Welcome to our first edition of WV Living Healthy. In this publication, we look at three major health-related issues facing our state—obesity and diabetes, the opioid epidemic, and access to healthcare—and showcase who is stepping up to solve the problem with innovative solutions.

While working on this issue, one thing struck me. We can’t address any of these issues without better access to health care. Whether that means physical proximity to health care, a problem for our rural communities, or access to health insurance, this is paramount to turning our terrible statistics around. Did you know that the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine is the leading provider of rural primary care doctors in the country? This school is making a difference where it matters most. You can learn more about the school on page 19. And the state’s only West Virginia-based and nonprofit managed care organization, The Health Plan, is focused on creating an innovative quality of care model for the state. Read about how they are improving health care on page 22.

You can’t talk about health care without talking about the issue of obesity and weight loss. So many of our ailments and diseases are linked to excess weight. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, the Chertow Diabetes Center in Huntington is leading the charge on a collaborative approach to the disease. Read about the center on page 14. Weight loss issues are something that just about every one of us battles. Last October, I said to a friend, “I still haven’t lost my baby weight.” And then I realized, my “baby” was about to graduate from high school. It stopped me in my tracks. How did I get to this point? I vowed that I would lose my baby weight before my baby graduated.

A friend of mine introduced me to Ideal Protein. She had great success on the program, so I thought I’d give it a try. I met with Kristen Cooley, medical spa consultant at Tuscan Spa & Salon. I needed something that was easy for me to do on the go, something I didn’t have to think too hard about, no numbers to crunch or track, and someone to hold me accountable. It has changed the way I interact with and react to food. I’ve given up starchy carbs and replaced them with lean protein and vegetables, plus a couple of Ideal Protein chocolate shakes or bars a day. I like that it sets me up for sustainability. Since October, I’ve lost 35 pounds. I still have 15 to go—and May is quickly approaching. I know I’m not alone in this battle of the bulge, so we decided to reach out to experts and our readers to find out what solutions they’ve found (page 10). But remember, no matter what changes you make to your eating patterns, you have to find your own individual path to a healthier lifestyle—and be in it for the long haul. Your life depends on it.

West Virginia is also in the grips of another devastating health crisis—the opioid epidemic. Addiction and its consequences are gutting our state—and no one is immune to the catastrophic effects. But the good news is that we are doing some really innovative things about it. Just look at the BRIDGE device that St. Francis Hospital is using to mitigate withdrawal symptoms (page 7), or what WVU Medicine is doing to turn the tide (page 25). WVU Medicine’s COAT program has been transformative and is even being modeled nationally. WVSOM has created a great publication that helps address the negative stigma associated with opioid use. Check out their Prescription Opioid and Heroin Awareness Toolkit. If you or a loved one need help, support, or guidance on where to turn, please utilize the Statewide Addiction Resource Guide, sponsored by Marshall Health and Thomas Health, on page 28, or visit help4wv.com and search their online database.

Let’s each do our part by stepping up and embracing a healthier lifestyle!

To your health,

Nikki Bowman, Editor


Nikki Bowman
Written by Nikki Bowman
Nikki Bowman, a West Virginia native, is the founder and owner of New South Media, Inc., which publishes the critically acclaimed WV Living, WV Weddings, West Virginia Focus, Explore, and Morgantown magazines. In January 2015, her company also took over the editorial and design of Wonderful West Virginia magazine. She graduated from West Virginia University and received her master’s degree in Writing from DePaul University in Chicago.