Sales of hydrocodone (the key ingredient of Vicodin, Norco and Lortab) and oxycodone (the main ingredient in OxyContin, Percocet and Percodan) skyrocketed in new parts of the country as the problem spread from its Appalachian roots in the last decade, an Associated Press analysis shows. Oxycodone sales in Tennessee, New York and Florida were up by more than 499 percent from 2000 to 2010, the highest increases in the country, the study shows. When it came to hydrocodone, South Dakota had the highest increase, with 300 to 399 percent.
As a bipartisan group of political leaders pushes the General Assembly to pass a bill Thursday that would crack down on "pill mills" that contribute to prescription drug abuse, Eastern Kentucky's Operation UNITE has organized a national summit in Florida. The National Rx Drug Abuse Summit aims to "foster understanding and cooperation among those involved in the battle against the epidemic," reports Laura Ungar for The Courier-Journal.
The University of Louisville is one of seven institutions participating in a national study of adult stem cell therapy that officials say will give U of L a high profile the next several years. The therapy uses stem cells to repair damaged cells in certain diseases or injuries. Last fall, a group led by Dr. Roberto Bolli (pictured), director of U of L’s Division of Cardiology, announced it had successfully reversed heart damage in 16 trial patients through stem cell treatment. The new research will seek treatments for a greater variety of cardiovascular diseases, said Bolli.
Organ and tissue donors and recipients gathered with doctors and nurses with UK Healthcare to recognize a special month on their calendars. A new flag flies below the stars and stripes in front of UK Chandler Hospital. It reads “Donate Life,” highlighting April status as Donate Life Month, an effort to bolster organ donor registries across the country. More than 800 Kentucky residents are on waiting lists for life-saving organs. Teresa Schladt was lucky enough to receive a liver five years ago.
Thousands of Lexington middle schoolers are putting their sneakers to work over the next six weeks as they participate in World Fit, a fitness program started by Olympians to reduce childhood obesity. This year 11 of Fayette County Public Schools' 12 middle schools are taking part.
Kentucky State Police are seeing a significant spike in motorcycle crashes and deaths. There’s been a 69 percent increase in motorcycle wrecks this year compared to the same period in 2011. State police spokesman, Michael Webb says there have been nine bike related fatalities this year compared with four at this point last year. “So we would ask to encourage all motorists on the roadway to be more vigilant for motorcycles traveling on the roadways….at the same time..we also want to encourage cyclists for how passenger cars behave on the road..and that they may not be able to see cyclists as well,” said Webb.
A freeze warning is in effect for much of thebluegrass region. The biggest threat of frost is projected between one a.m. and nine a.m. Saturday. With chilly temperatures comes the risk of damage to all kinds of flowering plants. Madison county extension agent in horticulture, Amanda Sears says strawberries are particularly vulnerable.
Since Kentucky banned texting while driving, State police have issued a few hundred citations. State Police Lieutenant David Jude says about 300 tickets were issued statewide in 2011, and another 100 thus far in 2012. “And whether it takes a day, a week, a particular holiday, or even a whole month…set aside for it…it is definitely something that we need to look for….you know Kentucky annually averages around 40 percent or so distracted driving collisions,” said Jude.
Weight and width restrictions are now in place for a rural bridge that links Madison and Estill counties. A weight limit of nine tons and a width restriction of 14 feet govern the Kentucky 499 bridge over Drowning Creek. An inspection revealed a deterioration of support beams. District Ten Transportation Department spokesman H-B Elkins says one lane of traffic remain open until repairs are complete. Elkins says most passenger vehicles can still use the bridge
A new report on health in Kentucky ranks Jefferson County lower than many of its neighbors, but says state’s eastern counties are most in need of improvements. The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the national County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report, which gives county-by-county health statistics based on factors such as premature death, lack of physical activity and the number of fast food restaurants in the county.
After months of preparation and anticipation, Saturday’s move of the last patients from the old Clark Regional Medical Center into the new hospital on Winchester's Lexington Road went off without a hitch. Ambulance crews from Winchester Fire-EMS, Estill and Powell counties began moving the 16 patients to the new facility at 5 a.m., and less than two hours later, the move was completed and the lights were turned out for the final time at the old hospital.
As the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has issued a West Nile Virus warning to equine owners, officials with the state’s veterinarian department are encouraging owners to seek vaccinations, which they say have a 100 percent success rate in Kentucky. West Nile was first discovered in New York in 1999 and has since spread across the country. It’s transmitted from mosquitoes that bite infected birds, which can then transmit the virus to horses, humans and other warm-blooded animals.
A Lexington company has agreed to pay nearly $700,000 to the U.S. government to settle civil allegations of Medicare fraud.The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky announced the settlement Tuesday with Hospice of the Bluegrass. From January 2002 to December 2008, Hospice submitted Medicare reimbursement claims for services performed on patients who did not qualify for Medicare.
A large, inflatable replica of a human colon made a stop today in Lexington. The colon, which is big enough to explore, was set up just outside the Fayette County Health Clinic. Jessica Jackson, who’s with the health department, says they hope to excite the curiosity of passers-by. “Well the benefit of something like this is to allow clients and patients and the public to come through and see the visual of actual colon cancer developing cause a lot of people can’t see inside their colons so once they walk through this inflatable colon they have a chance to see the actual diseases that grow inside the colon,” said Jackson.
Dr. Clark Bailey's patients don't have to tell him how miserable their allergies are this year. As a fellow sufferer, he knows the feeling. The spring allergy season normally gets under way right about now, but many sufferers have been sneezing for a month or more. Allergy sufferers can thank a mild winter with a lot of rain for their early symptoms. "I have certainly had them early this year," said Bailey, a general practitioner at Lexington's Central Baptist's Urgent Care. Some of his patients have complained of problems from allergies since February. The spring allergy season normally gets under way right about now, but many sufferers have been sneezing for a month or more. Allergy sufferers can thank a mild winter with a lot of rain for their early symptoms.
Of the problems facing the nation's health care system, one rarely discussed factor helping up drive up costs is something called "health literacy." Like many health care-related issues, it’s a problem that affects not just patients but medical professionals."You could have a PhD and be very health illiterate," says Deborah Murray, associate director of the Health Education Though Extension Leadership program and organizer of a Health Literacy Summit taking place in Lexington.
A coalition of organizations is rallying Wednesday to urge lawmakers and citizens to take a stronger stance against smoking in the Commonwealth. “Kick Butts Day” is focusing on preventing young people from taking up the habit. Evidence of the 17th annual “Kick Butts Days” is on display at the YMCA of Central Kentucky in Beaumont Circle Wednesday, as the lobby is filled with pamphlets, displays, and organizers such as Betsy Janes with the American Lung Association.
A state agency that serves as a watchdog for people with disabilities says the Commonwealth is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by placing people with mental illnesses in personal care homes. A personal care home is a long-term care facility for residents who do not need intensive care but do require more than just room and board. There are more than 6,000 personal care home beds in Kentucky. A report issued this week by Kentucky Protection and Advocacy found that people in these facilities are not given opportunities to interact with others or be part of the community.
Ninety-five years after the original Clark County Hospital opened on Wainscott Avenue, local and state officials gathered with community members to celebrate the completion of the new Clark Regional Medical Center on Lexington Road. “Boy, what a project it’s been,” hospital CEO Kathy Love said. “We’ve had incredible partnerships, incredible vision and incredible foresight.” LifePoint Hospitals purchased Clark Regional Medical Center in May 2010 and construction began in September 2010. The facility is licensed for 100 beds and is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, allowing staff to expand medical services.
A proposal for a Kentucky statewide smoking ban has cleared its first hurdle. The House Health and Welfare committee passed the bill today. The bill was expected to pass easily, but a few Republicans did vote against the measure because of concern for individual property rights.Lexington doctor Sylvia Cerel-Suhl supports the ban. She says it’s her right to go out in public and not be subjected to second-hand smoke.
A new report today from the Alzheimer’s Association says more than 11,000 Kentuckians diagnosed with the disease still live alone, and up to half of them have no identifiable caregiver. In Indiana, the number exceeds 17,000. Teri Shirk, president of the association’s Kentucky and southern Indiana chapter,says the numbers are climbing as more people live to be senior citizens, with many having no family members to look after them.
Three private companies that took over management of Kentucky’s Medicaid system in November have become a clogged channel between payments from the state and the hospitals and doctors who need the money. Jennie Stuart Medical Center, the Christian and Todd County health departments and Pennyroyal Mental Health Center are awaiting months’ worth of back payments, causing major budget shortfalls.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health, along with the Kentucky Cancer Program at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, is helping to promote “Dress in Blue Day” by asking Kentuckians to wear blue on Friday to promote colon cancer screening. During a rally at the Capitol, Gov. Steve Beshear signed a proclamation designating March 2012 Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In his current budget proposal, Beshear seeks funding for the colon cancer screening for 4,000 uninsured Kentuckians.
Several healthcare groups have come together in a public-private partnership to fight cancer in Kentucky. The newly-formed Kentucky Cancer Foundation is part of a two-million-dollar initiative to help uninsured Kentuckians get cancer screenings. In his proposed two year budget, Governor Steve Beshear earmarked half a million dollars each year for colon cancer screenings. He also proposed raising another million from a public-private partnership.
For a few minutes today, let’s put aside expanded gambling, redistricting, Medicaid, and pill mills and talk about Kentucky kids. In a Weekly Wrap-up, Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) is writing about the plight of the children in the Commonwealth. It is not a pretty picture. One of Executive Director’s Terry Brook’s brightest policy analysts has taken a look at the latest annual national snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and found some disturbing news for kids in Kentucky.
February is National Children's Dental Health Month and hundreds of students at a local elementary school brushed their teeth in unison at an assembly this/Thursday morning as part of the first annual "Brush Off!" event. The rally at Booker T. Washington Academy was meant to urge kids to adopt good oral hygiene habits. But for student Samantha Wiggington, avoiding drills and fillings might be all the encouragement she needs.
Former UK basketball coach Joe B. Hall is a busy fellow these days. One of his pursuits is a daily statewide radio show with former U of L coach Denny Crum. Hall, now 83, recalls the moment back in 1997 when his heart stopped him in his tracks and led to his being honored Saturday as a survivor at the Lexington Heart Ball. Hall replaced the legendary Adolph Rupp as UK coach and led the Wildcats to an NCAA championship in 1978. He retired as coach in 1985.
A new study out of Yale University offers evidence that coal mining isn’t directly to blame for Appalachia’s health problems—but it could play a part. For years, researchers have tried to figure out why people in Appalachia contract diabetes, heart disease and various cancers at higher rates than most of the country. Several studies out of West Virginia University found links between some of those maladies and coal mining. The new study,from researchers at Yale’s School of Public Health, suggests the causes are more complicated.
For the third time, a bill that would provide grants to put heart-shocker machines in all US schools is making the rounds in Congress. And, an obstacle that’s stopped this bill before could once again halt it.
Dr. Marianne Sheroan eased her patient’s fears of a cavity treatment by telling her that she was receiving “princess fillings.” And they were indeed pretty special, because for the patient, they were free. More than 60 children received free dental work in the past few weeks as part of the Smile Kentucky program. The program in Hardin County screens every third grader and relays the assessments of dental needs to parents. But for about 70 students, the needed treatment is provided free by dental professionals who volunteer with the program.