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Bonnie’s Bus to offer mammograms in Matewan

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels, will visit Mingo County next week, offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women. A service of WVU Healthcare, Bonnie’s Bus will be at the Head Start located at 3085 McCoy Alley in Matewan from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17. The mammograms are billed to insurance, Medicaid or Medicare if available. Mammograms for women who do not have insurance will be covered by the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program or through special grant funds. A physician’s order is needed for a mammogram. For a Bonnie’s Bus appointment call the Mingo County Health Department at 304-235-3570. Last year, Bonnie’s Bus made 65 visits in 30 counties throughout West Virginia providing mammography screening to nearly 800 women. About half of those screened were medically underserved and from challenged socio-economic backgrounds and qualified for screening through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. The goal for this year is to screen at least 1,200 women. Bonnie’s Bus works in collaboration with a statewide partnership of women’s groups, clinicians, public health professionals and other community leaders working to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer in West Virginia. Coalfield Community Action Partnership is sponsoring the Bus visit to Matewan. Made possible by a generous gift from West Virginia natives Jo and Ben Statler to WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Bonnie’s Bus is operated by WVU Hospitals. The bus is named after Mrs. Statler’s late mother, Bonnie Wells Wilson. For information on Bonnie’s Bus, see www.wvucancer.org/bonnie. Attention reporters and editors: If you are interested in covering Bonnie’s Bus when it visits your area, please call the HSC News Service in Morgantown at 304-293-7087 in advance. Out of respect for patient privacy, please do not show up at the location without scheduling an appropriate time for interviews and/or photos. [...]

More than 700 Health Sciences students honored

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The achievements of 704 new West Virginia University Health Sciences graduates will be celebrated over a weekend of activities marking WVU’s 142nd Commencement. The WVU Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy will honor their respective grads at ceremonies May 14 and 15. Receptions for graduates and their families will follow each event. Two visiting leaders from Oman Medical College (OMC) will attend Saturday’s School of Medicine ceremony. As founder of OMC, Dr. P. Mohamed Ali is a member of the school’s Board of Directors and Governing Council. Dr. Saleh Al Kusaibi is dean of OMC. Oman Medical College has operated in academic partnership with the WVU School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy since 2001. The schedule of Health Sciences ceremonies is as follows: Saturday, May 14 8:30 a.m. -- School of Medicine (M.D., Ph.D. programs), Creative Arts Center The School of Medicine will award 93 Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) diplomas and Doctor of Medicine/Doctor of Philosophy (M.D./Ph.D.) degrees. [...]

WVU Children’s Hospital patient to represent state as Children’s Miracle Network Champion Child

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Shortly after Carolyn Smith gave birth to her son, Wyatt, she knew something was wrong. Though he ate regularly, he was losing weight and starving. At six-weeks-old, Wyatt was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF). His doctors in Parkersburg sent him to West Virginia University Children’s Hospital for the special care kids with CF need. Now 15, Wyatt will represent West Virginia and join other child ambassadors from every state as a part of the Children’s Miracle Network Champions Across America presented by Walmart and Sam’s Club. The program brings attention to the work of children’s hospitals by honoring remarkable children who have overcome severe medical challenges. Wyatt spends a good part of his mornings taking medication and treating his CF. After sleeping with a feeding tube all night, he wakes up to take a handful of medication and put on a vest that shakes loose the secretions that build up in his lungs. “It’s part of the burden of cystic fibrosis; it’s mainly a digestive and lung and sinus disease, but it really is a whole body disease,” Kathy Moffett, M.D., director of WVU’s Mountain State Cystic Fibrosis Center, said. “And yet you look at Wyatt, and Wyatt doesn’t look at life and say how unfair is this. Wyatt looks at life and he wakes up with a smile on his face.” From Wyatt’s perspective, he just wants to be treated like a normal teenager. “I want people to know CF isn’t a bad disease like everyone thinks it is,” he said. “You can go every day knowing you have it, and you can still live a normal life.” Wyatt was introduced as West Virginia’s 2011 Champion Child today (May 12) at the Walmart Supercenter Store (#1782) in Vienna. This October, Wyatt and his fellow champions will visit the White House and Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and will attend the Children’s Miracle Network Celebration event at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. For one week, they’ll meet with members of Congress and celebrities, visit the Disney parks and share their stories of medical victory. Since 1987, Children’s Miracle Network and Walmart have worked together to help children by raising money for children’s hospitals. Walmart and Sam’s Club employees, customers and members have raised and contributed more than $500 million for children’s hospitals. WVU Children’s Hospital is the only Children’s Miracle Network hospital in West Virginia. Each year, WVU Children’s Hospital provides care to more than 7,000 newborns and children, who come from every county in West Virginia and also from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio. On average, 1,600 babies are born annually at WVU Children’s Hospital. Almost three-quarters of the deliveries are high-risk. WVU Children’s Hospital physicians provide care for children at the hospital in Morgantown and at clinics throughout the state. For more information on WVU Children’s Hospital, see www.wvukids.com.   [...]

WISH Committee to honor Ruth Kershner, Ed.D.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Women In Science and Health (WISH) Committee at the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center (HSC) will present Ruth Kershner, Ed.D., with its 2011 Excellence Award at 3 p.m. on May 12 in the HSC Learning Center Commons area.  Dr. Kershner is a professor in the WVU School of Medicine Department of Community Medicine. “Ruth models excellence in leadership, mentorship, teaching and service. She has a wonderful enthusiasm for engaging students in doing meaningful projects addressing real life issues that give them an opportunity to learn organization skills, team skills, leadership skills, love of service and community engagement skills,” Ann Chester, Ph.D., WISH Award Subcommittee member and HSC vice president for social justice, said. “She incorporates these experiences into her classes providing a richness of learning opportunities from classroom to community.” The award recognizes outstanding achievements by women at the HSC who are characterized by a demonstration of commitment to diversity, education, scholarship/mentorship, service to West Virginia, leadership, research and the mission of the HSC. Current and retired employees of the HSC are eligible for nomination. “It is my pleasure to be able to nominate such a strong candidate for the Women In Science and Health Excellence Award. Dr. Kershner’s work and vision are truly remarkable and inspiring to her students and colleagues, and she deserves all of the recognition that she has received,” Master of Public Health student Adam Martin wrote in his nomination. Sera Ann Mathew, a former graduate assistant of Kershner’s echoed that sentiment in a letter of support. “As a student, I was motivated by her drive for public health education that radiates through in each of her classes,” she wrote. “Ruth is truly an inspiration to all her students.” Kershner has received high honors for her work in the past. In 2008 she was named Professor of the Year by the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia. She said she’s especially grateful to receive the WISH award. “I am honored to be in the company of the women who came before me in receiving this recognition. There are many women and men on campus who work diligently to advance health education, medical care and research relative to women,” she said. “Additionally, many of our students share this same passion. As a teacher of women’s health and women and violence, I am grateful for this recognition for my small part in our University’s effort to address health disparities.” The Committee was established to enhance the advancement of women through professional development programs, to establish an effective network of women faculty, to assess the current status of women faculty in terms of academic rank, years of service and salary plus incentives and to develop and implement a faculty mentoring program for women. The award is sponsored by the Committee and the WVU National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health. In addition to the reception, Kershner will receive a certificate and a $2,500 honorarium.   [...]

WVU study examines health effects of mountaintop mining

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –  Research has shown greater health disparities in Appalachian coal mining communities. A new study conducted by the West Virginia University School of Medicine shows that the disparities are especially concentrated in mountaintop mining areas. Those areas have the greatest reductions in health-related quality of life even when compared with counties with other forms of coal mining. The measure of health-related quality of life used in this study is a four question population-based measure developed by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a telephone-based, random survey, residents in four central Appalachian states – Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia – were asked questions about how many poor mental and physical health days they experienced in the previous 30 days. “Self-rated health and health-related quality of life were significantly reduced among residents of mountaintop mining communities in the unadjusted and adjusted models,” Keith Zullig, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Community Medicine and co-author of the study, said. “Mountaintop mining county residents experience, on average, 18 more unhealthy days per year than do the other populations. That’s approximately 1,404 days, or almost four years, of an average American lifetime. When mountaintop mining and other coal mining counties were not separated in a previous study, there were 462 reduced health-related quality of life days across an average American life.” Michael Hendryx, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Community Medicine and co-author of the study, noted that this study also looked at the health effects on both men and women. A common belief is that if coal mining causes health problems, those problems are mostly occupational related problems experienced by coal miners themselves. “When analyzed by gender and age group, although the effects were slightly stronger for men, effects were present for women as well, and trends were similar for the mountaintop mining communities. So it’s not just occupational,” Dr. Hendryx said. “These findings suggest the unique contributions mountaintop mining activity makes to negative health ratings among residents in counties with mountaintop mining activity compared with residents in other county groupings.” Hendryx said that like most other studies this one is limited in respect to a lack of direct environmental quality data. “We don’t know exactly how this affects the air and water,” he said. “That’s one of the big next steps – to collect that data and relate it to human health.” Zullig said that because this study was a county-by-county analysis it is still a crude estimate and the numbers could actually be underrepresented. “The effects of mountaintop mining could actually be much stronger among populations adjacent to these mining sites,” he said. “A zip code analysis might help us isolate the effects a bit more.” The study appears in the May issue of the “American Journal of Public Health.”   [...]

Grad student seeks clues to fungal exposure

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Fungal infections can be dangerous to people with compromised immune systems. They’re also a hazard for workers in agriculture and other occupations where long-term exposure to molds and other fungi can lead to allergies or trigger allergic reactions. Ajay Nayak, a Ph.D. student in the Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis graduate program in the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is helping researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) develop an early-warning system for exposure to specific disease-producing fungi. NIOSH operates a major research facility on the University’s Health Sciences campus. Collaborations between WVU faculty and NIOSH researchers provide opportunities for students at WVU to participate in federal health and safety research. NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related illnesses and injuries. Nayak’s research mentor, Donald Beezhold, Ph.D., is the chief of the Allergy and Clinical Immunology branch at NIOSH. Together, they are working to develop biomarkers that can help identify fungal exposure among workers. The biomarkers could also help physicians diagnose the fungal infections that often develop among patients undergoing cancer treatments that suppress the immune system. “Conceptually, biomarkers are something that possibly relate to the cause of a disease,” Nayak said. “So when it comes to a fungal exposure or a fungal disease, we look for something that the fungus produces, such as a toxin or an allergen, something that can specifically identify that fungus. That is the biomarker.” Nayak is working with the mold Aspergillus terreus and trying to identify proteins as biomarkers for diagnosis of fungal infections. “It’s important to identify this fungus early, because the infections it causes are resistant to first line anti-fungal treatments,” he said. “These infections can be fatal.” So far, the studies have led to development of highly specific monoclonal antibodies to Aspergillus terreus. “Since it is expressed during early growth it may be available as an early stage biomarker for infectious disease. In addition, we have developed monoclonal antibodies to several other proteins that are actively secreted by this fungus which also hold diagnostic value,” he said. Nayak says the dynamic research environment at NIOSH is adding to his educational experience at WVU. “In Dr. Beezhold’s laboratory, I have cherished the experience of working with people of different scientific and cultural backgrounds. Rarely do you get to work in an environment with representation from each of the continents. I have always felt secure and comfortable working in this environment and that has contributed significantly in our success. We have published several articles in peer reviewed journals and are getting ready to submit a few more,” he said.   [...]

HSC students to participate in Chick-fil-A Kid’s Fair

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Students representing all the schools from West Virginia University Health Sciences plan on donating their time to Chick-fil-A during an upcoming Kid’s Fair.  It is not likely students will be serving up tasty chicken and waffle fries, but will be there providing children with smiles and helping give hope to those in need.  The Chick-fil-A located on Patteson Drive will be holding a Kid’s Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7.  Children who attend will be able to participate in various fun and educational events.  All the activities will be free; however, Chick-fil-A is asking that participants bring one canned food item per adult or child that will go to Bartlett House, a Morgantown shelter for homeless individuals and families. Dental hygiene student Anna Dickens explained, “We have chosen Bartlett House as the recipient of this year’s fund raiser because we are aware of their limited funding.” Dickens also emphasized that other than food donations, “There are many things that they require such as funding for maintenance, renovations, cleaning, other non-food products and the other services they provide.” Students have already raised $500 through a change drive and raffle. Health Sciences Chancellor Christopher Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., has promised to match that donation. The School of Dentistry will be providing information on dental health as well as handing out toothbrushes. Students from the School of Medicine have planned health related games.  Students from the Medical Technology, Pharmacy, Nursing, Public Health and Exercise Physiology programs at WVU will also be participating. Students will also be hosting a cake walk that will include prizes from local bakeries.    Other activities and participants include a story time sponsored by the Morgantown Public Library; fingerprinting at the DARE van; a display about donating blood from the American Red Cross; Monongalia Country Sheriff’s Department; and a fire truck from the Star City Volunteer Fire Department.   [...]

Informed, frank discussion key to dialysis decision

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – No one can dispute the value of dialysis as a life-saving treatment for those whose kidneys can no longer function on their own. Short of transplant surgery, the process is universally viewed as the next best option for prolonging life. However, just as some hopeful kidney recipients can be deemed unsuitable transplant candidates, some older End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients with other existing serious health problems may find dialysis marginally beneficial at best. Alvin H. Moss, M.D., professor in the West Virginia University Section of Nephrology and director of the Center for Health Ethics and Law, chaired the workgroup of the Renal Physicians Association (RPA) that recently updated its the recommendations for doctors treating ESRD patients. The RPA guide encourages straightforward discussion about the benefits and harms of dialysis treatments. The guidelines for discussion could also be adapted to other serious medical conditions where a positive treatment outcome is highly unlikely. Difficult but necessary questions should be raised, said Dr. Moss. He urges fellow renal physicians to look to the Hippocratic Oath when counseling those over the age of 75 whose kidneys have permanently failed to function about their treatment options. “The oath states, ‘be of benefit and do no harm,’” Moss said. “We don’t want to put people through a lot of pain and suffering if it’s not going to help them live.” Since the passage of the 1972 Medicare Reform Act, most ESRD patients whose kidneys have permanently failed to function have received Medicare coverage for dialysis services regardless of age. At the time, there were about 7,000 Americans undergoing dialysis treatment, all between the ages of 20 and 40 with few, if any, co-existing medical issues. According to the United States Renal Data System 2010 Annual Data Report, of the almost 400,000 patients now on dialysis, 60 percent have diabetes and congestive heart failure, and 80 percent of dialysis patients have high blood pressure. Adjusting for age, sex and race, the risk of death from any cause in dialysis patients is seven times higher than for individuals in the general population. The average survival for a dialysis patient is a little over three years, with about 39 percent surviving five years. “Kidney specialists are pushing doctors to be more forthright with elderly people who have other serious medical conditions,” Moss said. “It’s up to physicians to tell the patients that even though they are entitled to dialysis, they may want to decline such treatment because of the suffering involved and the fact that they may not live any longer even with dialysis treatments.” Moss emphasizes that the decision to judge whether or not treatment is appropriate should be based on the patient’s values and overall condition, ultimately resting with the individual and his or her medical caregiver. As uncomfortable as the conversation can be, joint decision-making is proving to have medical benefits of its own. “Medical treatment is provided one patient at a time in good doctor-patient relationships,” said Moss. “In the last few years, medical research has clearly shown the following benefits of end-of-life discussions by doctors with patients who have a poor prognosis due to advanced cancer or heart, lung, or kidney failure: better patient quality of life, less patient depression, less unwanted aggressive medical care, earlier referral to hospice, lower medical costs and better bereavement adjustment by the family.” For the RPA’s complete 2010 recommendations, visit www.renalmd.org. To learn more about this and other ethical issues pertaining to healthcare, please visit http://wvethics.org.   [...]

WVU Healthcare celebrates Nurses Week

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Healthcare, which employs more than 1,700 nurses, will celebrate National Nurses Week with a variety of activities and events beginning on Friday, May 6. “Nurses Week is a designated time to reflect and appreciate everything the nurses do to provide the best professional quality care,” Dottie Oakes, M.S.N., WVU Hospitals vice president and chief nursing officer, said. “Patients trust and respect nurses and depend on them to be their advocate. This is an opportunity to recognize those nurses who do an outstanding job.” Events kick off with a film festival featuring the premiere of the video “Nurses – Trusted to Care,” which features WVU Healthcare nurses sharing their personal stories. Other activities include an education fair and a food drive benefiting Project MUSHROOM (Multidisciplinary UnSheltered Homeless Relief Outreach Of Morgantown), a WVU School of Medicine program. In addition, there will be gift basket giveaways for nursing employees throughout the week, and the Friends Gift Shop will offer a one day scrub sale on Monday, May 9. Nurses Week starts on May 6 and ends on May 12, which is Florence Nightengale’s birthday. The history of Nurses Week dates back to 1953, and in 1982, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 6 to be “National Recognition Day for Nurses.” In 1990, the American Nurses Association Board of Directors expanded the day to a week-long celebration, and in 1993 May 6-12 were declared as the permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week.   [...]

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