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WVU: Rx drugs an increased role in traffic deaths

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As states across the country explore the relaxation of marijuana laws, the changes have sparked widespread debate about the actions’ impact on public safety. According to a [...]

New campaign initiated to keep Bonnie’s Bus on the road

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, the WVU Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center’s mobile mammography unit, is making a significant impact on the health of women in West Virginia, but the financial challenges of keeping the 40-foot long vehicle on the road 10 months out of the year are great. A new campaign called Sponsor A Day on Bonnie’s Bus is designed to cover those expenses, while raising awareness about the breast cancer screenings it provides. Since the program began in 2009, Bonnie’s Bus has provided more than 6,300 breast cancer screening mammograms in 43 of the state’s 55 counties. Of the counties where these services were provided, 11 did not have a mammography facility, emphasizing the need for a mobile unit to visit rural communities. To date, 20 women who were initially screened on the Bus were later diagnosed with breast cancer. The Bus serves women who have private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured women who are participants in the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. Mammograms are provided for women without coverage with funding from grants and donations, so that no woman over the age of 40 is ever turned away. Women whose mammograms suggest a need for further diagnosis and treatment are referred back to local providers for their care. The limited revenues Bonnie’s Bus receives from billing fall short of the $250,000 needed annually to advance the mission of the Bus. After revenues are received, the net average cost of a screening day is about $2,000. Expenses include mammography equipment maintenance, bus and generator maintenance, medical supplies, and travel expenses. A tank of diesel fuel costs around $500; the Bus gets about 3.4 miles per gallon. Through the Sponsor A Day campaign, friends and supporters of the mobile program can help defray some of these expenses by sponsoring all or part of a Bonnie’s Bus visit. A 15-minute sponsorship of $62.50 would cover the time associated with performing one mammogram on the Bus. “We appreciate sponsorship at any level that our friends and supporters choose to donate,” Sara Jane Gainor, director of the program, said. “Every penny will be put toward the continuation of lifesaving breast screening services in our state.” Made possible by a generous gift from West Virginia natives Jo and Ben Statler to the Cancer Center, Bonnie’s Bus is operated in partnership with WVU Hospitals. The bus is named after Jo Statler’s late mother, Bonnie Wells Wilson. To learn more about Sponsor A Day on Bonnie's Bus, visit www.wvucancer.org/bonnie/sponsoraday.   To see all the communities the Bus is traveling to this year, visit www.wvucancer.org/bonnie. [...]

WVU Healthcare telemedicine reduces travel expenses for patients

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Healthcare telemedicine is making it easier for families to receive quality care in their hometowns without travel expenses to Morgantown and missed time from work or school. Amy Chewning, of Elkins, W.Va., and her son Albert are among those to benefit from telemedicine – a medical appointment conducted remotely through a computer, web camera, and secure server between a WVU physician and a partnering medical clinic. Since the age of two, Albert Chewning has received care from WVU pediatric cardiologist John Phillips, M.D., for a heart condition that causes a rapid rhythm called SVT or supraventricular tachycardia. Chewning, now 10 years old, underwent a procedure last year called cardiac ablation to correct his heart rhythm problem. Two of Chewning’s post-operation appointments with Dr. Phillips took place through telemedicine. “I thought it was a great way for us to receive the same kind of care we receive in person because it saved us on time and gas money. Normally, I have to take Albert out of school for a whole day to get to an appointment in Morgantown, and I have to miss a day of work. Now, he can return to school after his appointment here, and I can get back to work,” said Amy Chewning, a nurse at Arbor Community Health in Elkins. Chewning also assists patients at Arbor Community Health during WVU Healthcare cardiology, neurology, and neurosurgery telemedicine appointments. “A lot of people in our area can’t afford to travel to Morgantown to see a doctor, and telemedicine is a wonderful way for them to receive the care they need.” WVU physicians have been consulting by video with patients and their primary care doctors across the state since the 1990s. The original Mountaineer Doctor Television (MDTV) network was established by WVU School of Medicine faculty members James E. Brick, M.D., (now chair of the WVU Department of Medicine) and John F. Brick, M.D., (now chair of the WVU Department of Neurology). The twin brothers, both of whom are graduates of the School, won several federal grants to construct telemedicine links among WVU’s health campuses in Morgantown, Charleston, and in rural hospitals and community health centers across the state. “Telemedicine is a key tool in meeting our mission of reducing health disparities that affect West Virginians,” Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., WVU chancellor for health sciences and president and CEO of the West Virginia United Health System, said. “By making WVU Healthcare specialists available to patients at other locations across the state more than 5,000 times last year, the MDTV program has helped rural physicians and hospitals deliver the highest possible quality of care to their communities.” The total number of provided telemedicine appointments in 2013 was 5,377, an increase of 1,633 consultations over the previous year. Other WVU Healthcare telemedicine specialties include pediatrics, student health psychiatry, psychiatry, and stroke. Sixteen counties are currently being served: Barbour, Clay, Grant, Greenbrier, Jackson, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mineral, Mingo, Pocahontas, Randolph, Roane, Tucker, Upshur, and Wood. [...]

WVU Cancer Center, WVU Healthcare to offer free skin cancer screening

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As warmer weather begins to make its way into the area, people are starting to spend more time outside in the sun. Experts at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at West Virginia University and WVU Healthcare encourage you to protect your skin and will offer free skin cancer screenings from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13 at the Cancer Center. Participants will be asked to complete a form describing their medical and sun exposure history and will be examined by a physician. If anything suspicious is found during the five-minute exam, the patient will be referred for a dermatology appointment. Advance registration is required by May 9. Call 304-598-4500 to make an appointment. “Unlike some cancers, skin cancer can be detected at an early stage when it is curable,” Rodney Kovach, M.D., chief of the WVU Section of Dermatology, said. “Even melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, has a high cure rate if detected early. That is why it is so important to schedule an annual skin cancer screening by a physician.”   Dr. Kovach recommends a monthly skin self-exam in addition to seeing a physician annually. “You should check for things like changes in moles, dry and scaly rough patches, and slowly growing bumps,” he said. “Get to know your skin and what is and isn’t normal.” Kovach added that two of the most important pieces of advice he can offer to prevent skin cancer is to avoid spending a lot of time in the sun and avoid tanning beds and sun lamps because both natural and manmade ultraviolet exposure are the primary causes of all skin cancers. His other skin-cancer prevention tips include: •    Avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense •    Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 daily •    Wearing sunglasses that block the most harmful rays •    Wearing long sleeves, long pants, and a hat with a wide brim when outside The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, and one person dies from melanoma every hour. “Our annual skin cancer screening is an opportunity to continue raising awareness about skin cancer,” Kovach said, “and to remind and encourage people to follow advice on how to protect their skin.”  [...]

SWVL Week brings healthy competition to Wyoming County

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Two fiercely competitive Wyoming County high schools are going head to head in a contest to adopt healthy behaviors. The Southern West Virginia Lifestyles Project (SWVL, pronounced “swivel”), an ongoing health initiative created by the West Virginia University School of Public Health, kicked off SWVL Week Monday, April 14 at Wyoming East High School and Westside High School to promote and encourage healthier living among students and their families.      Throughout the week of April 14-18, Wyoming East and Westside High School students will learn about healthier dietary alternatives and ways to become more physically active in their everyday lives. Developed in response to feedback from students representing both schools, a student competition will use the Twitter hashtags #SWVLEast and #SWVLWest to measure which school’s students apply the most health-conscious behaviors. The winning school will be announced Friday, April 18 and will receive a SWVL Health Fair, including Zumba classes, a bounce house, and various prizes, including gym equipment and a football autographed by the WVU Football Team. A recent report from Gallup’s State of the States survey once again placed West Virginia among the unhealthiest states in the nation, ranked second behind Mississippi. In an effort to reverse the trend, Wyoming County has been chosen as the pilot county to host SWVL, led by School of Public Health faculty member Michael McCawley, Ph.D.. The program was founded by students from the School of Public Health who are former Wyoming County residents. It aims to provide residents of Southern West Virginia with the information and resources needed to make healthier lifestyle choices. Community members in Wyoming County have rallied behind the program. “When I learned of the new WVU School of Public Health and that Dr. McCawley and others may want to bring their programs in Wyoming County, I knew I had to get involved,” David “Bugs” Stover, a longtime Mullens resident, schoolteacher, and county circuit clerk, said. Stover has been an integral member of the advocacy for healthier lifestyle changes in Wyoming County since SWVL’s inception. He will be helping the SWVL team kick off the competition. The Southern West Virginia Lifestyles Project is a collaborative effort from the WVU Schools of Public Health, Nursing, Dentistry, and Pharmacy, the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, and the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism. For more information about SWVL, visit swvlproject.com or follow @swvlproject on Twitter. [...]

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