PIPESTEM, WV (WVNS)– Pipestem Resort State Park hosted the 2023 Fall Health Care Conference for the West Virginia Society for Respiratory Care on Wednesday, September 13, 2023.

It’s the 30th anniversary of this annual conference that teaches physicians, therapists, students and other medical professionals more about respiratory healthcare. The two-day conference focuses on increasing knowledge and improving the quality of care for patients. 

Among the many vendors, lectures, resources and information; guests also have free time to explore the park and have fun.

“We’re still celebrating our 30th anniversary as a state society, so we’re just happy to be here and participating and providing education and resources for respiratory therapists in this part of the state to better help and care for their patients,” said Cynthia Keely, a delegate for WVSRC.

Keely said continuing education is vital for medical professionals to keep their license- but it also helps when severe medical issues arise, such as more sufferers of lung disease from Silica dust. 

Black Lung Disease and Silicosis are becoming increasingly common in younger-generation coal miners.

“Certain particulates, especially silicosis and silica and other dust matters are really hurtful to the lung and can cause long-term scarring and damage that you can’t really correct,” said Keely.

Because it is irreversible, the Mine Safety and Health Administration is working to limit Silica dust exposure and make sure coal companies stick to that limit. Silica dust is 20 times more toxic than coal dust, and the MSHA and more than 5,000 people are supporting the new rule.

“I am writing to express my support for a stronger rule protecting miners from silica dust. For too long, miners have been allowed to be exposed to higher levels of deadly silica dust than workers in any other occupation,” wrote Christopher Williamson, Assistant Secretary for MSHA.

The silica standard for coal miners has not been updated since 1985, so this new rule and more medical education can hopefully help prevent more lung diseases.