Water quality continues to trouble several streams in Fayette and Scott counties. The state is taking public comment through early September. Portions of seven streams in two central Kentucky counties flow into the Cane Run Watershed. And, Eric Liebenauer with the State Division of Water, says people should avoid all seven. “All of them are impaired for what’s called primary contact recreation, which is basically full body immersion. In layman’s terms, we think of that as swimming,” said Liebenauer.
Backers of an effort to ban smoking in all public places in Kentucky took their message on the road this week in hopes of getting legislation passed in the 2013 legislation session. The Smoke Free Kentucky Coalition swept through the state's largest cities to gather support for a final punch to be delivered at the annual Fancy Farm political picnic in Graves County Saturday.
A more tamper resistant driver’s license will start popping up in wallets across Kentucky. The new dual side laminated card includes a digital watermark, hologram, and very fine print. State Driver’s Licensing Director Bill Heise says the installation of new cameras and computer equipment will prompt a one-day interruption in the processing of driver’s licenses. “We will maximize that time in providing training and swapping out equipment. And then, they will be available to open up to the public the following morning,” said Heise.
August is here and it may be time for a flu shot. Public health officials say it’s not too early for protection against influenza. Two workers at a Lexington pharmacy this week erected a ‘Get your flu shot here’ sign in the parking lot. Getting a flu shot once meant an early-autumn trip to a doctor’s office or a pharmacy. But ,State Epidemiologist Craig Humbaugh says the earlier, the better. “It’s really never too early to get an annual flu shot, so we recommend that, as soon as flu shots are available and people are able to get em, this is a great time for folks to start getting their annual flu vaccination,” said Humbaugh.
The Kentucky Standard's Randy Patrick deftly shows how the federal health-care reform law is having an effect at the individual level by telling the story of Bonnie Varnell, a Nelson County resident who is uninsured and is more than $65,000 in debt due to her fight against cancer.
It’s ironic how pills designed to heal can be pills that kill. Prescription drug abuse kills more of Kentucky’s teenagers than auto accidents. Efforts to reduce those fatalities are underway within law enforcement, the medical community, and the victims of abuse. 57 year old Kathy Bell of Lexington has been treated for prescription drug abuse for four years at the University of Kentucky. Her addiction began by free basing cocaine in her western Kentucky hometown. Later, Bell was prescribed medication for pain. Over the next 20 years, she abused both cocaine and pills. Her physical health came to depend on her abuse of prescription drugs. “If I went to bed at night and did not have a pill for the next morning, I couldn’t function. Non-functional. I would get diarrhea and I just couldn’t function,” said Bell.
Repair work on dams along the Kentucky River should fix leaks and ensure stability, but there should be no significant increase in the region’s supply of water. David Hamilton with the Kentucky River Authority says dams three and nine have been rebuilt with plans to rework dams eight and ten later on. “Those plans don’t call for raising of the dams at this point. They are designed so in the future they would have the stability to accommodate a raise. At this point, there is no raise incorporated into those designs,” said Hamilton.
Advocates of a statewide smoking ban are taking their issue on a five day tour before Fancy Farm to drum up support. The Smoke Free Kentucky Coalition has pushed a statewide smoking ban law in the General Assembly for the last two years. And they are making next year’s legislative session a key moment in their fight. Coalition coordinator Betsy Janes says with Fancy Farm’s big role as a political event, a road tour and outreach at the picnic seemed logical for the group.
It's not often that such detailed data is broken down to the county level, but a new report looks at the economic impact of the local health-care system in each of Kentucky's 120 counties. The reports, compiled at the University of Kentucky, look at the number of health-care jobs, as well as the revenue and income generated by the local health-care system. In many rural counties, the authors note, health care is the second largest industry, second only to local government.
Pertussis, more commonly known as ‘whooping cough,’ continues to show up at doctors’ offices across Kentucky. It could be a record setting year in the Commonwealth…Five years ago, in 2007, State epidemiologist Craig Humbaugh says there were fewer than 50 whooping cough cases in Kentucky. Just over six months into 2012, Humbaugh says the number of cases exceeds 170
Bath salts, which mimic the effects of drugs like cocaine
and speed. The Patriot-News photo by Chris Knight.
Though legislators across the country, including Kentucky, have passed laws to ban synthetic drugs like bath salts, there are so many new formulations of the substances the states can't keep up. Experts estimate there are more than 100 types of bath-salt chemicals. "The moment you start to regulate one of them, they'll come out with a variant that sometimes is even more potent," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
A new report from the national health organization Families USA is praising the ability of almost 1 million Kentuckians to buy insurance in the coming years despite their pre-existing conditions. The report says almost 1 million Kentuckians who have previously been denied insurance coverage may get it when that part of the Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014.
Just days after new legislation has taken effect to combat prescription drug abuse, four pain clinics in Kentucky say they will close, Gov. Steve Beshear announced today. "The word is out. Kentucky is deadly serious about stopping this scourge of prescription drug abuse and now we have some of the strongest tools in the country to make that happen," the governor said, adding that nine other pain-management clinics have not applied for licenses and will be investigated.
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.
State and national health officials are predicting a record number of whooping cough cases this year and are urging vaccination against the highly contagious disease, especially for pregnant women and small children. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a contagious disease caused by bacteria. It is spread by respiratory droplets transmitted person to person among those who are in close contact with one another. Nationwide, nine children have died of the disease so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
State officials say a bipartisan measure passed by the General Assembly this spring is making an impact on the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. The legislation known as House Bill 1 established tougher regulations of clinics that prescribe controlled substances such as Oxycontin and other pain killers. Governor Steve Beshear announced Tuesday that entrepreneurs are already taking notice.
Prescription pain killers are sometimes the first choice of drug abusers. Other times, an addiction to popular hard drugs leads to prescription drug abuse. After recovering from years of addition, a Lexington woman says she went free basing cocaine to prescription pain killers. Kathy Bell says she used cocaine, prescription drugs, or both together. Bell says attaining prescription pills was accomplished in many ways. “I got involved with this clique of people that either sold theirs, or traded theirs, or they wanted something I had, and that’s the way I played my addiction back and forth,” said Bell.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear recently signed an executive order to create an insurance exchange for Kentucky. Under the Affordable Care Act, states must create marketplaces in which residents can purchase insurance, or else the federal government will do so for them.
Now that Gov. Steve Beshear has issued the order to create a state health insurance exchange, the state is scheduling public forums to explain it. Rachel Klein, the executive director of Enroll America,said 78 percent of uninsured Americans "have no idea that there is new health coverage coming."
A new report out today provides new information about the connections between commonly-used chemicals and the prevalence of diseases. Groups that advocate for safer chemicals are using the data to lobby for updates to federal legislation.
When hospitals start getting paid based on the perceived quality of care they provide to their Medicare and Medicaid patients, so-called "safety net" hospitals, a last resort for the poor, could be the losers in the equation. That's because a main way of measuring quality will be patient experience ratings, and safety-net hospitals tend to get poorer marks from patients, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Physical inactivity is such a problem worldwide it has become as deadly as smoking, a series of studies has found. Lack of exercise causes about one in 10 premature deaths worldwide, in large part because it contributes to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer.
Nationwide, the rates of infants who die, babies who are born prematurely, teens who are having babies, and the percentage of young children who live in a home where someone smokes have all decreased in the last five years. But the percentage of kids who live in poverty has gone up.
Gov. Steve Beshear said today that he would expand Kentucky's Medicaid program under the federal health-reform law if the state can afford the cost. "If there is a way that we can afford that will get more coverage for more Kentuckians, I'm for it, because if we've got a healthier Kentucky, we're all better off. Our economy's better off, and of course the individuals are better off," Beshear told Jack Pattie of WVLK Radio in an interview on Pattie's mid-morning show.
As Gov. Steve Beshear issued an executive order to establish a state insurance exchange this afternoon, lawmakers voted along party lines against a lease that would have housed employees of the exchange, once again illustrating the divisive nature of the controversial Affordable Care Act. Members of the Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee voted 4-3 against the nearly $300,00-per-year lease, with Sen. Tom Buford of Nicholasville, Sen. Jared Carpenter of Berea, Rep. Steven Rudy of Paducah— all Republicans — voting no, along with Independent Sen. Bob Leeper of Paducah.
Governor Steve Beshear has followed through on his promise to set up a state-run health insurance exchange in Kentucky. The Affordable Care Act requires states to set up marketplaces in which residents can buy private insurance or sign up for Medicaid. Through an executive order, Beshear created Kentucky's exchange today. The order establishes a new executive branch office, the Office of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange. The office will be housed in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
A new book discusses the health disparities that affect rural and urban Appalachians and has won the praise of a Kentucky physician, who calls its impact "profound." Appalachian Health and Well-Being was reviewed by Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, a retired physician from Somerset, for The Courier-Journal. Each chapter stands alone so readers can choose topics according to their interests. One chapter focuses on obesity and discusses issues like "food deserts" and lifestyle choices.
A dentist works at a Remote Area Medical Clinic in Wise, Va.
(Associated Press photo by Steve Helber)
Dr. Nikki Stone is a dentist who works in Hazard, Ky., at a community-run clinic. A native of the mountains, she knew that children in the region weren’t getting enough dental care, but she was still "staggered by the prevalence of dental disease when she began examining them in 2004," Margot Sanger-Katz reports for the National Journal. "Large numbers of the kids had never seen a dentist. Half had untreated tooth decay, and nearly 20 percent had urgent needs -- more than six cavities or an active abscess. She and her staff 'cried a lot,' she recalls.
A new report has advocates for the nursing home industry in Kentucky saying “I told you so.” The report by Aon Global Risk Consulting ranks Kentucky as the worst state for expenses per bed and for the amount of litigation against nursing homes.
The U.S. House voted again yesterday to repeal the health-care reform law, a move that has no chance of passing in the current Senate and would be vetoed by President Obama if it did. In an op-ed piece in The Courier-Journal, which put the news of the House vote on an inside page, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, left, said a repeal of the law would have big ramifications for Kentucky because: