Valarie Honeycutt Spears, Lexington Herald-Leader

Pablo Alcala / Lexington Herald Leader

After months of refusing to release mortality rates for its troubled pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program, the University of Kentucky reversed course Friday and issued a statement disclosing the numbers. UK Healthcare CEO Michael Karpf said the program had an overall mortality rate of 5.8 percent from 2008 to 2012. During that period, annual mortality rates ranged from 4.5 percent to 7.1 percent, Karpf said in a statement. "These ranges are comparable to national mortality rates averaging 5.3 percent for programs of similar size to ours," Karpf said. More than 500 people have signed an online petition in the last week urging UK to release information about how many children died after undergoing heart surgery at Kentucky Children's Hospital.  Read more.

Kentucky's public school districts are gearing up for a new state regulation that specifies how and when educators can restrain or isolate students who are unruly. The regulation, which went into effect Feb. 1, allows students to be physically restrained — preventing students from moving torso, arms, legs or head — or placed in a secluded area away from classmates only to protect them from hurting themselves or others. It also bans the use of physical restraint or seclusion as student punishment. Students can be restrained for intentionally destroying property. Advocates have been calling for such rules for years.

Their lives are delineated by a great divide: Before the tornado, and after the tornado. Yet survivors of the storms that tore through Eastern and Southern Kentucky on March 2, 2012, causing 25 deaths and millions of dollars in damages, have refused to allow personal tragedies to define their lives. They remember, but they move on. They grieve, but they live. Here are the stories of some survivors, one year after their lives were turned upside down.

A Fayette County judge will go to Frankfort on Tuesday to tell state lawmakers they should overhaul Kentucky's "outdated" child-support guidelines. Legislation, scheduled for a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, is aimed at updating the guidelines, which reflect child-rearing costs in the 1980s.

An $80 million project will widen parts of New Circle Road in northwest Lexington and create a double-crossover diamond at Leestown Road. Those changes are part of a project that would alter some of Lexington's major arteries to "reduce traffic congestion and operational deficiencies on New Circle Road" and its interchanges, said Rob Sprague, design section supervisor for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Sprague said the project is expected to begin in the fall of 2013 and continue through the summer of 2016.

A Carlisle nursing home has been placed on the federal government's list of troubled nursing homes in the United States. Johnson Mathers Nursing Home was placed on the federal list based on "poor compliance history over the past three years," Beth Fisher, a spokeswoman for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said Monday. Among the problems at Johnson Mathers Nursing Home is a 2010 death that has been under review by the Kentucky Attorney General office.

Kentucky's largest health care system on Thursday said it is terminating contracts at all its facilities with Medicaid managed care provider Coventry Cares. KentuckyOne Health — which formed earlier this year to operate Saint Joseph Health System and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare — said the terminations will be effective Nov. 1 for Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare and Dec. 1 for Saint Joseph Health System.

Kentucky is among the bottom 20 states for overall child well-being, ranking 35th, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2012 Kids Count Data Book. The report, released Wednesday, shows that children in Kentucky suffer from financial instability but fare better in the areas of education and health.

Later this year, a new task force that includes lawmakers, educators and athletic officials will study the lack of regulation of middle school sports and offer recommendations for the 2013 General Assembly. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association oversees high school athletics, including coach education, health and safety rules, and regulations over play. But there is no such oversight for middle school sports.

One of the state's Medicaid managed-care companies has told Baptist Healthcare System that it wants to renegotiate its contract with the chain, which has hospitals in Lexington, Louisville, La Grange, Paducah and Corbin. Coventry Cares notified Baptist Healthcare System on Friday that it wanted to renegotiate, said Ruth Ann Childers, a spokeswoman for Baptist. If an agreement cannot be reached by Nov. 1, when the current contract expires, Coventry has told the health care system that it would allow the contract to expire, Childers said.

A hospital chain serving Eastern Kentucky is seeking an emergency order to avoid disruptions to patients and widespread layoffs it says will occur in the state's poorest region unless a judge intervenes. Attorneys for Appalachian Regional Healthcare on Tuesday asked a federal judge to issue an injunction ordering Coventry Cares to let its members continue to receive services through the hospital chain. Coventry Cares is one of three companies approved by the state to provide managed-care services to poor, disabled and elderly people throughout most of the state under Medicaid. Coventry said it would cancel its contract with ARH after Friday.

Despite promises of transparency by Gov. Steve Beshear, state officials are refusing to release child-protection records about a man who was convicted of beating his 3-month-old son prior to the mysterious deaths of his two infant daughters. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services won’t release records about Jesse Allison, who is charged in Caldwell County, in Western Kentucky, with murder in the 2009 asphyxiation death of his 7-monthold daughter Ariel.

When a raucous celebration followed the University of Kentucky's NCAA championship Monday night, people around the world were using technology to listen to Lexington police scanner traffic. Simultaneously, many commented on Twitter about what they heard, including reports of fires being set, revelers confronting police, a shooting, a dispatcher "with the voice of a goddess" and two men who were naked in public.

Child advocates are praising the General Assembly's passage of a handful of key bills aimed at making life better for Kentucky's vulnerable children. Terry Brooks, executive director of the non-profit Kentucky Youth Advocates, said Monday that he was pinching himself because so many pieces of legislation that could improve the lives of children were approved this session. "We think there were some really big wins for kids," Brooks said.

Last year, a resident of a Western Kentucky nursing home contracted a potentially life-threatening gum infection because the staff never realized the person wore dentures and hadn't removed them for six months, according to a state citation. Some officials said the incident is reflective of a long standing problem in many nursing homes: The staff tends to ignore the oral health of residents. But a House Health and Welfare committee on Thursday unanimously passed a bill that would require the state to implement a program to find a solution.

Chelsea Hoover told state lawmakers on Wednesday that when her years of being a Kentucky foster child ended, social workers did not give her enough information about programs that could ease her transition into adulthood. After hearing from Hoover, the Senate Health and Welfare committee unanimously passed a bill that requires state social workers to give foster children specific information and support when they are 17 ½ . The bill also gives them extra time to decide whether they want to extend their commitment to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Tornado Traveled More Than 90 Miles

Mar 6, 2012
Kent Nickell

A killer tornado probably traveled more than 90 miles as it shredded houses and toppled trees in a path that stretched 60 miles through Kentucky and more than 30 miles into West Virginia, according to the National Weather Service. The tornado started in Menifee County, then ripped through Morgan County, the northern tip of Johnson County and Lawrence County before crossing into West Virginia, said Shawn Harley, chief meteorologist for the Jackson office of the weather service.

Doctor Suspended After Raid

Feb 17, 2012
Lexington Herald-Leader

The doctor at a Lexington pain clinic that was raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration had little formal training in pain management or primary care, yet he was paid $7,500 a week to write prescriptions for powerful narcotic painkillers, according to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. Documents detailing the medical board's allegations were provided to the Herald-Leader on Thursday, after the medical board voted in Louisville to suspend the license of Dr. Najam Azmat, who was prescribing drugs at Lexington Algiatry, a pain clinic on Alexandria Drive. The DEA raided the clinic Wednesday.

Investigators Raid Pain Clinic

Feb 16, 2012
Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader

A Lexington pain clinic that previously generated multiple complaints from physicians and nearby residents and businesses was raided Wednesday morning by police and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration. At 10:30 a.m., about 20 plainclothes officers from the DEA, state police and Lexington police went inside Lexington Algiatry on Alexandria Drive.

A McCreary County couple have filed a $6.5 million lawsuit against Kraft Foods alleging the husband sustained a perforated bowel and peritonitis from a piece of metal he ingested when he ate microwavable Velveeta Shells & Cheese. Leamon Perkins of Pine Knot underwent surgery Sept. 29, one day before Kraft Foods Global recalled the microwavable dish, according to the complaint in U.S. District Court in London filed Jan. 11. The voluntary recall was due to the possible presence of small, thin pieces of wire bristle, according to Kraft officials.

Most of the men living on a campus of three aging homes off Versailles Road have mental illness or developmental disabilities. "I get the ones that nobody else wants," said owner Ralph Messner. He says he runs a good home and often works more than 65 hours a week to meet the needs of the residents. But Kentucky officials have been investigating allegations of poor living conditions and have expressed a concern about the lack of government oversight at the homes for at least the second time since 1996.

Most of the men living on a campus of three aging homes off Versailles Road have mental illness or developmental disabilities. "I get the ones that nobody else wants," said owner Ralph Messner. He says he runs a good home and often works more than 65 hours a week to meet the needs of the residents. But Kentucky officials have been investigating allegations of poor living conditions and have expressed a concern about the lack of government oversight at the homes for at least the second time since 1996.

When a little boy reportedly fell off the deck of a house in Lincoln County in July 2009 and hit his head, his mother and her boyfriend were drunk, according to a report by a state child-protection worker. There was no food in the filthy house, but there were pill bottles, beer cans and needles lying around, and blood on the child's bed. The case points to a troubling reality: When children are abused or neglected in Kentucky, substance abuse often plays a role. A Lexington Herald-Leader review of files released this week on children killed or nearly killed because of abuse or neglect over a two-year period found that more than half mentioned suspected or confirmed substance abuse by parents or caregivers.