Prescription drug abuse has dominated news headlines across the state over the last several weeks and new cases are leading officials to believe that more and more cases will be filed against physicians in and around Eastern Kentucky. Officials on both the state and federal level have been busy over the last year in taking action against a number of medical professionals, both in and around Pike County.
One of the most complex and far-reaching pieces of legislation to pass in recent years is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal health-care reform law that, among other provisions, requires Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. But because of its complexity, journalists can shy away from delving into stories about it.
A Laurel County man has shared his story after contracting the West Nile Virus, which, though rare in Kentucky, has been more common nationwide this year than it has been since it was first discovered in 1999. Kelly Curens spent three weeks at the University of Kentucky medical center, much of which was spent in an induced coma. He started feeling sick after a camping trip at Lake Cumberland, reports Phil Penderton for WKYT-TV.
Health officials have zeroed in on a farm in southwestern Indiana responsible for at least some of the cantaloupe that were contaminated with salmonella, an outbreak that has sickened at least 50 Kentuckians and 178 people nationwide. It has also been associated with the death of two Kentuckians.
From victim to medical practitioners to law enforcement, one theme was clear Thursday night during a two-hour program about synthetic drugs in Bowling Green: Not enough is known about this relatively new menace to our children. Even with new local, state and federal laws enacted this year against synthetic drugs, those who make and those who market what might be called “7H,” “Mr. Happy,” “K2,” “K3,” “Wicked X,” “Happy Hour” or “Head Trip” – among many trade names – continue to create chemical combinations that can’t be detected by drug screens and can fly under the radar of vigilant parents.
Kids should brush their teeth twice a day for two whole minutes at a time, a new public-service campaign urges. The “Kids’ Healthy Mouths” campaign includes TV spots, print ads, a website, social media messages and other materials, reports Jennifer LaRue Huget for The Washington Post.
A major outbreak of West Nile virus, so far, has skipped the Commonwealth. Texas, meanwhile, has been impacted significantly. Since August, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture reports four cases of West Nile virus in horses and one confirmed case in a resident of Henry County. West Nile is spread by mosquitoes. So far, Martin Evans, who’s a professor of Infectious Diseases at UK, says Kentucky has been lucky.
Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul at Tuesday's Tea Party Rally in Frankfort.
Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio
Kentucky's two U.S. Senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, are some of the most vocal opponents of the Affordable Care Act. The two co-headlined a Tea Party rally in Frankfort yesterday to protest the health care law. During the rally, Paul said he wants to not only repeal the law, but replace it with a different one. Other Republicans have taken a similar stance, but the details behind the Republicans' preferred approach are largely unknown.
Dr. Kathy Nieder, with patient charts
(C-J photo by Michael Clevenger)
Dr. Alvarado's medical practice in Winchester has prescribed controlled substances to 1,800 patients in Central Kentucky over the past three years. But he and other doctors in the practice decided to put down their pens four weeks ago. That’s because, Mike Wynn of The Courier-Journal reports, "The standards imposed under a new Kentucky law designed to crack down on prescription drug abuse are so strict and complex that he would go bankrupt in a month -- or worse -- if he were to continue prescribing controlled substances."
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.
Kentuckians on Medicaid now have the opportunity to change healthcare providers for the first time in months. Open enrollment for all of the state except Louisville started today. It's the first time since Medicaid was privatized that residents can choose a new private operator to handle their care.
Kentucky has experienced a variety of weather conditions this summer. Far western Kentucky remains in the grip of summer long drought. But, after an early summer dry-spell, rain has returned to much of central and eastern Kentucky. State Climatologist Stuart Foster says his hometown of Bowling Green is living up to its name. “You can go from there where now it’s really no visual indication of drought to the traveler passing through and you can travel about a hundred miles to the west and to from what appears to be no drought to a very extreme drought situation and that’s pretty unusual,” said Foster.
Last week Kentucky got the kind of ranking you won't be seeing anybody brag about: A new government survey showed that 12 states, including our commonwealth, now have very high obesity rates. At least 30 percent of adults are obese in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. The figures came from a 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Kentucky has its first confirmed cases of flu for the year, and officials are urging residents to get their vaccinations. (WYMT-TV photo) The Department for Public Health reports six confirmed cases in Boyd County of the H3N2 strain, which is included in this year's flu vaccine. No cases of flu that contain genetic material from swine flu have been reported in Kentucky this year.
New research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows more than half of middle and high schools have purged the pop since the 2006-2007 school year. That year, 53.6 percent of high schools and 27.4 percent of middle schools gave students access to soda. In the 2010-2011 those numbers dropped to 25.3 in high schools and 12.5 percent in middle schools, reports Sarah Kliff for The Washington Post.
FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services has announced that Medicaid recipients in 104 Kentucky counties will have the opportunity to select coverage by a new managed care organization (MCO) during this year’s annual open enrollment period Aug. 20-Oct. 19.
FRANKFORT - The Department for Public Health today reported that cantaloupes tested in the state public health laboratory carry the same strain of Salmonella associated with a statewide outbreak that health officials say is still ongoing.
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.
Thousands of Kentuckians with HIV or AIDS could have access to more effective treatment because of health care reforms if advocates and providers inform state officials what's needed to make it work — now. "It's like building a plane while we are flying a plane," said Amy Killelea, senior manager for health care access for the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, a national advocacy group. Killelea spoke Wednesday, the second day of a two-day conference on AIDS and HIV that drew advocates and health providers from across Kentucky to Lexington.
The percentage of Kentucky adults who are obese is smaller than its was, but the state is still 10th in the country, according to a new, influential analysis by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report found 30.4 percent of Kentucky adults are obese, an improvement from last year's 31.5 percent and the state's sixth-place ranking. The numbers do not include the percentage of adults that are merely overweight.
Kentucky lawmakers are frustrated by the lack of information on the state’s incoming health insurance exchange. The exchange is required under the healthcare law, and will allow Kentuckians to compare and purchase insurance plans. At a meeting of the joint Health and Welfare committee, many lawmakers prodded members of the executive branch for details on the costs and operations of the exchange. But answers were lacking.
FRANKFORT – Visitors to the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville this month can get information to help their families’ health and well-being through free screenings and educational activities at the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services exhibit. The interactive display, which will be located in the Health Horizons section of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center’s South Wing B, features a chance to speak one on one with health educators and learn more about family services.
With cases of swine flu popping up in adjoining states to the north, officials are taking precautions to prevent the disease from spreading at the Kentucky State Fair's Swine Pavilion. The fair starts Thursday. The state veterinarian staff will be inspecting all swine — between 650 and 675 pigs — and looking for signs of flu, which includes coughing, sneezing and labored breathing. Animals showing symptoms will be evaluated and tested for the disease. Exhibitors coming from out of state must show a certificate of veterinary inspection with 72 hours of arrival, The Courier-Journal reports. Fairgoers are encouraged to wash their hands frequently.
Some doctors in Kentucky fear they may face criminal charges or penalties for legitimate prescriptions and clerical errors under the new law designed to curb prescription drug abuse. Lawmakers will review the regulations to House Bill 1 passed this year to crack down on illegal pill mills and will have a hearing Wednesday in Frankfort to get input from the medical industry. While the law is intended to target corrupt doctors, many in the medical community say the extensive standards for controlled substances will make it much harder for patients in need of prescription pain medication to get their medicine.
This time of year can be a peak period for mosquitoes. But, environmental health officials in Lexington are not seeing big problems so far. Aside from the nuisance of itchy bites, mosquitoes can carry serious diseases. When the West Nile virus came on the scene several years ago, Luke Mathias with the Fayette County Health Department says his office received a flood of calls. He says now the calls register about 25 a month.
Papa John's found and CEO John Schnatter.
Papa John's CEO John Schnatter did more than put the Affordable Care Act under the microscope this week, he threw it in a hot oven, saying the law will increase the price of a pizza by 11 to 14 cents. But an editorial in The Courier-Journal arguesall Schatter did was prove the law's value.
Kentucky was ranked first in the country for power plant pollution, with the state's emissions growing by 27 percent — or 10 million pounds — in 2009 and 2010, a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found. While Kentucky's emissions have gone up, the rest of the country saw a 19 percent decrease, NRDC said.
With students and teachers returning, school food-service directors are working to implement the new federal school lunch regulations that take effect this year. This would be a good story for local news media, since it affects almost every student. As school resumes, another school food program is up for debate. Congress is deciding whether frozen, canned and dried produce should be included in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
Overworked nurses dealing with heavy patient loads are associated with increases in hospital-acquired infections, say researchers with the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
Centers for Disease Control officials in Atlanta say 29 human cases of the new strain of the H3N2 swine flu have been confirmed in the last year, including 12 last week. Ten of the new cases were linked to the Butler County Fair in southwest Ohio. Butler County is just north of Cincinnati's Hamilton County. The fair ended last weekend. None of the cases have been tied to human-to-human transmission and all 12 of the new patients had close contact with swine prior to getting sick. The two other new cases occurred in Hawaii and Indiana. (CBS News photo)