The rape kit training bill passed the West Virginia Senate

To ease the burden on victims, the new bill would require all hospitals in the state with emergency rooms to always have trained staff to perform forensic rape kit evaluations. Meanwhile, in Connecticut, health care worker shortages are adding legal urgency to recruitment efforts.

AP: West Virginia Senate passes rape kit training mandate

Victims of sexual assault in West Virginia may have an easier time finding health care providers to perform forensic exams and assemble rape kits if a bill passed Monday by the state Senate becomes law. Currently, some victims of sexual assault must travel hours to find a provider properly trained to perform forensic examinations, said Sen. Michael Maroney, a Republican. There are only a few hospitals in northern West Virginia with staff that are properly trained to collect evidence from rape victims. (Willingham, 1/23)

In other US health news –

CT Mirror: CT health care worker shortage prompts lawmakers to find solutions

Leaders of the Legislature’s Public Health Committee said Monday they are committed to addressing health care worker shortages by examining mandatory nurse staffing ratios, closing a loophole that allows hospitals to impose mandatory overtime and exploring strategies for recruitment and retention to increase the number of employees. (Carleso, 1/23)

Wyoming Public Radio: Wyoming’s version of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ advances to Senate

A bill moving through the Wyoming Senate could prohibit teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. Opponents say it stifles free speech and puts queer youth at risk. The bill is very similar to the famous “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed in Florida last year. Trans youth are at much higher risk of depression and suicide than their cisgender peers, according to research. The risk was found to be higher in communities where trans youth were not accepted. (Victor, 1/20)

The Colorado Sun: Colorado middle and high school students may begin receiving annual mental health screenings

The Colorado Legislature aims to make it easier for youth across the state to access free therapy by creating a program where kids in sixth through 12th grades can get a mental health evaluation at school. If approved by state lawmakers, House Bill 1003 would allow public schools to opt into the program, which would be administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (Wentzler, 1/23)

San Francisco Chronicle: UC Berkeley agrees to safety measures after cheerleader concussion lawsuit

Tall cheerleaders at UC Berkeley’s athletic events will get new protections and training under a $695,000 settlement with a former student who suffered three concussions in five months during acrobatic cheerleading in 2017-18 (Egelko, 1 /23)

Bangor Daily News: PFAS-contaminated wastewater flows into Maine rivers

Nationwide results are still being compiled, but many individual wastewater treatment plant operators said they are detecting the chemicals in their treated wastes, which are discharged into waterways that support fish and other aquatic life and sometimes feed drinking water wells of communities. (Roda, 1/23)

Anchorage Daily News: Alaska Regional Senior Clinic to close in February, leaving vulnerable patients with limited options for care

A longtime medical clinic for seniors in Anchorage has announced it is closing at the end of February, sparking concern from patients and providers about dwindling local health care options for some of Anchorage’s most vulnerable residents. (Berman, 1/23)

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Cancer deaths raise concerns about decades-old hometown school

Leilani Thorpe has always been concerned about cancer, as three of her family members have died from the disease. But after her mother died of stomach cancer in 2017, she was in shock. Thorpe, who lives in the small Shoshoni-Paiute tribe town of Owyhee on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, has known many fellow citizens whose family members have died of cancer since the 1970s. (Hill, 1/23)

This is part of KHN’s Morning Briefing, a roundup of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for email subscription.

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