Salango makes opioid crisis and saving rural hospitals a priority in gubernatorial bid

West Virginia

MARTINSBURG, W. Va. (WDVM) — Salango Knowles is not totally unfamiliar to the eastern panhandle having distinguished himself in a Berkeley County courtroom in a recent well-publicized trial in which he represented a young student subject to abuse in the Berkeley County school system.

But his day job now is Kanahwa County Commissioner. It is the state’s largest county and home to West Virginia’s capital city, Charleston.

Salango, was back in the eastern panhandle Tuesday in his bid to capture the Democratic nomination for governor in the May 12 primary. He is emphasizing the need for reform of opioid treatment programs. Right now, he says, care for addicts is based on the billing cycle and not the progress of the patient.

It is a perspective shared by Kevin Knowles, Development Director of the Mountaineer Recovery Center in Kearneysville. Knowles sees addicts who start with alcohol and progress to opioids, with a slow recovery process. But a big help is steady employment and a jumping off point coming out of recovery.

“We in the eastern panhandle are fortunate. We have employers eager to put people to work,” says Knowles. “Other part of the state, where coal mining is in decline, for example — they are not so fortunate.”

It’s a perspective which rings true with Salanago and his plan to make treatment programs more effective.

While working the eastern panhandle Salango is also touting a plan to rescue dying rural hospitals. He points to the Pennsylvania financing model which he says can work effectively in the Mountain State.

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