Needle exchange programs were first created 30 years ago, in response to the AIDS epidemic. Infected needles were often passed from drug abuser to drug abuser, spreading the deadly disease. By providing sterile needles, public health officials reduced the number of infections. Still, needle exchange programs remain controversial and under debate in Frankfort and Washington DC.
Governor Steve Beshear on a public tour of Lexington's new Eastern State Hospital.
Credit Stu Johnson / WEKU News
Nearly 200 years of history is about to end at Lexington’s Eastern State Hospital. It’s old facility now stands almost vacant, replaced by a 129- million dollar psychiatric hospital. Chief Medical Officer Allen Brenzel led a group that included Kentucky’s Governor, social workers, and advocates for the mentally ill. In addition to the modern amenities, Brenzel says the newest techniques in care giving will be applied at the 239 bed facility.
Three Kentucky healthcare providers are working together to improve heart care in Appalachia. The partnership should mean fewer patient trips to Lexington. The collaboration involves Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Appalachian Heart Center, and the University of Kentucky’s Gill Heart Institute. UK Vice President of Health Affairs Michael Karpf says more cardiologists will be going to the Hazard area.
The University of Louisville is giving Norton Healthcare 30 days to back out of an agreement with the University of Kentucky to jointly operate Kosair Children's Hospital. Norton announced the partnership last week, saying it wanted to strengthen pediatric care in the commonwealth. This surprised U of L officials, who have also been trying to negotiate a similar contract with Norton. “The very fact that Norton made that announcement absent any discussion with the U of L and has touted it as being, It’s all about better pediatric care, is absolutely nonsense," says David Dunn, UofL's executive vice president of health affairs. Read more...
Over the decades, great gains have been made in reducing black lung disease among coal miners. But, recently, there’s been an uptick in the sometimes fatal condition. Fifty years ago, Central Appalachian Education and Research Center Director Wayne Sanderson says about a third of all miners contracted black lung. Today, the potentially deadly disease afflicts about four to five percent of miners. And, Sanderson says, that number’s climbing.
The federal mandate for health insurance coverage impacts thousands of Kentuckians. Another step toward getting those individuals covered occurred today in Lexington. A call center for the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange Office is located in Lexington. Governor Beshear was on hand for the official launch of the center where 60 agents stand by ready to answer questions.
Two new drug awareness and education initiatives will be unveiled Friday in southeast Kentucky. The public ceremony at Eastern Kentucky University’s Manchester campus recognizes a new ‘Hope Wall’ and a mobile drug education classroom. Both are projects spearheaded by ‘Unite,’ an organization known for drug investigations, treatment, and education.
More than 250 "cuddlers" have volunteered to comfort newborns going through withdrawal when a unique, independent treatment center opens this fall in southern West Virginia. Lily's Place in Huntington plans to wean infants off drugs outside a hospital setting while also helping their addicted moms. Donations arrive every day. But good intentions don't always pay the bills.
Dr. Mark Plunkett, a cardiothoracic surgeon who came to UK from the UCLA medical center in 2007, resigned from UK effective Aug. 14, 2013, and accepted a job at the University of Florida.
Credit Pablo Alcala / Lexington Herald Leader
After months of refusing to release mortality rates for its troubled pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program, the University of Kentucky reversed course Friday and issued a statement disclosing the numbers. UK Healthcare CEO Michael Karpf said the program had an overall mortality rate of 5.8 percent from 2008 to 2012. During that period, annual mortality rates ranged from 4.5 percent to 7.1 percent, Karpf said in a statement. "These ranges are comparable to national mortality rates averaging 5.3 percent for programs of similar size to ours," Karpf said. More than 500 people have signed an online petition in the last week urging UK to release information about how many children died after undergoing heart surgery at Kentucky Children's Hospital. Read more.
Whole grains, low fat dairy products, and fruits and vegetables have long been recommended for preschoolers. Those recommendations could become a mandate over the next year. Organizations, like Head Start, that participate in the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program are already preparing. Cindy Willmarth led a training session at Eastern Kentucky University.
Many drivers say seat belts scare them. They worry about being trapped in a sinking car. However, a state highway safety official says such fears are unwarranted. Bill Bell, who directs the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, says a seat belt gives you better odds of survival.
A review has found an 8 percent drop in Medicaid providers in Kentucky since the state moved to a managed care system two years ago. State Auditor Adam Edelen said the decrease raises concerns about Kentucky's ability to provide health care to an additional 300,000 people in a Medicaid expansion next year.
A panel appointed to review severe child abuse and neglect cases is considering a proposal that would require caregivers to submit to drug testing if a child died in their custody. Media reported the Kentucky Child Fatality and New Fatality External Review Panel met Monday and discussed the idea after reviewing the case of an infant who died while sleeping with his parents.
Kentucky is one of 17 states setting up its own online health-insurance exchange under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A new report provides a limited update about the process, and reminds us that Kentucky doesn't have a long-term plan to pay for the Kentucky Health Benefits Exchange, branded Kynect and scheduled to go online Oct.1. The state is writing regulations to govern the operations of the exchange, and "developing IT systems that house and execute the eligibility determination rules for exchange coverage, federal premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance program" says the Georgetown University report, prepared for the Commonwealth Fund, which calls itself "a private foundation that aims to promote a high-performing health care system." Read more...
Gov. Steve Beshear rushed to transplant Medicaid into a new bed called managed care, hoping the new medium would save money and improve health, but his administration didn't take time to condition the soil, fertilize the ground or oil the machinery in 2011. This month, managed-care company Kentucky Spirit proved to be the self-plucking bad weed, fleeing the state as it cited unbearable costs. Kentucky’s hurried transition to Medicaid managed care has been anything but smooth for many doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers. They have complained about late payments and burdensome reimbursement processes. Read more...
ATLANTA, Ga. — Kentucky is among the states with the lowest life expectancy and healthy life expectancy numbers, according to figures released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
WEKU' Stu Johnson reports on rain's impact on Lexington's mosquitoes.
The mosquito population is in a bit of a ‘flux’ right now. It’s difficult to predict just how much bug biting will go on this summer in central Kentucky. From mid-July into early August, mosquitoes traditionally peak here. But, heavy recent rainfall is flushing away mosquito larvae. Fayette County Health Department’s Luke Mathias hopes such rain repeats itself on a weekly basis.
Like all good science, Katie Ann Skogsberg’s research grew from a simple question. Actually, the question was asked by her husband. “The way the whole thing started is my husband saw them in the grocery store line and said `I wonder if those little things really work,’ and I said `Well I can test it,” said Skogsberg.
Kentucky’s Medicaid Commissioner is included in a national group working to develop innovative strategies to meet the health care needs of low income families. Commissioner Lawrence Kissner is one of seven Medicaid directors nationally picked to participate in the Medicaid Leadership Institute. The initiative, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, aims to help state Medicaid officials do more in offering accessible, cost effective care.
Conditions have improved slightly for Kentucky children, especially in education and health, and the state's overall well-being ranking has gone up one spot, from 35th to 34th in the nation. But economic conditions for young Kentuckians have slipped since last year, says the Kids Count report released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The annual report measures how the country and its 50 states are doing according to four measures of child well-being – education, health, economic well-being, and family and community. How well Kentucky's children score in each domain paints a picture of Kentucky's future. Read more...
Disposal of chemical munitions at the Bluegrass Army Depot is still years away, but keeping up with the demilitarization process is day to day for some government safety officials. Mark Klaas is program manager for Kentucky’s Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program. Work continues on a chemical neutralization plant for nerve agent at the Madison County Army installation. Klaas says the neutralized product could be hauled away.
The onslaught of social media is changing the way many people get their information. Often times, the lines between fact, rumor and innuendo are blurred for users of social media…especially during a time of disaster or other traumatic event. Public radio news directors and reporters from across the country gathered in Cleveland this weekend for their annual conference. Russell Lewis is NPR Bureau Chief in the Southern region which includes Kentucky. During times of high, intense trauma, Lewis says it’s critical for reporters to slow down and maintain objectivity.
A Lexington doctor has begun her term as the new president of the American Medical Association. Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven was sworn in as the 168th president of the physicians group at the AMA’s annual meeting this week in Chicago. Hoven, who is an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist, will spend much of the year traveling on behalf of the AMA.
As people take summer vacations, bedbugs also hit the road. The bedbug infestation is not waning. A national survey shows almost all pest management professionals encountered bedbugs over the last year. And with more people travelling and changing residences, University of Kentucky Entomologist Mike Potter says many pest control experts see a lot of activity during the summer.
Some portions of Kentucky could see stormy weather today, but it appears the threat of an unusual wind event has passed by the Commonwealth. It’s called a ‘derecho’ and wind speeds can reach upwards or one hundred miles per hour. Jackson National Weather Service Meteorologist Tony Edwards says such a blast of wind isn’t expected today.
A call is going out for individuals to assist those uninsured Kentuckians looking at the federal health care law for coverage. The state is seeking both for profit and nonprofit entities to serve as ‘kynectors’ for the health benefit exchange. Carrie Banahan, Director of the state Health Benefit Exchange believes these individuals providing assistance will stay busy.
As they begin their day, outdoor workers in Kentucky and six others southeast states will stand down at construction and other work sites. The time will be spent stressing the dangers posed by summer heat. Bill Cochran with the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the voluntary break is not restricted to construction workers.
Top prosecutors in 23 states, including Kentucky’s attorney general, are condemning a national retailer. Despite the criticism, Urban Outfitters continues to sell flasks and shot glasses that look like prescription pill bottles.
A hospital’s operating room can be a noisy, distracting workplace. There’s the hum of equipment, tones, beeps and conversations, that can all interfere with good communication. A University of Kentucky study looked into the kinds of sounds most often heard in the O-R.