make it easier for people fighting addiction to find treatment.

Those steps included asking federal agencies to provide training on properly prescribing opioids to doctors who work for the federal government and asking agencies to review their health insurance plans to ensure there are no barriers to addiction treatment.

The White House also frequently points out that the Affordable Care Act requires insurance plans to cover substance-abuse treatment. But just because treatment is required to be covered does not mean it is available.

"We need funding, we need resources for treatment," Dixon said on Friday. "We need resources for prevention."

Reach David Gutman at david.gutman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5119 or follow @davidlgutman on Twitter.

]]>
Healthy faith network takes on obesity epidemic http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160108/GZ05/160109579 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160108/GZ05/160109579 Fri, 8 Jan 2016 21:43:02 -0500 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum A new faith-based network is gearing up to tackle one of the Mountain State's most pressing health issues, and to spread a message familiar to many - "the body is a temple."

The West Virginia Healthy Bodies, Healthy Spirits Network, a collaborative network of churches from across the state, has partnered with Try This! West Virginia, a collaborative effort among West Virginia communities and agencies to combat the state's obesity epidemic. The "healthy faith network" began in October, after more than 100 people from 15 denominations signed on to participate in the network's day-long launch event at West Virginia Wesleyan College, and on Thursday, a steering committee gathered in Charleston to discuss the group's goals and mission.

"The great thing is the collaboration; you sit around the table with people who have different ideas or different perspectives, and you say, 'oh, I could use that,'" said Lynn Keener, an ordained pastor with the Church of the Nazarene and a faith-based liaison for Hospice in 12 counties. "Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are something God inhabits - therefore, we need to take care of these bodies to serve the god we serve more effectively."

The steering committee represents nine denominations and nine West Virginia counties. According to Keener, the group hopes to expand its reach and presence in the state in the coming months - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has proclaimed March "Health Bodies, Healthy Spirits" Month, and the network will visit the Capitol to connect with those interested in incorporating the healthy living projects promoted by Try This! and the faith network in their churches and communities.

LeeAnn Shreve, the eastern region coordinator for Our Children, Our Future, said she has already developed a plan to further the network by visiting two ministerial associations each month in the counties she works in.

"I'll be meeting with 15 or more ministers, pastors and church leaders at once and presenting them with information and asking them to join our network," she said. "From that, if they want me to come and do an individual presentation at their church, I can."

Jenny Anderson, an Americorps VISTA volunteer with Try This!, said she had incorporated her faith into her own wellness journey, and wanted to see that connection furthered through the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Spirits Network, especially as it relates to youth in the state.

"You can't always reach the kids in school, but the churches are another outlet to reach youth and their families," Anderson said. "That's what's driving me - getting the youth involved and the community gathered together to get healthy."

For Keener, her status as a pastor and her work through Hospice have given her perspective on the preventable diseases that plague many West Virginians, and she hopes the network will do more to provide them with the resources they need to make better choices.

"I see patients younger than I am who pass away from illnesses that are preventable and it's just heartbreaking," she said. "These are wonderful people who either made poor choices or didn't know they could make better choices, and often, it was that they couldn't make better choices - they couldn't see a better way forward."

The network will have a booth at Kids and Families Day, to be held at the Capitol on Jan. 28. Churches or individuals interested in joining the network can contact Keener at lkeener@hospicecarecorp.org or Try This! coordinator Joshua Sowards at Joshua@ourfuturewv.org.

For more information on the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Spirits Network, visit www.wvhealthyfaith.com. Try This! also has a website, www.trythiswv.com, where users can find more than 100 how-to's on healthy cooking, starting exercise programs and generating funding for community projects.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at

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

@lydianuzum on Twitter.

]]>
Needle exchange leaders cheer relaxed federal funding ban http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160108/GZ01/160109608 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160108/GZ01/160109608 Fri, 8 Jan 2016 15:22:50 -0500 By Rick Callahan Associated Press By By Rick Callahan Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Advocates are praising Congress' recent softening of a longtime ban on federal dollars going to needle exchanges amid growing intravenous drug abuse that's spreading hepatitis and HIV in many states.

The new rules, which were in the spending bill signed last month by President Barack Obama, say that federal money still can't go to buying clean needles but can be used for other program costs in communities deemed "at risk" for significant increases in hepatitis C or an HIV outbreak.

Advocates say exchanges, which provide IV drug users with clean needles and collect used ones to reduce needle-sharing that spreads diseases among users, also help get some users into drug-treatment programs.

The change is significant, because it was backed by several Republicans who previously opposed federal funding. U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican who heads the House Appropriations Committee, spearheaded the change because he and others realized something needed to be done to address the growing outbreaks and mounting medical costs, Rogers' spokeswoman Danielle Smoot said.

"We can't ignore the growing crisis. It's happening and we've got to make changes, and hopefully this will help save lives," she said.

Rogers' state is experiencing hepatitis C outbreaks and has the nation's highest rate of acute hepatitis C. To the north of Kentucky's biggest city, Louisville, southeast Indiana saw a record HIV outbreak fueled largely by people abusing a prescription painkiller.

There were about 200 needle-exchange programs in place in 33 U.S. states in 2014, according to The Foundation for AIDS Research.

The softened federal ban should help many of those exchanges pay employees' salaries, purchase vans to deliver clean needles to users and rent office space, said Daniel Raymond, policy director for the New York-based Harm Reduction Coalition, which provides training and technical assistance for needle exchanges across the nation.

"It's definitely a victory and I think it's a workable compromise," he said.

While the change will eventually bring millions of federal dollars into the needle exchanges, the exact amount and the number of programs won't be known for a year or more, said William McColl, director of health policy with the Washington-based advocacy group AIDS United.

The move is especially important for cash-strapped rural areas of states like Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Ohio - all of which are dealing with outbreaks tied to heroin addiction and abuse of other opioids.

"They're the ones who have been struggling and the federal ban has been a huge barrier," Raymond said.

Four Appalachian states - Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia - saw the rate of hepatitis C more than tripled between 2006 and 2012, the Centers for Disease Control said in a report released last year, and researchers have warned an HIV epidemic would likely follow if nothing is done.

That type of epidemic came to rural southeastern Indiana, where more than 180 people have tested positive for HIV. Nearly all of those cases have been in Scott County about 30 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky, in an outbreak driven largely by needle-sharing among people injecting a liquefied form of the prescription painkiller Opana.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a conservative Republican who had long opposed needle exchanges as part of drug-control efforts, signed a new law last spring that gave Indiana's health commissioner authority to approve local needle exchange programs.

To date, exchanges have been approved for four Indiana counties. More than 20 other Indiana counties are planning to seek state approval for exchanges of their own and Congress' move could give some of Indiana's exchanges a boost, said Beth Meyerson, co-director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention at Indiana University.

"For us in Indiana, and likely everywhere else, this is huge news because it allows our programs to apply for funding once it becomes available," she said.

In Kentucky, the Legislature passed a law last year that allowed local communities to set up needle exchange programs, but only the state's two largest cities, Louisville and Lexington, have so far.

Smaller counties in eastern Kentucky, which has been devastated by prescription drug abuse, have hesitated because of funding barriers and moral objections; conservatives have long believed that needle exchanges enable drug abuse.

Russ Read, founder of the Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition, hopes Congress' shift might send a message to local politicians and health officials.

"There's just so much fear in some of these counties," he said. "Now that the feds are on board, I think that'll maybe loosen up the purse strings, and loosen up the attitudes."

]]>
Beckley doctor admits to fraud, illegal prescription charges http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160107/GZ01/160109647 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160107/GZ01/160109647 Thu, 7 Jan 2016 17:06:44 -0500 Kate White By Kate White A Beckley-based nephrologist admitted in federal court on Thursday that he would still prescribe hydrocodone to his patients after they had tested positive for illegal drugs and medications they were not prescribed.

Dr. Jose Jorge Abbud Gordinho, 67, pleaded guilty in federal court in Beckley to health care fraud and distributing hydrocodone for illegitimate purposes. He agreed to forever surrender his Drug Enforcement Administration Certificate, which is required to prescribe medication.

The deal Gordinho reached with federal prosecutors drops 20 other counts of illegitimate distribution he was facing and makes him eligible for a maximum 10-year prison sentence. The deal is binding, meaning if U.S. District Court Judge Irene Berger doesn't accept it, he can withdraw his guilty plea. Without the deal, the doctor faces a maximum 30-year prison sentence.

Berger will sentence Gordinho on April 27.

The deal doesn't limit the amount of the fine Berger can sentence Gordinho to pay or the amount of restitution he is ordered to pay.

Gordinho owned and operated Responsible Pain & Aesthetic Management on George Street in Beckley.

The doctor "was aware of the high risk of abuse" of the medications he prescribed, his plea deal states.

Gordinho required patients to sign a "pain management contract" in which patients agreed to drug screenings. If illegal drugs or medications that weren't prescribed were found in a patient's system, they were to be automatically discharged, according to the contract. Pain treatment patients were therefore required to submit urine samples each time before seeing Gordinho.

On Oct. 2, a long-time patient was seen and prescribed hydrocodone by Gordinho - despite the fact that on that date the patient had failed at least 16 prior drug screens, Gordinho's plea agreement states.

Other patients, mentioned in the charges against Gordinho, had been prescribed medication despite failing 10 or more drug screens, according to the agreement the doctor signed.

Gordinho, the deal states, "admits that each of these patients should have been discharged from his practice, and because they were not, the relevant prescriptions written for Schedule II controlled substances between January and October, 2015, were not for legitimate medical purposes in the usual course of professional medical practice and were beyond the bounds of medical practice."

Gordinho also defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by obtaining reimbursement for services that were not medically necessary, he admitted Thursday. The plea deal was signed by Gordinho, Mike Hissam, who is one of the attorneys representing Gordinho, and assistant U.S. attorney Miller Bushong.

Among state nephrologists - doctors who specialize in kidney care - Gordinho wrote the sixth-most hydrocodone-acetaminophen Medicare Part D prescriptions, including refills, in 2013. That year, Gordinho handed out 1,577 hydrocodone prescriptions, according to ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization that tracks doctors and drugs in the United States.

Gordinho wrote almost 2,000 oxycodone prescriptions to Medicare patients in 2013. According to the West Virginia Board of Medicine, Gordinho is a 1977 graduate of the Autonomous University of Guadalajara and did his post-graduate training at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1987. Gordinho obtained his West Virginia license in 1989, and is also licensed to practice in Virginia and New Jersey.

In 2003, the West Virginia medical board reprimanded him for "certain answers given by Dr. Gordinho on his license renewal form for the period of July 1, 2000, to June 30, 2002." The board has taken no other actions against him. In June 1999, the Virginia Board of Medicine issued a notice to Gordinho saying the board was looking into allegations that he may have violated several laws in the treatment of seven patients at a hospital in Low Moor, Virginia. Following a six-month review, the board exonerated Gordinho and dismissed the matter with no action taken against him. The issue was the only one on file in the Virginia Board of Medicine's records on Gordinho.

Gordinho was taken back to the Southern Regional Jail after his plea hearing Thursday. He has been held there since November, when the charges were filed against him.

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

]]>
Beckley doctor faces more federal charges http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160106/GZ01/160109731 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160106/GZ01/160109731 Wed, 6 Jan 2016 17:29:49 -0500 Kate White By Kate White More charges were filed Wednesday against a Beckley-based nephrologist who has a guilty plea hearing set for today.

Dr. Jose Jorge Abbud Gordinho, 67, was charged with health care fraud on Tuesday. In November, a federal grand jury returned a 21-count indictment against him, alleging he conspired to distribute prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone for illegitimate purposes.

A guilty plea hearing is set for today in Beckley in front of U.S. District Court Judge Irene Berger.

The charges filed Wednesday by federal prosecutors state that between January and October 2015, Gordinho knowingly and willfully defrauded Medicare and Medicaid. The charge Wednesday came in the form of an information, which can't be filed without a defendant's consent.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Mike Hissam, one of the attorneys who represents Gordinho, wouldn't comment on the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Miller Bushong also could not be reached for comment.

Hissam filed a motion last month asking that Berger push back the plea hearing. She refused, writing that her schedule wouldn't permit it.

In November, federal prosecutors announced they had charged Gordinho with "multiple counts of distribution of oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone and morphine not for legitimate medical purposes in the usual course of medical practice and beyond the bounds of medical practice, as well as two counts of distributing controlled substances not within Gordinho's capacity as a medical doctor."

Among state nephrologists - doctors who specialize in kidney care - Gordinho wrote the sixth-most hydrocodone-acetaminophen Medicare Part D prescriptions, including refills, in 2013. That year, Gordinho handed out 1,577 hydrocodone prescriptions, according to ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization that tracks doctors and drugs in the United States.

Gordinho wrote almost 2,000 oxycodone prescriptions to Medicare patients in 2013.

According to the West Virginia Board of Medicine, Gordinho is a 1977 graduate of the Autonomous University of Guadalajara and did his post-graduate training at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1987. Gordinho obtained his West Virginia license in 1989, and is also licensed to practice in Virginia and New Jersey.

In 2003, the West Virginia medical board reprimanded him for "certain answers given by Dr. Gordinho on his license renewal form for the period of July 1, 2000, to June 30, 2002." The board has taken no other actions against him.

In June 1999, the Virginia Board of Medicine issued a notice to Gordinho saying the board was looking into allegations that he may have violated several laws in the treatment of seven patients at a hospital in Low Moor, Virginia. Following a six-month review, the board exonerated Gordinho and dismissed the matter with no action taken against him. The issue was the only one on file in the Virginia Board of Medicine's records on Gordinho.

The doctor has been held in the Southern Regional Jail since his arrest in November. The charges contained in the indictment carry a possible maximum 20-year sentence in federal prison and a $1 million fine for each of the counts. The charges filed Wednesday also carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Reach Kate White at

kate.white@wvgazettemail.com,

304-348-1723 or follow

@KateLWhite on Twitter.

]]>
More than 900 drug-related overdoses in Cabell County in 2015 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160106/GZ01/160109750 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160106/GZ01/160109750 Wed, 6 Jan 2016 09:27:20 -0500

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - Officials say more than 900 drug-related overdoses were reported in Cabell County in 2015.

Director of the Mayor's Office of Drug Control Policy Jim Johnson told The Herald-Dispatch that of those reported, 70 resulted in death. Officials say the number of reported drug overdoses in 2015 was greater than the total number of overdoses from 2012 to 2014 combined. There were 272 overdoses in 2014.

The region has been battling an increase in heroin-related overdose deaths since the mid- to late 2000s.

Johnson said his office will continue looking for solutions.

The harm reduction program, run by the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, was started in 2015. It includes the syringe exchange, which is aimed at keeping users healthy and preventing the spread of hepatitis C and other diseases.

]]>
Alcohol death rates on the rise http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20151228/GZ05/151229582 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20151228/GZ05/151229582 Mon, 28 Dec 2015 20:41:54 -0500 By Christopher Ingraham The Washington Post By By Christopher Ingraham The Washington Post Alcohol is killing Americans at a rate not seen in at least 35 years, according to new federal data. Last year, more than 30,700 Americans died from alcohol-induced causes, including alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis, which is primarily caused by alcohol use.

In 2014, there were 9.6 deaths from these alcohol-induced causes per 100,000 people, an increase of 37 percent since 2002.

This tally of alcohol-induced fatalities excludes deaths from drunk driving, other accidents, and homicides committed under the influence of alcohol. If those numbers were included the annual toll of deaths directly or indirectly caused by alcohol would be closer to 90,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In recent years, public health experts have focused extensively on overdose deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers, which have risen rapidly since the early 2000s. But in 2014, more people died from alcohol-induced causes (30,722) than from overdoses of prescription painkillers and heroin combined (28,647), according to the CDC.

Philip J. Cook, a Duke University professor who studies alcohol consumption patterns and their effects, notes that per-capita alcohol consumption has been increasing since the late 1990s.

"Since the prevalence of heavy drinking tends to follow closely with per capita consumption, it is likely that one explanation for the growth in alcohol-related deaths is that more people are drinking more," he wrote in an email.

The number of American adults who drink at least monthly rose by a small but significant amount between 2002 and 2014 - from 54.9 percent to 56.9 percent - according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The change has been especially pronounced among women. The percent of women drinking monthly or more rose from 47.9 in 2002 to 51.9 in 2014. And the percentage of women reporting binge drinking - defined as five or more drinks on at least one occasion - rose from 15.7 to 17.4 percent over the same period.

Cook notes that when you adjust the alcohol fatality rates for age, the increase narrows somewhat. That's because older Americans are at more risk for alcohol-induced diseases, like cirrhosis, and the American population has gotten older over the past several decades. Once you adjust for age, the increase in alcohol-deaths "could plausibly be accounted for by the growth in per capita consumption," Cook said.

The heaviest drinkers are at the greatest risk for alcohol-induced causes of mortality. And some drinkers consume plenty of alcohol indeed. Prior research by Cook indicates that the top 10 percent of American adults consume the lion's share of alcohol in this country - close to 74 drinks a week on average.

For people who drink less, alcohol's effects on health are less clear-cut. A large body of research seems to indicate that moderate alcohol consumption - around a drink or two a day - is associated with decreased risk of mortality.

But with alcohol, the line between "moderate use" and "dangerous use" can be a thin one. A recent study quantified the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of common recreational drugs. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.

The reason? The ratio between a toxic dose and a typical dose is extremely narrow with alcohol. If you're happily buzzed at say, three drinks, three more might make you sick, and three after that may put you in alcohol poisoning territory.

For this reason, some researchers are starting to urge public health officials to focus more on the dangers posed by alcohol, and less on the dangers of less toxic drugs, like marijuana and LSD. One way to rein in problem drinking would be to simply raise federal alcohol taxes, which are currently at historically low levels.

]]>
State agency reports one in five W.Va. adults have tried e-cigarettes http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20151228/GZ05/151229584 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20151228/GZ05/151229584 Mon, 28 Dec 2015 19:17:26 -0500 Lydia Nuzum By Lydia Nuzum As the popularity of electronic cigarettes rises, West Virginia - the state with the highest rate of tobacco users - has seen a spike in residents who have tried "vaping" despite warnings from public health officials dubious of claims of its relative safety compared to cigarettes.

Nearly one in five West Virginia adults have tried e-cigarettes, according to the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health's 2014 Adult Tobacco Survey. Of those, more than 60 percent are current smokers, and more than one-third are younger adults between the ages of 18 and 24.

Nearly three-quarters of the e-cigarette customers in West Virginia are under the age of 35, according to the bureau.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that convert a concentrated mixture of liquid nicotine, flavoring and various chemicals into vapor inhaled by the user. While the devices can resemble traditional cigarettes in appearance and use, they do not contain tobacco or many of the other carcinogenic additives common to traditional tobacco products.

The Food and Drug Administration attempted to ban e-cigarettes in 2009, determining them to be "drugs or drug-delivery devices," but a federal appeals court ruled that the agency did not have that authority in 2010. The agency is now moving to regulate them as tobacco products, which would subject them to the same taxes and laws as cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco, although e-liquid does not contain tobacco and does not produce smoke. So far, the e-cigarette industry has remained largely unregulated, despite concern from public health officials who say the health impacts of e-cigs are uncertain.

"The science behind efficacy and safety claims for these electronic nicotine delivery devices is limited; however, several studies have shown various public health dangers from these products, including known carcinogens in nicotine solutions utilized in e-cigarettes," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer and commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health. "The West Virginia Division of Tobacco Prevention does not classify these products as a safe alternative to smoking, nor does it consider them an approved tobacco cessation or tobacco harm reduction tool. E-cigarettes will continue to keep their users addicted to nicotine."

Dr. Michael Brumage, health officer for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said e-cigarettes have been proven to be harmful to fetal development in the same way traditional tobacco products are, and many have been shown to contain heavy metals, ultrafine particulates and cancer-causing agents like acrolein, a chemical most commonly used as a herbicide.

"They're not healthy, but the science does not yet conclusively prove whether they cause the same long-term health effects in adults as regular cigarettes," he said. "What we do know is that they cause deleterious effects on pregnant women and fetuses especially, and on adolescents."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarette use doubled among middle and high school students between 2011 and 2012. Of the roughly 1.7 million teenagers estimated to have used e-cigarettes in the U.S. in 2012, more than 160,000 had never smoked cigarettes. In West Virginia, more than five percent of those who reported using e-cigarettes were previously non-smokers, a statistic Gupta said is especially troubling for public health officials, because nicotine itself can have negative health impacts.

"The use of all tobacco and tobacco-derived products, in any form, places West Virginia residents at greater risk for negative health outcomes," he said.

West Virginia has the highest rate of tobacco use in the nation - nearly 30 percent of residents use tobacco. More than 30 percent of West Virginia adults who had tried e-cigarettes did so during an attempt to quit smoking, but Gupta said more traditional quitting methods are preferable to e-cigarettes, which still contain nicotine.

"Several non-tobacco methods have been shown to be proven and effective for quitting cigarettes, as well as other tobacco addictions," he said. "Medicinal nicotine also refers to nicotine replacement therapy that has been available since the 1970s as a therapy for smokers trying to quit. These products are highly regulated and monitored by the FDA. The total elimination of most all toxins in the FDA regulated, NRT is clearly preferable to any use of toxin-laden, addicting, disease-causing tobacco products."

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

]]>
Health advocates express concerns over safety of 'vaping' chemicals http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20151228/GZ05/151229585 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20151228/GZ05/151229585 Mon, 28 Dec 2015 19:16:56 -0500 Lori Kersey By Lori Kersey Electronic cigarettes are sometimes billed as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco, but there is still a lot that medical professionals don't know about "vaping."

"A lot of the products are so new that the research is still being done," said Chantal Fields, area director of the American Lung Association of West Virginia. But some of what is known about e-cigarettes is of concern, she said.

One study, by the health watchdog group the Center for Environmental Health, found that 97 e-cigarettes and vaping products had high levels of formaldehyde and acetalehyde, which are cancer-causing chemicals. Vape "e-juice" (the liquid that is poured into the e-cigarettes for users to inhale) also has high concentrations of nicotine. The juice can poison a child who drinks it and burn the skin it comes in contact with, Fields said.

E-juice often comes in colorful bottles and is often candy-flavored.

"We are seeing kids poisoning themselves because it looks like candy and it's not," Fields said. There's no research that shows e-cigarettes are safer than traditional tobacco products, Fields said.

A chemical found in some electronic cigarettes, diacetyl, has been linked to debilitating lung disease. Diacetyl is used in butter flavoring.

Citing a 2002 report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, The Washington Post reported eight workers in a microwave popcorn plant in Missouri developed bronchiolitis obliterans - known as "popcorn lung" - after they breathed diacetyl on the job. Four of the workers needed lung transplants and five died of respiratory causes, according to The Washington Post.

Vaping advocates say the jury is still out on whether diacetyl and a similar chemical, acetyl propionyl, are dangerous to e-cigarette users.

"Those cases in which diacetyl was seen directly to cause broncholitis obliterans were cases in which workers were exposed to an actual vapor from heated flavorings," Oliver Kershaw, founder of the E-Cigarette Forum, wrote in a blog dated July 3, 2015, on vaping.com. "Despite the name, vaping itself is actually not, in the main, the inhalation of a vapor, but of an aerosol. In an aerosol, the particles from the gaseous phase have condensed into larger droplets.

"It's unclear whether these droplets are capable of depositing DA/AP deep within the lung," he wrote.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more and more teenagers are picking up e-cigarettes. Vaping among middle and high schoolers tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to CDC data released in August. Findings from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco survey show that among high school students, current e-cigarette use (defined as on at least one day in the past 30 days) went from 4.5 percent to 13.4 percent in 2014. Among middle schoolers, the numbers went from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014.

"We want parents to know that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it's an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or cigar," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement. "Adolescence is a critical time for brain development. Nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction and lead to sustained tobacco use."

The American Lung Association's official position on e-cigarettes is that the organization is "very concerned" about the potential health consequences of vaping and about the unproven claim that they can be used to help a person stop smoking, according to an ALA statement last year.

Similarly, the American Heart Association has also encouraged caution about vaping.

"E-cigarettes are dangerous because they target young people, can keep people hooked on nicotine, and threaten to re-normalize tobacco use," the AHA said in a statement on its website. "Analysis of the limited data suggested that e-cigarettes did appear to be less harmful than traditional cigarettes and - as a last resort - may help people quit smoking.

"But those finds were accompanied with warnings that the observations were based on a limited pool of medical research and there were no long-term results," the statement said.

The Food and Drug Administration does not currently regulate e-cigarettes.

"There is little or no regulation of this product because it's not a traditional tobacco product - it doesn't fit the current FDA definition of the cigarette, therefore it's not regulated federally," Fields said. "Any regulation is left up to states."

In West Virginia, people have to be 18 before they can purchase e-cigarettes.

"It's a regulation not every state has," Fields said.

Reach Lori Kersey at Lori.Kersey@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1240 or follow @LoriKerseyWV on Twitter.

]]>
More than 33,000 W. Virginians enroll in health marketplace http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20151224/GZ01/151229761 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20151224/GZ01/151229761 Thu, 24 Dec 2015 11:42:41 -0500 CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - More than 33,000 West Virginia residents have signed up for coverage through the federal health care law.

Federal officials said this week that 33,407 West Virginians signed up or renewed coverage on the federal marketplace from Nov. 1 through Dec. 19. Nationally, more than 8.2 million people have enrolled in the 38 states that use the HealthCare.gov website and call center.

Residents have until Jan. 31 to sign up for coverage. People who remain uninsured after that risk rising fines.

Officials say that 2.4 million of those who've signed up across the country this year are new to HealthCare.gov, which is ahead of last year's levels.

]]>