Clinch Valley Health in Richlands. Courtesy of Clinch Valley Health.
Clinch Valley Health in Richlands. Courtesy of Clinch Valley Health.

Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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Clinch Valley Health in Richlands adds new breast ultrasound services

Clinch Valley Health in Richlands has announced the addition of automated breast ultrasound services to its breast health program, making it the only hospital from Charleston, West Virginia, to Johnson City, Tennessee, to offer this new screening option, according to a news release from the facility.

The automated breast ultrasound system is a noninvasive ultrasound examination, which is an adjunct to mammography for asymptomatic women with dense breast tissue. It is estimated that 40% of women in the United States have dense breast tissue, which can mask the appearance of tumors and limit the performance of mammography. Unlike traditional mammography, ABUS technology is not affected by breast density, and as a secondary screening examination, it can see through dense breast tissue and has been shown to demonstrate a significant improvement in cancer detection.

In early 2019, a national density inform law was passed that mandates that the FDA update mammography reporting so that women be notified if their breasts are dense. Providers may offer supplemental imaging as appropriate to help find cancers hiding in dense breast tissue.

“Mammography remains the gold standard for the detection of breast cancer; however, it doesn’t work equally well in all women, particularly those with dense breast tissue,” interventional radiologist Vijay Ramakrishnan of Clinch Valley said in a statement. “We are hopeful that this new service can provide added peace of mind for our patients and their providers.”

The American Cancer Society recommends that women receive yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. If they have been informed that they have dense breast tissue, they should talk to their doctor about their specific risk and consider additional screening tests that might be appropriate.

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Jutras Lab awarded $1.2 million to create Lyme disease testing

A rapid, at-home test that can diagnose acute Lyme disease is the goal for researcher Brandon Jutras and his team at Virginia Tech’s Fralin Life Sciences Institute.

Jutras Lab has received a $1.2 million multiyear grant through a Department of Defense program that aims to improve patient care and quality of life for military service members, veterans and their families, as well as anyone else living with Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, according to a news release from Virginia Tech.

“Current Lyme disease diagnostic testing is indirect, as it can take weeks, even months, and the results are difficult to interpret, which leads to misdiagnosed or undiagnosed cases,” said Jutras, an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and an affiliate faculty member in the Center for Emerging, Zoonotic and Arthropod-borne Pathogens.

A team of undergraduate and graduate researchers and staff will work to develop an acute test to treat Lyme disease, which has become the world’s most common tick-borne zoonotic disease since it was first identified in the United States in 1975, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Concurrent to the grant-funded research, Jutras’ exploration into developing an accessible test is augmented with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation LymeX Diagnostics Prize.

Jutras, along with colleagues Richard Helm, associate professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, and Marcos Pires, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Virginia, are in the second phase of the competition.

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University of Lynchburg names Basko as VP

Aaron Basko has been named vice president for enrollment, marketing, and communications at the University of Lynchburg. He previously served as associate vice president for enrollment management under Mike Jones, who has retired after a 40-year career in higher education.

Aaron Basko. Photo courtesy of University of Lynchburg.

Basko came to Lynchburg in November 2021 after a stint as vice president for enrollment management at Sweet Briar College. He also held key roles at Salisbury University in Maryland, Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and Rivier College in New Hampshire.

In his role as associate vice president at Lynchburg, Basko helped increase the 2022-23 first-year class by 22.3%, resulting in an additional $1.1 million in revenue, according to the release. Early decision applications tripled during Basko’s time, and he led a strategic overhaul of financial aid packaging and scholarships.

Basko has a master’s degree in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a bachelor’s degree in international studies from West Virginia Wesleyan.

Jones came to Lynchburg in 2014. He led an institutional rebrand in support of Lynchburg’s move to university status in 2018. As vice president for enrollment, marketing and communications since 2021, Jones successfully merged the two units, reinvented enrollment and led the turnaround in admissions and financial aid, the release said.

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Abingdon receives SolSmart bronze designation for solar energy readiness

Abingdon is the latest Virginia locality to join the ranks of SolSmart-designated communities.

The town received a bronze designation noting that it is “solar ready,” creating a path for businesses and residents to go solar, according to a news release from the state. The Virginia Department of Energy partners with the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service to serve as a no-cost technical partner for SolSmart.

Abingdon’s internal processes, such as permitting zoning and inspection standards, had to undergo a review. SolSmart-designated localities remove barriers that could increase costs and time for those wanting to install solar.

“Increasing access to solar energy is an important initiative for Abingdon. We want to support sustainability and help our residents and businesses think green. The Sustain Abingdon committee helped clear obstacles by reviewing the zoning ordinance and creating a website for solar energy options,” sustainability chair Elizabeth Gardner, owner of Full Bloom Farm House in Abingdon, said in the release.

Statewide, more than 30 localities and regional commissions have achieved SolSmart designation; nationwide, more than 470 localities have been designated. All municipalities, counties and regional organizations are eligible to join the SolSmart program.