1MORGANTOWN — Visitors and patients at West Virginia University hospitals may find they’re having an easier time getting around the facilities since employees created a mobile app to help them.

The app is for WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital and Children’s. It’s called WVU Medicine and is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play store.

The hospitals said in a news release the app will route guests through publicly accessible areas such as the lobbies, waiting areas, clinical departments, cafeteria, coffee shop and gift shop. It will also route them to nurses’ stations.

The app can update guests on a patient’s status during a procedure or test. Users can provide feedback about their experience at the hospitals.

The app was created by employees in the hospital Information Technology Department and will be updated to meet patient and visitor needs.

 

House passes rape kit testing, collection bill

2CHARLESTON — West Virginia may soon require the speedy testing and collection of rape kits under a bill passed by the West Virginia House of Delegates on Friday.

Lawmakers approved the proposal by a unanimous vote of 96-0 without debate. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The bill comes during a national push to clear backlogs of the kits. More than 20 states have approved bills to require submission guidelines or kit audits in the last two years, according to the advocacy group End The Backlog.

The measure would require the kits to be submitted to the state police’s forensic lab within 30 days or as soon as possible after collection. It would also allow for the creation of a tracking process of the kits and would require a court order before law enforcement could dispose of the examinations.

In West Virginia, state officials launched an initiative in 2015 to start testing its nearly 2,400 shelved rape kits. Some of the kits dated back to the 1980s.

On Friday, a spokesman for the state’s department of military affairs and public safety said there are now about 130 sexual assault kits awaiting testing. The initiative has resulted in 166 matches to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, a database for linking crimes.

 

Family drug

treatment court

set to open

3 SPENCER — A family drug treatment court is set to open in a West Virginia county.

The opening of the court at the Roane County Courthouse in Spencer is scheduled for Friday. Four state Supreme Court justices are expected to attend. The event is open to the public.

Family treatment courts are aimed at protecting abused and neglected children while helping parents facing the potential loss of custody to overcome substance use disorders.

The Legislature approved the new court system last March. The first such court opened in Boone County in October. Participation by families is voluntary.

Drug cases have overwhelmed West Virginia’s court system. In a state of 1.8 million residents, more than 30,000 people are in drug treatment in West Virginia, which has by far the nation’s highest drug overdose death rate.

As the state grapples with the addiction epidemic, the number of children under state foster care has swelled to about 6,900, up more than 60% from 2015.

State Supreme Court Justice Beth Walker has said nearly one-third of the appeals heard by the court involve child abuse and neglect.

 

Officials looking for help with summer meals program

4CHARLESTON — The West Virginia education department is calling for help with a program that feeds children free meals during the summer months.

The agency issued a news release last week asking for organizations such as nonprofits, county boards and others to partner with them for their Summer Food Service Program.

“With most schools out during the summer months, it is vitally important that community partners and organizations participate in the Summer Food Service Program to ensure no child goes hungry,’’ said Steve Paine, the state’s school superintendent.

The department said nearly 200,000 students in the state depend on free and reduced-price meals at school but only around 18,000 use the agency’s Summer Food Service Program.

 

Several elk

transported from

Arizona died of

parasite

5CHARLESTON — Nearly one-third of the elk herd transported to West Virginia two years ago died from a parasite, a wildlife official said.

White-tailed deer carry but apparently are unaffected by brainworms, which can be deadly to other antlered animals. Randy Kelley, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ elk project leader, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that during grazing, the elk accidentally consumed snails that had eaten brainworm eggs.

More snails and slugs existed than usual during the wet spring of 2019, Kelley said.

There were 46 elk transported from Arizona in March 2018 to Logan County. The elk underwent a 120-day quarantine period mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which included an additional disease test.

Kelley said the quarantine weakened the elk physically.

“If we had been able to release those elk promptly, and without having to recapture each one of them individually for re-testing, I think a lot more of them would have survived,’’ Kelley said.

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