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Medical conference focuses on regional issues

Oct. 31, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- A premier medical conference in West Virginia and throughout the region is coming to Pullman Plaza Hotel next week.

The 27th Annual Jose I. Ricard, MD Family Medicine & Sports Medicine Conference will be Nov. 8-10 at the Pullman Plaza Hotel in Huntington. It will feature 26 speakers -- including celebrity speaker Chad Pennington -- who will speak on a variety of medical topics relevant in the region and selected after a survey of last year's participants.

The conference will include a diabetes/obesity symposium; a discussion with a world expert on depression, Dr. Rakesh Jain from the University of Texas; a talk from the president and CEO of AIDS United, Michael Kaplan, who will discuss HIV/AIDS both nationally and in West Virginia; and lectures from a number of other physicians speaking on topics such as birth defects, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, ADHD and many others. Former Marshall University and NFL quarterback Chad Pennington will speak at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, about his medical encounters through his athletic career.

"He's certainly qualified to talk about injuries, surgeries and rehabilitation," said Matt Walker with the Family Medicine Foundation of West Virginia, which hosts the event each year to provide continuing education opportunities for area health care professionals. He co-coordinates the conference with Jeff Stevens of the foundation.

The Family Medicine Foundation of West Virginia was founded in 1982 with a mission to enhance health care delivered to West Virginians by supporting its providers, awarding scholarships to medical students who pledge to practice family medicine in West Virginia after graduation, and by hosting this conference.

"The conference has grown to become West Virginia's largest medical meeting, with more than 500 attendees per day for the week, and more than 1,500 people per day visiting Huntington, counting attendees, their family members, speakers, exhibitors and others from 20 different states," Walker said. "The three-day conference offers 23.5 hours on continuing medical education."

The conference is named after a legend in Marshall University sports medicine, who was also a family physician, Dr. Jose I. Ricard. The Sunday sports medicine portion of the conference is named after Dr. Paul Ambrose, a family physician and Cabell County native who was rapidly climbing to the top of the nation's public health field when he died on Sept. 11, 2001.

A new feature planned for the evening before the official conference kickoff is a three-hour "Drug Diversion and Best Practice Prescribing of Controlled Substances" lecture. It is required by all medical boards in West Virginia to renew licenses for all providers prescribing medication. It's planned for 6 to 9:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at Pullman Plaza Hotel.

The lecture is intended for medical and osteopathic physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists and nurses.

"They have to take this course. They don't have to take it from us, but they have to take it somewhere," Walker said. "That comes from a piece of legislation that passed last year. There are 11 objectives in the lecture dealing with the prescription drug epidemic, from statistics to guidance on managing patients with chronic pain, and how to register and check the West Virginia Controlled Substances Database. It gives guidance to pain and prescribing controlled substances."

The cost of the three-hour lecture is $90 and includes a meal.

Costs to attend the overall conference vary by profession. Registration is available at www.fmfwv.org or by calling the Family Medicine Foundation of West Virginia office at 304-733-6485.

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