OVMC Earns Grant from American Cancer Society

Monday, May 18, 2009

CONTACT: Maggie Espina at (304) 234-8135 or mespina@ovrh.org

WHEELING--Ohio Valley Medical Center will have some financial assistance in its ongoing effort to educate young people regarding the dangers of cigarette smoking, officials announced at a press conference today.

Flanked by representatives from the Ohio and Marshall County Health Departments, as well as the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and Ohio and Marshall County Schools, officials outlined the terms of a grant for nearly $9000 from the American Cancer Society. OVMC is one of only 19 grant recipients in a seven-state region from Georgia to Delaware.

\"This grant will assist us in implementing a plan for reaching out to elementary school students to educate them regarding the very real health impacts of cigarette smoking and tobacco use,\" said James R. Stultz, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital.
The program was designed by Nadeem Ikhlaque, Medical Oncologist and Physician Liaison with the OVMC Cancer Committee, in conjunction with the WV School of Osteopathic Medicine, the Ohio and Marshall County Health Departments, Dr. William Mercer and the Ohio and Marshall County School Systems. Ikhlaque is the area's only board certified hematologist.

\"We believe that it's critical to reach children at young ages to educate them,\" Ikhlaque said. \"If they don't ever start using tobacco, they don't have to worry about trying to quit later in life.\"

\"It is dangerous and a significant health risk at any age,\" Ikhlaque added. \"The best thing is just never to start.\"
The primary goal of the program is to prevent young people in Ohio and Marshall Counties from using tobacco products, thus reducing illness and mortality rates in northern West Virginia. The program will be implemented during the 2009-2010 school year and will involve a multi-faceted approach designed to ignite interest among the children.

\"Our plan is to kick off the program in the Spring of 2009 with a Poster Contest and pre-test for area fourth graders,\" Stultz explained. \"We will follow up with educational programs to more than 30 classes of fifth graders throughout Ohio and Marshall Counties in the fall and early winter of 2009-2010.\"

The presentations will be made by Dr. Ikhlaque, along with students from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and students from the OVMC School of Radiologic Technology. They wil include hands-on opportunities, such as viewing and touching lifelike healthy and ‘sick' lungs. Addtionally, students will receive activity packets to take home and will have opportunities to win t-shirts and other great prizes for their participation.

Also, local students who are involved in the RAZE program and other program participants will be collecting signatures for petitions in support of the hospital's initiative to reduce the use of tobacco products in our young members of the community.

\"The goal is simply to utilize as many resources as possible to get the message out to our kids that the use of tobacco is a bad thing for them, for their friends, for their families,\" Stultz said. \"We just can't say it enough. It's that important.\"

OVMC has long supported the efforts of the American Cancer Society. In 2008, the OVMC Relay for Life Team raised more than $10,000 for the annual event in which they are active participants. Addtionaly, Dr. Ikhlaque has spoken at numerous events regarding cancer prevention and advances in treatments and the Cancer Committee has sponsored cancer prevention health fairs. In addition, the Wellness Department at OVMC offered an innovative Tobacco Cessation Program to all employees, as well as family members.

Joining Stultz and Ikhlaque at the OVMC event were Michelle Chappell and Kevin Tephabock of the American Cancer Society, Dr. Ralph Wood from the WV School of Osteopathic Medicine, Howard Gamble and Dr. William Mercer from the Ohio County Health Department, George Krellis and Dianna Vargo from Ohio County Schools and Shelly Beam from Marshall County Schools.