Health and Welfare

Ky. Sudden Infant Deaths Exceed National Average

Oct 18, 2016
Safe Sleep Kentucky

Every five days a Kentucky infant dies from a sudden unexplained death. That’s according to the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention, The Fayette Health Department hosted a training program last week on risk factors and investigative practices.

Participants working in the coroner’s office, law enforcement, child welfare, and public health got briefed on sudden infant death issues. 

Stu Johnson

Kentucky lawmakers will be asked in 2017 to consider additional measures to combat the state’s significant heroin-related drug problem.  Details came Friday afternoon at a news conference at Lexington City Hall.

Many Kentucky communities have seen numerous overdose deaths related to Fentanyl-laced opioids.  Legislation pre-filed before the coming session seeks to amend the state’s drug laws to create penalties for dealers of Fentanyl, Carfentanil, and other designer drugs.

Kentucky Emergency Management workers are responding to calls for assistance from states affected by Hurricane Matthew, specifically Florida and South Carolina. 

The states asked for a volunteer coordinator, public information officers, water rescue teams, and incident management teams. 

The Emergency Management Assistance Compact is a state-to-state mutual agreement that allows officials to request additional disaster response resources and personnel. ​

For the first time in more than a decade, there’s a confirmed West Nile virus case in the Lexington area. Health officials remind central Kentuckians complications from West Nile are rare.


West Nile, like zika, is an illness spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.  Unlike zika though, the risk of a serious health complication is relatively low. 


With West Nile, less than 1% of infected people develop a serious neurologic illness.  Mild symptoms are possible including fever, headache, tiredness, and nausea.  


Ky. Youth Smoking Rate Hits Historic Low

Sep 28, 2016

Smoking among Kentucky youth is at a historic low.  It’s noted in data from the 2015 Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The figures show just under 17 percent of Kentucky high school students smoke, down from just over 26 percent a decade ago. 

Homeland Security Grants Going to 74 Ky. Counties

Sep 28, 2016

The state Office of Homeland Security will administer federal grants totaling nearly $3 million in 74 Kentucky counties. The money will be used for communications and first responder equipment plus infrastructure protection

Zika Case in Lexington Prompts Increased Spraying

Sep 27, 2016

While Lexington health officials remain unconcerned about local transmission of the virus this fall, the city’s first confirmed Zika case has prompted additional Health Department mosquito spraying in one area of town.

The Lexington case involves a person who contracted the Zika virus in another country.  Environmental Health specialist Luke Mathias says a special spraying in the 40502 zip code was done where the infected person has been known to stay.  He says the aim is to reduce the chance of a mosquito biting the person and spreading the virus. 

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Observed

Sep 26, 2016

Monday marks the final week of this year’s ‘Turn the Town Teal’ ovarian cancer awareness month.  The teal green ribbons are positioned in downtown Lexington as well as on the University of Kentucky campus and certain businesses. 

Radcliff Veterans Home Gearing Up for Opening

Sep 25, 2016

The new Radcliff Veterans Center is staffing up in preparation for admitting residents in the next few months.The long-term care center already has a waiting list of veterans who would like to move into the facility.

Ten Counties Participate in Chemical Disaster Drill

Sep 21, 2016

Officials at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Wednesday, staged a simulated chemical accident.  It was part of the annual exercise which involved emergency response officials in ten Kentucky Counties.

The yearly exercise takes on added significance as preparations continue for neutralization of chemical agents stored at the Madison County army installation.  While disposal of nerve agent is not scheduled to start until 2020, work to destroy mustard agent is set to start next year. 

Attorney General Loretta Lynch Visits Kentucky Amid Heroin Surge

Sep 20, 2016

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch warned high school students about the dangers of heroin and opioid abuse at an assembly in Richmond on Tuesday.

The visit was part of an Obama administration initiative to educate people about heroin and prescription painkiller abuse.

Lynch is the nation’s top law enforcement official, but she said the heroin and opioid problem isn’t just a law enforcement crisis, it’s a moral one.

Early Start for Flu Shots in Lexington

Sep 20, 2016

With Fayette County’s first confirmed flu case of the season in the books, the Lexington Health Department is offering flu shots ahead of the typical schedule.  

Health Department Spokesman Kevin Hall says vaccines will be administered between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. this Wednesday.  He says this isn’t a time of year most people think about getting a flu shot.  “It’s almost 90 degrees outside here the last few days, so it’s not something you think of.  Flu is a fall and winter illness,” said Hall.  “But, it’s definitely here and it’s not too early to get a flu shot.”

Forum Focuses on Health as Economic Driver

Sep 19, 2016
Stu Johnson

Health advocates are stressing the importance of a healthy community as a way to help spur on economic growth.  That connection was discussed at a health policy forum in Lexington Monday.

Lexington Needle Exchange May Expand

Sep 14, 2016

Lexington new health commissioner gave an update on the status of the city's needle exchange program Tuesday.

Dr. Kraig Humbaugh told council members that just over 20,000 used needles had been brought in and more than 21,000 clean needles were given out.  Since the first needle exchange on September 4, 2015, 376 clients have made over 1000 visits. 

Stu Johnson

A woman with 35 years of experience evaluating and treating adult sex offenders is leading training sessions throughout Kentucky.  One such program attracted well over 100 people Monday in Lexington.

Cory Jewell Jensen is with the Center for Behavioral Intervention in Oregon.  She spoke to those working in areas like law enforcement, school counseling, nursing and child protective services.

In light of a recent rash of overdose – related deaths, Kentucky public health officials say they can't predict drug overdose activity across Kentucky.  But they have gained some insights about heroin use from voluntary reporting by medical partners.  Preliminary reports to the Department of Public Health show 15 overdoses, 12 of them fatal, from noon last Friday until Monday morning. 

Fire Safety Month Focuses on Off-Campus Housing

Sep 7, 2016

September is being observed as Campus Fire Safety Month as Kentucky joins with states across the nation in focusing on the issue.

Kentucky's attorney general is accusing a medical company of Medicaid fraud for allegedly promoting a kidney dialysis product it knew was harmful to patients. 

Attorney General Andy Beshear says his lawsuit seeks damages and civil penalties from Fresenius Medical Care Holdings Inc. The suit also seeks to restore Medicaid funds that paid for dialysis treatments using the product.

He says Fresenius is the nation's largest provider of kidney dialysis and renal care products, treatment and services.

Linda Blackford - Lexington Herald-Leader

A senior investigator at Lexington’s Sanders Brown Center on Aging is optimistic about the availability of a breakthrough drug to fight Alzheimer’s disease in the not too distant future.  

Greg Jicha participated in Thursday’s funding announcement at the University of Kentucky.  The Center on Aging has been awarded an $8 million five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health.  

Airport Safety Revisited After Flight 5191 Crash

Aug 29, 2016

    The weekend remembrance of the crash of Comair 5191 a decade ago offers an opportunity to reflect on safety improvements at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport.  Revised safety measures include airstrip and communication changes.

Just after 6:00 a.m. on August 27th, 2006 the Comair plane took off from the wrong runway, crashing and killing 49 of the 50 occupants.  In addition to concerns about pavement markings and runway crossings, communications were also cited as factors. 

Ky. Officials Respond to Spike in Heroin Overdoses

Aug 26, 2016


Health and law enforcement officials in Kentucky are responding to a rash of heroin-related drug overdoses.   In the community of Mount Sterling alone, there were 12 overdoses this week including one death.  

The majority of overdoses in Montgomery County occurred within five hours Wednesday evening.

A new director has been named for the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s Enforcement Division.  Paul Joseph Vido comes to the job after serving as Special Agent in Charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives out of Louisville. 

Vido administered all ATF investigations and regulatory operations in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Southern Indiana.  Prior to coming to Kentucky, he served in a similar role in California. 

Bevin Submits Revised Ky. HEALTH Plan

Aug 24, 2016

 Gov. Matt Bevin says he has changed his proposal to overhaul the state's Medicaid program and submitted it to the federal government for approval.

The new proposal called Kentucky HEALTH (Helping to Engage and Achieve Long Term Health) will cover allergy testing and private duty nursing for about 400,000 Kentuckians who have health insurance through the state's expanded Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Lexington Seeing Drop in DUI Arrests

Aug 24, 2016

Fayette County has experienced a steady drop in the number of driving under the influence arrests over the past five years.  In 2012, there were 1542 DUI arrests compared with 1040 last year.   Lexington Police Sargent Randall Combs believes online transportation services and designated drivers are factors.  “I think a large part of that can be attributed to people using Uber and some of the cab services and just making better decisions and having designated drivers,”

By AxelBoldt (talk · contribs) - Own work, Public Domain,

Kentucky is among five states that are again suing the Obama administration over its efforts to strengthen discrimination protections for transgender people.   

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in a North Texas federal court. It seeks to block parts of a nondiscrimination mandate of President Barack Obama's health care law.

Opponents of the president’s order say the rules could force doctors to act against their medical judgments or religious convictions.

State Roaming Horse Task Force Begins Work

Aug 23, 2016


A newly-formed state task force begins its work Tuesday on how to deal with hundreds of horses moving about Eastern Kentucky.  Part of the discussion involves the coal industry.

The Free Roaming Horse Task Force came about through state legislation.  Ginny Grulke, with the Appalachian Horse Center, says the largest concentration of horse herds is found in Breathitt County, but there are also hundreds in another nine or ten counties. 

Ride Inspectors Busy Before State Fair

Aug 12, 2016


The Kentucky State Fair is set to open one week from today (next Thursday).  Two tragic amusement ride related incidents in Kansas and Tennessee are causing increased attention to public safety.

Pipe Art Project in Lexington Park Tracks Groundwater

Aug 2, 2016
Stu Johnson-WEKU News


Bright fluorescent green pipes in Lexington’s Jacobson Park signal a new interactive art project.  It’s an auditory experience.

Graduation Focuses on Fostering Sucess

Aug 2, 2016


The State Department of Community Based Services has held its first Fostering Success graduation.  The pilot program focuses on helping foster children as they leave the system.

Federal Review Request of Flood Damaged Counties

Aug 2, 2016

   Kentucky officials are calling for a federal review of areas in the Commonwealth damaged by July flooding and severe storms. The storms that occurred in early July left a large impact on almost two dozen Kentucky counties.

The level of damages that occurred from July 3rd through the 9th  warranted a joint assessment from both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Kentucky Emergency Management.

Twenty-three counties all across the Commonwealth, including Clay, Lawrence, McCracken, and Union all incurred damages from the severe storm system.