CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state DHHR wants to get the message out about the importance of preventative care.

“Instead of having an illness focus across our state, have a wellness and health focus across our state,” stressed DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling.

The DHHR has put together a public service announcement they plan to air in all DHHR offices around the state. It’s about getting the care you need, when you need it. Bowling said right now that’s a major concern. All you have to do it look at the numbers. West Virginia ranks 50 when it comes to diabetes, 49 with heart disease and 47 in both obesity and cancer. The secretary stressed all those illnesses are preventable if West Virginians seek the right care.

“We want you to seek care. The way we want you to seek care is to, number one, understand the type of coverage you have and know where to go,” explained Bowling. “Make an appointment and develop a relationship with your primary care providers.”

Currently many West Virginians don’t even have a primary physician, even those who have life threatening illnesses that need monitoring on a regular bases. Instead, Bowling said tens of thousands of state residents treat emergency rooms as their only source of medical care.

“People in our state have sought primary care in an emergency room. We know that that is the most costly place to seek care and it is not the most appropriate venue for people who need primary care services,” according to the secretary.

People go into the ER when they’re having chest pains but an ER doctor may not catch the need for diabetes care.

Bowling hopes the public service announcements can reach those who don’t have primary physicians and convince them to find one. With access to the Affordable Care Act, the secretary said there’s no reason you can’t see a doctor on a regular basis.

“We really do need to refocus on high quality, low cost care. And they way you do that is you get care with your primary care provider or a primary care clinic,” said Bowling.

She stressed it’s a change that won’t happen overnight but rather through education over generations.

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