Health and Welfare

State Health Officials Declare Flu Epidemic

Jan 24, 2018
Stu Johnson

State health officials are now describing flu activity across Kentucky as an epidemic.  The Commonwealth is in its sixth consecutive week of widespread influenza cases.

Stu Johnson

A statewide coalition seeking to see at least a dollar increase in the state cigarette tax is stressing the health problems associated with smoking during pregnancy.  A leader in the effort still believes the proposed tax hike could get a vote in the current legislative session.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee is recommending Kentucky’s cigarette tax increase by at least one dollar. That action came following a hearing on the proposal brought by health and business advocates.

Cancer center directors from both the University of Kentucky and university of Louisville and a representative from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce made their case for raising the cigarette tax.  In addition to individual health benefits, lowering workforce absences are also cited by proponents. 

Flu Cases Remain Widespread Across Kentucky

Jan 12, 2018

Kentucky health officials are reporting two children are among the 36 flu related deaths this influenza season.  The average age for the remainder of Kentuckians who died from flu related complications is 75.  

State Epidemiologist Jonathan Ballard says flu shots remain a priority recommendation.  He says it’s been particularly affective in protecting against influenza type B. “Even if the flu vaccine is not as effective for influenza A that we’re seeing at the current time, it may very well help anyone get influenza B at the end of the flu season,” said Ballard.

Three Flu Related Deaths Reported in Lexington

Dec 29, 2017

Lexington has experienced three flu related deaths so far during the current influenza season.  Two of the deaths occurred Thursday.

Fayette County Health Department Communications Officer Kevin Hall says in all three cases the elderly patients had underlying health conditions. “This doesn’t mean that the people died from the flu.  It’s almost better to think of it as they had the flu at the time of their death, and the flu complicates the other underlying conditions that they have,” said Hall.


Lexington Activates Homelessness Weather Plan

Dec 26, 2017
weku file photo

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government is activating its plan to help the homeless stay safe as temperatures drop.   It becomes effective when the temperature falls below 32 degrees and includes expanded shelter services and free transportation to get out of the cold. 

Laura Carr is development director with the Lexington Rescue Mission.  “Really just trying to make sure that people know that there is shelter available to them.  There’s no shortage of shelter beds in Lexington,” said Carr.  “There’s no reason for anyone to be sleeping outside if they don’t want to.”

The chair of Kentucky’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee envisions the fast approaching general assembly session as an opportunity to change in the state’s tobacco product policies. Additional taxes on cigarettes is one possibility.

Food banks in Lexington and Elizabethtown will receive some surplus food from the federal government. God’s Pantry and Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland are expected to receive more than 314,000 meal kits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles helped spread the word today with a stop in Winchester. “And these kit were originally going to families who more than likely suffered disaster or disaster relief, so each box contains a variety of food that would make up several meals with a lot of variety in it,” said Quarles.

The head of a Kentucky child advocacy organization sees lots to like in a just released report on ways to improve foster care and adoption. The panel from the House of Representatives offered its suggestions Tuesday.

Kentucky Youth Advocates Director Terry Brooks believes the panel’s recommendations could be an agenda for action rather than just another study left on a shelf. 

Brooks says it focuses on upfront prevention and substance abuse treatment. It also explores improving working conditions for social workers including better pay.

Kentucky's Health Ranking Shows Slight Uptick

Dec 13, 2017

Kentucky has made some progress in improving the health of its citizens.  The proof is found in some recent national ratings.

Stu Johnson

Sunday will be moving day for 53 cancer patients at the University of Kentucky’s Markey Center as they relocate to a newly opened floor in the hospital. 

Patient Sarah Lister shared her experience at the center Friday morning during the official unveiling.

The Garrard County Animal Shelter is coping with an unusually large influx of dogs and cats. It’s the result of a hoarding case involving 23 animals.

Dogs Quarantined at Lexington Humane Society

Dec 6, 2017
Stu Johnson

Workers at the Lexington Humane Society are continuing with intense cleaning this week.  The animal shelter is closed under a 14 day quarantine of its dogs.

Two dogs succumbed to an aggressive bacterial infection and that led  to the closure.  Senior Manager of Donor Relations Ashley Hammond says everything at the adoption center is being scrubbed.  She says for the time being, strays should be taken to Masterson Station Park.

State Health Officials Warn of Hepatitis A Outbreak

Nov 22, 2017

State public health officials continue to warn Kentuckians about a Hepatitis A outbreak. 

The majority of the 32 cases are found in and around the Louisville area.  The homeless are particularly vulnerable to this viral disease.

A new survey of the health behavior of Kentucky youth is showing some positive signs, especially regarding tobacco use.

A representative of The Kentucky Alzheimer’s Association says the Commonwealth is making history with a new vehicle license plate.  

The Bluegrass state is the first in the country to make the Alzheimer's-related specialty plate available.

For the first time, firefighters in Lexington worked this past weekend focused on a specific neighborhood to place smoke alarms in homes. 

Some 40 firefighters and volunteers entered 188 homes in Cardinal Valley Saturday and installed 762 alarms.

Stu Johnson

The Lexington-Fayette government is joining 34 other Kentucky counties in suing close to two dozen wholesale drug distributors and manufacturers. 

Mayor Jim Gray announced the opioid-related federal lawsuit Thursday.

John Hingsbergen

The city of Georgetown held its second annual LGBTQ Pride over the weekend. The Saturday event went smoothly despite challenging weather and an apparent threat against a lesbian couple in the community of about 33,000.          

Ohio Valley reSource

The Trump administration’s announcement Thursday that the opioid crisis is a national public health emergency was not news to first responders in Madison County.

Stu Johnson

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is once again offering free Naloxone kits. 

The first official distribution of the drug used to reverse opioid overdoses is scheduled for this Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

John Hingsbergen

Kentucky’s Capital City hosted its first-ever LGBTQ Pride festival this past weekend. Organizers and Frankfort city officials say the event exceeded their expectations.  

Association health plans that sell limited-coverage health insurance are back, under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump Thursday. Trump — as well as Kentucky’s two U.S. senators — touted the order as one that will allow Americans to access more affordable health care policies, but critics say the executive order could create more problems in the U.S. health care system.

An advocate of mental health awareness and treatment says diseases of the mind are often incremental in nature. 

A number of activities today focus on mental health awareness.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is sounding the alarm about new in-vehicle infotainment technology and its role in distracted driving collisions.  
A Kentucky State Police official anticipates more lock-out features in future vehicles.

Kick It Kentucky Week Promotes Smoking Cessation

Sep 28, 2017
Stu Johnson

More than two dozen health organizations are promoting the physical benefits found soon after quitting smoking. 

They did so Wednesday in announcing the first Kick It, Kentucky week.

Stu Johnson

Participants at Monday’s Health Policy Forum in Lexington heard a message about combating opioid addiction from journalist Sam Quinones. 

The Los Angeles Times reporter, spent ten years doing freelance work in Mexico.

Stu Johnson

County and city officials across the state are being urged to take part in a friendly competition designed to help reduce food insecurity among some Kentucky's families.

Barr Unveils Bill to Address Military Sexual Trauma

Sep 22, 2017
Stu Johnson

Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr sees a proposed federal pilot program as a step to provide better care for military veterans who have suffered sexual assault while in service. 

The Republican representative detailed the Military Sexual Assault Victim Empowerment Act in Frankfort Friday.

For more than 20 years emergency preparedness exercises have been held in and around the Blue Grass Army Depot. 

Wednesday’s drill comes as officials continue to ramp up for demilitarization of chemical weapons stored in Madison County.