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WVU School of Dentistry to offer free children’s exams Feb. 4

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University School of Dentistry will launch National Children’s Dental Health Month by offering free examinations, appropriate x-rays and fluoride treatments to children on Friday, Feb. 4 in the WVU Pediatric Dentistry Clinic. The exams are offered to children ages 1 to 17 from 8:45 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3:45 p.m. The appointments are part of the annual “Give Kids a Smile!” national dental access program of the American Dental Association and the West Virginia Dental Association. Appointments are required, and space is limited. To schedule an appointment for the free exam, call 304-293-0401 starting Monday, Jan. 24. WVU dentistry and dental hygiene students will perform the care under the supervision of the faculty. “This program allows our students and faculty to reach out to people in our community who lack access to dental care because they don’t have insurance,” Louise Veselicky, D.D.S., interim dean of the WVU School of Dentistry, said. “We encourage area residents to take advantage of this opportunity to visit the clinic and learn of the services we can provide to their children.” The 2001 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health stated that nearly one in six children over age 5 will have a cavity by age 17, and nearly eight in 10 children already have dental decay. Dental problems result in nearly 51 million hours of missed school time each year. Complications arising from untreated diseases of the mouth can lead to problems in eating, speaking and learning. More than one third of adult West Virginians have lost six or more teeth as a result of decay or gum disease. This is almost twice the national average. “Starting proper dental care early in life will help children form good oral habits that will carry into adulthood. Dental visits beginning no later than 1 year of age have been shown to prevent or reduce the severity of dental disease,” Elliot Shulman, D.D.S., associate professor of pediatric dentistry, said. “It is vitally important that parents take an active role in their children’s oral health education and supervise or assist them in tooth brushing.” Dr. Veselicky said, “The WVU School of Dentistry has a long tradition of working to improve the oral health of the citizens of the state. We are pleased to be a part of this effort.” For more information on the WVU School of Dentistry see www.hsc.wvu.edu/sod.   [...]

Applebee’s event to benefit WVU Children’s Hospital

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Diners at the Applebee’s on Van Voorhis Road in Morgantown can help West Virginia University Children’s Hospital just by paying their checks. Applebee’s will host Dining to Donate from 11 a.m. to midnight on four consecutive Thursdays: Jan. 20, Jan. 27, Feb. 3 and Feb. 10. When patrons present the Dining to Donate flier to their servers, 15 percent of their checks will be donated to the WVU Dance Marathon, which in turn donates the money to WVU Children’s Hospital. Each year, WVU students spend 18-hours dancing in the Mountainlair Ballrooms to raise money for WVU Children’s Hospital. This year’s Dance Marathon will be held from noon on Feb. 26 to 6 a.m. on Feb. 27. To date, the event has raised more than $230,000. To participate in the Dining to Donate event, a flier must be obtained prior to going to Applebee’s. To get a flier, contact Lora Edgell at 304-598-4346 ext. 2 or edgelll@wvuhealthcare.com.   [...]

WVU Children’s Hospital changing the way it cares for its tiniest patients

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – There’s a special section of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at West Virginia University Children’s Hospital with the words “Wee Care” over the doorway; it’s called the Small Baby Pod. This is where the unit’s tiniest patients receive care and where a new approach to that care is taking place. Mark Polak, M.D., director of the NICU, said that changes in the care of newborns have occurred in the last 30-plus years. Intensive care units have been established and expanded. Equipment and drugs have changed. But the one thing that has not really changed is the care plan. A multidisciplinary team that included physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists and palliative care staff decided that patients would benefit from a unified approach for care built on evidence-based best practices, Polak said. “What we’re doing does not involve a new structure or a new piece of equipment but instead involves a change in thinking,” he said. “It’s a huge investment. But here the investment is in our minds.” The Small Baby Pod houses babies born before the 26th week of pregnancy and those who weigh less than 2 pounds. Dr. Polak said these babies are born healthy but they are immature in all their organ systems, which can make them as sick as those who have the flu or were involved in a car accident. He anticipates that there will always be four babies in the pod, which is as many as it can hold. They will be there for about one month and then move to another part of the NICU for the remainder of their stay. To better accommodate the needs of the babies, the lighting and sound levels in the Small Baby Pod are decreased. Babies born so prematurely should be in darkness, Polak said. These changes help make them more comfortable. Another change involves recognizing and addressing the emotional needs of the parents. Expectant parents prepare themselves to take their baby home shortly after birth. Parents of NICU babies, especially those in the Small Baby Pod, face a hospital stay of six months or longer, Polak said. Palliative care staff can help the parents with the emotional upheaval of having a baby in the NICU. “What we’re doing now is as close to ideal as possible based on what has been published,” he said. “We can make a big difference on their time in the hospital and not only increase the quality of care we provide but also increase their quality of life.” For more information on WVU Children’s Hospital see www.wvukids.com.   [...]

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. [...]

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