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Health and Medicine

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With the flu season now in full swing, new visitation restrictions are now in place at all Centra facilities. They include no more than two visitors at a time to any patient – and children should not be brought in unless they need medical attention. Centra says anyone with any flu or cold-related symptoms should stay away from patients.

NEWS RELEASE:  Due to the increased prevalence of flu in our area, all Centra facilities are implementing temporary visitation restrictions.

In order to protect our patients from flu and other infectious diseases, we have implemented new visitation restrictions. We respectfully ask our community to follow these new guidelines during the remainder of the flu season; Visitation is limited to healthy adults

  • Please do not visit if you are sick, have a fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, headache, muscle or joint pain
  • For protection of children and patients, it is highly recommended children not be brought into any Centra facility unless medical attention is needed
  • Please no more than two visitors at a time per patient

These restrictions aim to protect patients and halt the spread of influenza and other infectious diseases. Centra will lift this temporary restriction once the flu season has declined. Other area healthcare facilities and hospitals are adopting similar visitation restrictions. These restrictions are effective immediately.

 

 

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing about $22 million for efforts to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies and reduce the racial disparity in the state’s maternal mortality rate.

Northam announced Monday that his budget proposal for the upcoming legislative session includes funding to expand Medicaid coverage for new moms and increase home visits from care providers. Funding is also included to study the possibility of Medicaid reimbursement for doula services and to increase access to long-acting contraception.

Northam, a Democrat, established a new initiative in June intended to reduce the maternal mortality rate for black women, which his administration says is more than twice as high as it is for black women.

Passing a two-year state spending plan will be a top priority for the General Assembly during the 2020 session. During last month’s legislative elections, voters gave Democrats full control of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation.

The governor is expected to share full details of his budget plan next week.

Photo: SW Regional Jail Auth.

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A Virginia doctor who prosecutors said ran his Martinsville medical practice like an interstate drug distribution ring was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years in prison for illegally prescribing opioids. Dr. Joel Smithers, of Greensboro, North Carolina, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Abingdon.

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Day Rottenborn said Judge James Jones sentenced Smithers to 40 years. He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life. Smithers was convicted in May of more than 800 counts of illegally distributing opioids, including oxycodone and oxymorphone that caused the death of a West Virginia woman.

Authorities say Smithers prescribed more than 500,000 doses of opioids to patients from Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee while based in Martinsville, Virginia, from 2015 to 2017.

Smithers, 36, a married father of five, testified that he was a caring doctor who was deceived by some of his patients. Some patients remained fiercely loyal to him, testifying that they needed the powerful opioids he prescribed for them to cope with chronic pain.

Smithers wrote in a court filing that he plans to appeal his convictions.

The Virginia Department of Health says it has confirmed that a southwest Virginia resident has died from a severe lung injury associated with vaping. The victim died at a Greensboro, North Carolina medical center; health privacy laws prevent state officials from releasing his or her name. At least 12 other deaths attributed to e-cigarette use have been reported in ten other states.

NEWS RELEASE: Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) confirmed that a Virginia resident has died in the outbreak of severe lung injury associated with e-cigarette use or “vaping.” This death was reported by Cone Health in Greensboro, N.C. on September 26, 2019.

“I am deeply saddened to announce the first death of a Virginia resident related to this outbreak. Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. The decedent was an adult from the southwest region. To protect patient confidentiality, VDH will not release additional details.

As of September 30, 2019, there have been 31 lung injury cases, including the death, in Virginia. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 805 cases from 46 states and one U.S. territory, as of September 24, 2019. Twelve other deaths have been confirmed in 10 states.

The cause of this outbreak is unknown. VDH recommends that people who are concerned about lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use or vaping refrain from using e-cigarette products. Regardless of the ongoing investigation, people who use e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer.

E-cigarette products should never be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products. In addition to other potentially harmful chemicals, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development. People who do use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever) and promptly seek medical attention or call a poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 if symptoms develop.

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NEWS RELEASE:  In mid-August, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) received a report from the Virginia Poison Center of a cluster of patients in the Central Virginia area with severe hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar levels) requiring hospitalization, following use of an over-the-counter pill promoted for male sexual enhancement. The pills are commonly sold at convenience stores and/or gas stations in Virginia. Following the initial report, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) issued a press release advising consumers not to purchase or use a product sold under the name “V8”.

There are reports of similar illnesses across Virginia, in individuals who have reported taking the pills. As of September 16, 2019 VDH has received additional reports of illness associated with V8 in the Eastern Region (one case), Central Region (four cases) and Southwest Region (six cases). Of those, VDH has confirmed seven cases; four remain under investigation.

Symptoms of severe hypoglycemia include sweating, a racing heartbeat, irritability, anxiety, shakiness and altered mental status. Individuals experiencing symptoms of severe hypoglycemia should seek immediate medical attention. Previously reported cases have recovered with timely medical treatment.

Individuals and healthcare professionals should contact one of Virginia’s three Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 about adverse events and side effects of products.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia’s death toll from opioid overdoses keeps rising despite state and local governments spending millions on making an antidote available. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that figures through the first three months of this year show Virginia was on pace to record its highest opioid overdose death toll since it began tracking the data in 2007. That’s despite the state health department spending nearly $2 million dispensing the drug naloxone since late 2016, almost three times what it spent on all other harm reduction services combined. Emergency response agencies have spent more. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report last month that the doubling of naloxone prescriptions between 2017 and 2018 resulted in a slight reduction in deaths. Researchers said dispensing levels are still inadequate.

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