A recent report from the Center for Investigative Journalists found West Virginia leads the nation in fatal overdoses among veterans’ hospital patients.
The Beckley VA Medical Center provided more than 150 prescriptions per 100 patients, the second-highest rate in the country during that period, according to the report.
Dave recently visited the VA in Beckley, where officials defended the facility’s high number of painkiller prescription.
From the story:
The report was old information to (Director Karen McGraw) and Dr. John Berryman, the center’s chief of staff. Reports provided as early as the late 2000s by the national VA informed the center of its high per-patient prescription rates, McGraw said.
Both pointed to the aging Vietnam veterans and younger veterans with injuries “never seen before” leading to more prescriptions. McGraw also said a national initiative, known as “pain as the 5th vital sign,” called on VAs to more aggressively attack pain.
Both issues face all VAs, McGraw and Berryman said.
Southern West Virginia is notorious for obesity, diabetes, smoking and lack of physical activity, all of which are reported at a local and national level. Those kinds of health problems are only amplified when a patient also happens to be a veteran, Berryman said.
In other news…
- Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss said the state could face serious financial difficulties if the federal government ever experienced a prolonged (more than month-long) shutdown. He urged lawmakers at an interim meeting on Monday to begin considering ways the state could prepare for such an event, including creating a furlough statute that would allow the Governor’s Office to temporarily lay off personnel.
- Also during interim meetings yesterday, Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein said his agency would soon halve the number of its prisoners residing in regional jails by increasing the number of beds at existing prisons, opening a new facility in Salem and housing some inmates with out-of-state contractors.
- Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, speaking at a community banking symposium Monday at the Charleston Marriott, said she’s optimistic Congress will begin reforming the nation’s mortgage finance system next year.
- Speaking to reporters via video conference from Switzerland, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (poor guy) said he hopes to make some big announcements in the coming weeks about new business ventures between the Mountain State and our friends across the Pond.
- While our current governor is studying abroad, former Govs. Gaston Caperton and Bob Wise spoke at the University of Charleston Monday night, emphasizing the need for a quality education in improving West Virginia’s economy.