WVU Medicine Cabinet News Stories

WVU plans to establish new School of Public Health

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia has historically been ranked at the bottom of the lists that measure health, whether it’s obesity, heart disease, diabetes, tobacco and drug abuse or any of dozens of other such indicators. West Virginia University is planning to establish a new School of Public Health to help solve the state’s health problems. “This is a bold goal, and I’m pleased to say it has the full support and endorsement of the Health Sciences and University leadership and key statewide constituents and stakeholders,” Chancellor for Health Sciences Christopher Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., said.  “The time is right to take this step; we already have in place about 80 percent of the faculty and other requirements we would need for a nationally accredited school here.” Some public health programs already exist in the WVU School of Medicine, and enrollment has been increasing rapidly. The Master’s of Public Health (M.P.H.) program has doubled enrollment since 2008. WVU also offers a master’s degree in school health education and a Ph.D. program in public health sciences.  Several community-based health programs developed at WVU are having national and international impact. Dr. Colenda said an independent fully accredited school would allow the programs to expand to attract the best faculty and students.  He said it would increase research investment, which is key to developing effective solutions to the state’s persistent health issues. The establishment of the new school is part of the Strategic Plan for the University, which includes this goal: “Enhance the wellbeing and the quality of life for the people of West Virginia.” “We have been transforming lives in this state for more than 50 years, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” Colenda said. “The new WVU School of Public Health will have a positive impact on the future for generations of West Virginians.” Studies show the current public health workforce in the state is aging rapidly toward retirement, and there would be many career opportunities for graduates. They may choose to work in various fields that include health services administration, biostatistics, epidemiology, health education, environmental health and international health. Creation of the WVU School of Public Health requires approval from the WVU Board of Governors and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Committee. For more information about current public health offerings at WVU Health Sciences, go to http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/cmed/.   [...]

Study shows exercise improves pain and physical function in adults with arthritis

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A study by researchers in the West Virginia University School of Medicine and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that exercise improves pain and physical function in adults with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. George A. Kelley, D.A. and Kristi S. Kelley, M.Ed., researchers in the WVU Department of Community Medicine, Dina Jones, Ph.D., WVU Department of Orthopaedics, and Jennifer Hootman, Ph.D., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studied the effects of community-deliverable exercise on pain and physical function in adults with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Community-deliverable exercise is that which can be performed in a community setting – such as recreation or senior centers, in the home or in the neighborhood – without the need for a special facility beyond a community room or warm pool for aquatic exercise. The leader of these exercises does not need an academic degree. Cost of participation should be minimal, and the equipment needed should be inexpensive. For this study, the researchers pooled the results from multiple studies that included 3,180 men and women with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia. Exercise included aerobic exercise (for example, walking), weight training or both approximately three times per week. Improvements of up to 18 percent were found for pain and 15 percent for physical function. “It is well established that adults with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases suffer from increased pain as well as reduced physical function as a result of their condition,” Dr. Kelley said. “Our findings suggest that community-deliverable exercise can be an important option for improving pain and physical function in adults with these diseases.” According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 49 million adults in the United States have self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis.   The study, supported by a cooperative agreement from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention through the Association of American Medical Colleges, appears in the January issue of “Arthritis Care and Research,” an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals.   [...]

A grateful patient becomes generous donor

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Simple tasks such as driving, reading, or watching television are all activities most of us enjoy every day without giving much thought. Yet to someone who has come dangerously close to losing her eyesight, the ability to do these things becomes a gift with greater meaning. A thankful West Virginia University Eye Institute patient whose own vision impairment was corrected has now donated generously to help save the sight of others. Mae Catherine “Kitty” Reeves, of Baltimore and Westernport, Md., has become the latest inaugural class member of the WVU Eye Institute’s Giving Circle, an opportunity created to engage the leadership and philanthropic support of individuals who want to make a significant contribution to the lives of others who suffer from visual disabilities. In 2006, the now retired administrative law judge was taken to the emergency room when she suddenly developed double vision while driving. Reeves visited a string of doctors, but none had an explanation for the condition. Eventually, she was referred to the WVU Eye Institute and Judie Charlton, M.D. After two surgeries, Reeves’ vision and life returned to normal. 2010 marked the Giving Circle’s first year. Members’ charitable investments of at least $10,000 are pooled with the contributions of other Giving Circle donors to make a substantial impact on the programs and services offered by the WVU Eye Institute. Each year, the combined funding is awarded to one or multiple Eye Institute programs, benefitting patient care, outreach, research, and/or education. Each year, the WVU Eye Institute sees approximately 31,000 patients from all 55 counties in West Virginia at its Morgantown facility and various outreach clinics around the state. The clinics provide diagnosis, treatment and specialized medical and surgical care for vision conditions and diseases that without attention, could sometimes lead to long-term vision loss. To learn more about the WVU Eye Institute’s Giving Circle, please contact Paul Daugherty, director of development, at 304-598-4843 or eyedevelopment@wvuhealthcare.com.   [...]

Gift from patients enhances WVU Eye Institute

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Infants, children, and adults served by the West Virginia University Eye Institute will continue to benefit from the generosity and caring of two longtime fellow patients and friends of the Institute, Bill and Erna Atkinson. The Atkinsons recently gave $60,000 to the Eye Institute to support the continued training of clinical staff in the use of the RetCam, a tiny retinal camera used to diagnose vision problems in infants and children. A previous gift from the Atkinsons enabled the WVU Eye Institute to purchase the RetCam. RetCam has played a vital role in the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome and Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a potentially blinding condition affecting preterm newborns. The Atkinsons became aware of the need and potential uses for the advanced equipment during a 2009 visit with Judie Charlton, M.D., chair of ophthalmology at WVU and director of the WVU Eye Institute. “Dr. Charlton shared the story of a young girl who was injured by shaken baby syndrome,” said Bill Atkinson. “The Eye Institute’s doctors needed this equipment to properly diagnosis the condition and improve opportunities for future patients.” In addition to RetCam training, the Atkinson’s gift will also purchase portable equipment for the clinic, updates to the training modules for the EYESI virtual-reality surgical simulator, and fund other Eye Institute priorities. The gifts have directly transformed the lives of many patients. As the state’s only center for pediatric ophthalmology and pediatric vision rehabilitation, the WVU Eye Institute plays a critical role in providing specialized vision care for babies and children from all 55 West Virginia counties and surrounding states. Each year, the WVU Eye Institute sees approximately 31,000 patients of all ages through its Morgantown facility and various outreach clinics around the state. These clinics provide proper screening and treatment of eye problems that without attention, could sometimes lead to long-term vision loss. Inspired by Mrs. Atkinson’s mother’s compassion for the blind, the Atkinsons feel they have found a way to truly make a positive difference in the lives of others. “It sure makes us feel good,” said Erna Atkinson. “We have enough to take care of ourselves and extra to help others. Rather than sit on it, we decided to spread the wealth. While it isn’t a huge sum to donate, every little bit helps.  We haven’t experimented with other charities as we stick with the tried and true. The WVU Eye Institute is the ‘tried and true’ for us.”   [...]

W.Va. expectant mothers urged to kick the habit

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –Though the number of pregnant women who smoke is decreasing nationwide, prenatal smoking in West Virginia has climbed dramatically. As more expectant mothers in the state are reaching for cigarettes, a West Virginia University researcher has received a competitive grant of $12,953 from the March of Dimes to study how midwives use a tobacco cessation program to encourage their patients to stop smoking. Ilana Azulay Chertok, Ph.D., R.N., is an associate professor with the WVU School of Nursing and a maternal-child health researcher who has performed studies in both the United States and Israel. In the West Virginia March of Dimes-supported study, midwives caring for women in Monongalia and Preston counties will use the “5 A’s,” a five-step tobacco cessation process recommended by the United States Public Health Service and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The program consists of: •    Asking the patient about tobacco use •    Advising all smokers to quit smoking •    Assessing smokers’ willingness to attempt to quit •    Assisting smokers with treatment and referrals •    Arranging follow-up contacts Success of the 5 A’s among pregnant smokers has varied in past studies, but appears to produce favorable results, said Dr. Chertok. “The ACOG 5 A’s has been documented to improve smoking cessation rates among pregnant women,” said Chertok.  “Pregnancy is a time when women are more motivated to make lifestyle changes. Prenatal health care providers are situated in an opportune position to facilitate this positive lifestyle change.” The rate of prenatal smoking in West Virginia increased dramatically from 24.5 percent in 2000 to 31.9 percent in 2005. Nationally, the behavior decreased in the same time period, dropping from an overall 15.2 percent in 2000 to 13.8 percent in 2005. Though researchers do not know exactly what is behind the climbing numbers, certain indicators have been associated with an increased risk for prenatal tobacco use, said Chertok. “Demographic characteristics have been identified that increase the likelihood that a woman smokes in pregnancy,” said Chertok, “including not being married, lower maternal education, younger maternal age, lower socioeconomic status, and rural location.” There’s also a higher risk of prenatal smoking among Medicaid recipients, she continued. Women who smoke while pregnant place both themselves and their babies at great risk for serious health problems. Babies born to prenatal smokers are at increased risk of being born prematurely and often suffer from low birth weight. Birth defects such as cleft lip or palate are also more frequent. Pregnant women are more prone to ectopic pregnancies and placental problems, as well as stillbirths. As the 5 A’s are implemented in the two counties, Chertok will evaluate midwives’ knowledge of the program, pregnant women’s use of smoking cessation resources, and pregnant women’s changes in smoking behavior. Chertok would like to see the method used on a larger scale. [...]

Grant supports Children’s Vision Health Programs

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The West Virginia University Eye Institute has received more than $40,000 in funding from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (TGKVF) in support of the Institute’s crucial children’s vision services in the Kanawha Valley region, an area that includes Boone, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, Lincoln and Putnam counties. The $41,018 grant award will benefit the WVU Eye Institute’s Pediatric Vision Center and Rehabilitation Program. The Center offers treatment and rehabilitation services to Kanawha Valley area babies and children suffering from severe vision disorders, and to newborns diagnosed with Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a potentially blinding condition. In addition, the grant supports the WVU Eye Institute’s Children’s Vision Rehabilitation Program (CVRP) which provides blind and visually impaired school-aged children with tools to become independent and employable by optimizing visual function both at home and school. CVRP's mission is to provide access to the visual environment for children with incurable vision loss through medical eye care, optical devices, assistive technology, educational recommendations and support to local school systems. Children receive the clinic’s services regardless of their family’s ability to pay. “We believe the Eye Institute provides one of the most valuable services in the health care arena,” said Becky Ceperley, TGKVF president and CEO. “Helping those who are visually impaired prepare for a rich and full life is a priceless gift for those babies and children receiving the specialized treatment from the Institute. The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation is proud to be able to support the work of the Eye Institute in some small way.” The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation is a public foundation that serves the citizens and charitable agencies of the Kanawha Valley by managing donations and appropriately distributing these funds to various organizations. For more information about the programs and services of the WVU Eye Institute, see www.wvueye.com. [...]

WVU Eye Institute receives $80,000 investment

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Over the next two years, the West Virginia University Eye Institute will receive $80,000 from the Bernard McDonough Foundation in support of specialized ophthalmological outreach clinics and charity care. Many geographically and socio-economically isolated citizens in southern West Virginia have difficulty making trips to Morgantown, so the WVU Eye Institute offers specialized care in rural areas of the state. The McDonough Foundation’s gift will allow the Institute to expand its services and increase the number of patients receiving care in more remote areas of the state. “One of the greatest challenges facing rural West Virginians, especially in the southern region of our state, is access to quality health care,” said Robert Stephens, Ed.D., McDonough Foundation president. “Thanks to the WVU Eye Institute those families have access to quality eye care provided by well-trained professionals. We at the Bernard McDonough Foundation are pleased to be partnering with the WVU Eye Institute to provide these essential services.” Each year, the WVU Eye Institute sees approximately 31,000 patients from all 55 counties in West Virginia through its Morgantown facility and various outreach programs around the state. These clinics provide specialized care and treatment of eye problems that without attention, could sometimes lead to long-term vision loss. “We are so grateful for the Bernard McDonough Foundation’s generous investment in our vision-saving work,” Judie Charlton, M.D., director of the WVU Eye Institute, said. “This will have a long-lasting impact on many people in West Virginia.” The Bernard P. McDonough Foundation continues the philanthropy of its namesake, a longtime resident of the Mid-Ohio Valley who envisioned a “healthier, more educated and culturally appreciative citizenry.” For more information about the WVU Eye Institute, see www.wvueye.com.   [...]

WVU eye surgery fellowship program one of first to be accredited

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University’s Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship Program is one of the first five programs in the country to receive accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery, also called oculoplastics, includes the surgery of all the structures around the eye, such as the eyelids, the area behind the eye and orbital bone. It also includes the surgical treatment of Graves’ disease and the removal of the eye as the result of trauma and tumors. Jennifer Sivak, M.D., director of the WVU Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship Program, said attaining this accreditation moves both the program and the institution forward. “It establishes us on the cutting edge of education,” she said. One of the things that makes WVU’s program unique is that it involves a lot of multidisciplinary collaboration. “We work with several different specialties, including neurosurgery, plastic surgery and otolaryngology,” Dr. Sivak said. “It’s hard to have a successful program like ours if you don’t have the right team members in place. We are fortunate to have that here.” Norman D. Ferrari III, M.D., senior associate dean for student services and designated institutional official for graduate medical education at the WVU School of Medicine, said it is not only an honor to be one of the first to receive this accreditation, but it is also an honor to be considered among the leading institutions in the field. Other programs to receive accreditation include those at the University of Louisville, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, which is a Harvard University Medical School teaching hospital. “It’s recognition of the fact that we’re meeting high standards for quality education, patient care and safety and the discovery of new knowledge,” Dr. Ferrari said. “It’s not just us saying how great we are; now an external group is saying it, too.” The ACGME, which was established in 1981, is a private, non-profit council that evaluates and accredits medical residency programs in the United States. WVU has more than 50 ACGME accredited programs, making it the largest sponsoring institution in West Virginia. For more information on the WVU Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship Program, see www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/eye/FellowshipOfferings.aspx.   [...]

Mountain Loggers to make annual Christmas visit to WVU Children’s Hospital

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Mountain Loggers Cooperative Association has been making annual Christmas visits to West Virginia University Children’s Hospital for the past decade, and it’s a tradition they intend to continue. This year, they will visit the hospital on Dec. 18. “I would want someone to care about my grandchild the way I care for the ones that we visit each year,” Ann Glotfelty, association treasurer, said. “It breaks my heart to see them sick, but it is also a great reward when they look at you and give you a thumbs up or smile when you give them a toy.” Every year, they bring toys and stockings for all the patients at WVU Children’s Hospital. They also leave gifts behind to be given out to patients on Christmas Day. Glotfelty said every year she hears stories of the children and grandchildren of her friends in Garrett County, Maryland, who are being treated at WVU Children’s Hospital. “I get all excited about giving, and I truly give from my heart,” she said. “It’s especially difficult for children to have to stay in the hospital around the holidays and miss out on all the parties and activities they normally go to,” Cheryl Jones, R.N., director of WVU Children’s Hospital, said. “We’re so grateful to the Mountain Loggers Cooperative Association for their generosity in helping make the holidays a little brighter for our patients.” A non-profit group, the Mountain Loggers Cooperative Association is composed of loggers, foresters, sawmills and other forestry-related businesses in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Association has donated $55,000 to WVU Children’s Hospital this year, bringing the total raised since 1996 to more than $1.2 million. For more information on WVU Children’s Hospital see www.wvukids.com.   [...]