Drinking and driving still accounts for many fatal vehicle crashes across Kentucky. More and more prescription pill impairment is joining alcohol as a cause for tragic collisions. As drivers hit the highways for their return following the holiday weekend, Robert McCool with the University of Kentucky’s Injury Prevention Center says these wrecks may not be related to drug abuse at all.
While rural Americans have less access to primary care and have worse health outcomes, the care at rural hospitals is equal to, if not better, than that at urban hospitals, a National Rural Health Association report says. The study also found rural health care is not more expensive than urban care. "However, urban residents rarely out-migrate to rural settings for either routine or advanced treatments or care yet many rural patients are referred to or voluntarily travel to urban providers based on the myth of better care," a summary of the study says.
State Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, watches
as Commissioner James Comer speaks at Green
County High School.(Greensburg Record-Herald)
To encourage child nutrition and healthier school lunches, state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer visited six Kentucky school districts earlier this week. He met with school boards in Owsley, Jackson, Knox, Marion and Metcalfe counties, and visited Green County High School, according to a news release from his office. Many Kentucky children consume more than half of their daily calories at schools. During a typical school day, 4 in 10 American students buy and eat snack foods and drinks, the Pew Health Group found. More than 23 million children and teens in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
Interested in creating a venue for those who have been harmed while undergoing medical treatments, ProPublica, the nonprofit, investigative news organization, has set up a Facebook page on the issue. "Group members have already shared stories of personal disability or the death of a loved one due to surgical mistakes, becoming infected with deadly drug-resistant bacteria and dental mishaps — including cases they claim were not properly addressed by health care providers," Daniel Victor and Marshall Allen report. The page will be moderated by Victor and Olga Pierce.
Kentucky scored a dismal 3 on a scale of 10 in a safety study that assessed states against the the top 10 injury indicators in the country. The state had the 10th highest injury rate, with 76.6 Kentuckians per 100,000 dying from intentional or unintentional injuries. Injuries are the third leading cause of death nationally, and the leading cause of death for Americans between ages 1 and 44.
A sexually transmitted virus that’s long been known to cause cervical cancer is now being blamed for a growing list of other cancers that are hitting Kentucky hard. HPV, short for human papillomavirus, is linked to cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus and lung, and most recently to a rising number of head and neck cancers that strike in the prime of life. “It’s turning out to be a pretty bad actor ... an extensive health problem,” said Dr. Daniel Metzinger, a gynecological oncologist with University of Louisville Physicians and one of several local doctors who say they’re seeing more HPV-related disease than ever before.
An art competition among students with impaired hearing is designed to draw attention to Kentuckians who are deaf and hard of hearing. Six students from around Kentucky were recently named as winners of the ‘Communication…Every Word Matters’ art contest. They’ll be featured on a fiberglass horse on display in Louisville during the Deaf-Festival in early July. Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Director Virginia Moore says communication can be a problem when buying art.
Health care facilities cannot always provide timely assistance to Kentuckians with hearing loss. Patients often have a hard time communicating with emergency room personnel. Virginia Moore, who directs the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, says at least one Kentucky hospital has hired an expert in sign language.
Uninsured motorists across Kentucky will begin receiving notices in June. Those notices will state registration for their personal vehicles will be canceled if they don’t obtain required insurance of show proof of existing insurance. Registered owners of personal vehicles shown to have been without insurance for more than two months will receive the notices. The owners will have 30 days to obtain or present verification of coverage.
The story behind 9-month-old's death is featured in a video produced by the Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse, a coalition of medical schools and children's hospitals from Kentucky and Indiana. The kickoff event for the partnership was held Wednesday at Kosair Children's Hospital. The partnership will launch a media blitz soon to raise awareness about the signs of child abuse.
A new motorcycle operator’s test in Kentucky should better assess a biker’s skills in traffic. The test, developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, was implemented May first. In 2012, State Police spokesman Michael Webb says Kentucky has seen a 69 percent increase in motorcycle crashes. Webb says it’s difficult to predict if the revised test will reduce the number of cyclists earning a license.
Medicaid provider Coventry Cares has reversed an earlier decision and will continue paying for a costly medication that helps drug addicts stop using opiates, a company spokesman said Monday. Matt Eyles, a spokesman for Coventry, said the company decided to reverse course after talking to representatives of a chain of addiction treatment clinics that threatened last week to sue Coventry.
State officials have not yet given private Medicaid operators permission to do business in the Louisville area, but that hasn't stopped one company from trying to make inroads. Currently, Passport Health Plan runs Medicaid in and around Louisville. The federal government has ordered the state to open the region to competition, but the area remains closed. In anticipation of a change, United Healthcare recently sent letters to dental centers in the area, encouraging them to sign up with United once the state allows outside companies to begin operations.
The bicycle is in increasing popular in central Kentucky among commuters. Among commuting cyclists, figures from the U-S Census Bureau ranks Lexington 64th out of 244 communities with populations greater than 65 thousand. Each day, Lexington cyclist Mike Galbraith makes a four mile commute to work. And, Galbraith, who’s an instructor with the League of American Bicyclists, says there is interest in extending bike routes in rural areas. In Fayette County, he says the Legacy Trail offers such an opportunity
A cash-strapped state Office for the Blind is coping by implementing a number of policy changes. They’re all cost saving measures. If adopted, some of the 400 people assisted by Kentucky’s Office for the Blind will receive less tuition assistance, fewer cataract surgeries, and find it harder to qualify for state-provided services. Allison Jessee with the State Office for the Blind says the policy changes will be the subject of four public hearings scheduled for this month. Then, Jessee says they could be implemented in June.
Medicaid provider Coventry Cares plans to stop paying for an expensive medication that helps addicts kick opioid addictions, a move state officials quickly condemned Thursday as a contract violation. The Medicaid managed care company's decision to stop paying for buprenorphine, a drug used to curtail cravings for drugs such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, also brought the threat of a lawsuit from a group of addiction treatment centers. Buprenorphine is more commonly known as Suboxone.
Students will see changes in their lunch and breakfast trays this fall following the approval of new meal standards by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new standards apply to all schools participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. The new standards require schools to serve fruit and vegetables to students daily, increase the amount whole grain-rich foods and limit calories based on students’ age.
The problems with privatized Medicaid in Eastern and Western Kentucky could be coming to Louisville. Passport Health Plan has run Medicaid in Louisville and the surrounding area for more than a decade. The system was the model for last year's Medicaid privatization, which brought three new Medicaid management companies into the state.
Kentucky Senator Julie Denton says the state's largest private Medicaid company is underpaying and threatening healthcare providers, and she says lawmakers may kick the company out of the state Medicaid system if the behavior persists. CoventryCares is one of three new private Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) that began business in the commonwealth last year. But problems with the privatized system popped up quickly.
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 public meeting in Frankfort to get stakeholders' input about development of a state-operated health insurance exchange Monday was attended by dozens of Tea Party activists taking issue with Gov. Steve Beshear's intention to create it. "It was absolutely a formal protest," said organizer David Adams, who writes the blog Kentucky Progress and managed Louisville businessman Phil Moffett's campaign for the Republican nomination for governor last year. "We are very, very strongly opposed and we're just getting started with our protest."
This spring central and eastern Kentucky has enjoyed a relatively stable blood supply, with donations up a bit since the March tornados. The Kentucky Blood Center reports a two percent increase in blood donations since last July. Spokeswoman Martha Osborne says that increase is on top of a one and a half percent bump in donations during the previous 12 months.
A new poll by a nonpartisan health organization suggests a majority of Kentuckians would support a statewide smoking ban. The Kentucky Health Issues Poll is conducted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. And its 2011 poll, taken last fall and released this week, shows that 54 percent of Kentuckians would approve an indoor statewide smoking ban. Kentucky’s General Assembly has flirted with a law that would create a statewide smoking ban, but it has yet to fully make it through both chambers.
The Fayette County Health Department is teaming up with the Lexington Humane Society and the city’s department of animal care and control for an annual rabies vaccination clinic. Health Department spokesman Kevin Hall says it’s a low-cost way for pet owners to make sure their animals are properly immunized and in compliance with the law. “This is just a chance for pet owners to come out and get a very low cost shot. It’s three dollars to get the pet vaccinated and normally these cost up to around twenty dollars.”
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.
The main healthcare provider for eastern Kentucky, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, has filed suit against two of the state’s four Medicaid managed care operators. In complaints filed this week, Appalachian Regional Healthcare alleges Coventry Health and Kentucky Spirit Health Plan owe the provider over $17 million in back payments. Kentucky privatized Medicaid statewide last November to reduce costs and provide better patient care.
By Ivy Brashear, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues
Dr. Michael Hendryx, West Virginia University
The scholar who has done the most to connect mountaintop removal coal mining with public health issues explained and defended his work last week during a lecture at Morehead State University. The studies by Michael Hendryx and his colleagues at West Virginia University have become controversial because they show correlations between coal mining and public health, not that mining causes health problems. Showing the relationship between two separate things iscorrelation; showing that one thing causes another is causation.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health’s Office of Health Equity is promoting National Minority Health Month during April. This year’s theme, “Health Equity Can’t Wait. Act Now in Your CommUNITY!” is a call to action to reduce health disparities among various minorities across the state. Health equity is defined as the attainment of the highest level of health for all people. According to the research conducted by DPH, numerous disparities – or gaps in health equity – exist in Kentucky, such as the rate of diabetes among the state’s Hispanic population or infant mortality among African-Americans.
Bone marrow donor Monica Choe swabs her cheek as part of the registration process
Credit Josh James
University of Kentucky pharmacy students organized a bone marrow drive on campus Friday. In addition to adding new names to the registry, the drive also aimed to clear up some common misconceptions about the donation process. "We've been at it since about 8 o'clock and we've probably added 45 to 50 people already," says Kenneth Kennedy, a pharmacy resident is helping oversee the Be the Match Bone Marrow Drive. He says part of the challenge is updating potential donors on how the donation process has evolved.
A Burkard spore trap sits on the roof of the University Health Services Building. UK is an area reporter for pollen and mold. Daily readings can help allergy sufferers and allergists know what to expect.
Credit Lexington Herald-Leader file photo
On the roof of the University of Kentucky Health Services building sits a device the shape and size of the propeller on a toy airplane. What it gathers each weekday from March until the end of October determines whether you have — or will get — a bad case of pollen-related sniffles. It is a measuring point, one of only a few in the state, for pollen and mold.