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.
Transylvania University's first-ever local food fair attracted a larger crowd than expected Friday. There were three letters on the lips of nearly everyone at the fair: CSA. It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Organizer Angela Dossett said CSAs are like Farmer's Markets, only they allow growers and buyers to forge a different kind of bond. "You invest in a farm at the beginning of the growing season and then all through the growing season you get beautiful boxes of produce every week," Dossett said.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health and its partners have selected 41 high schools to receive grants to develop or improve the nutritional, physical activity or tobacco prevention policies at their schools. The $500 grants are part of the Students Taking Charge program offered by Kentucky Action for Healthy Kids. Students Taking Charge provides students with the tools necessary to develop healthy policies and environments within their schools, according to a state press release.
An Indiana man has become the eighth person to receive a hand transplant at Louisville’s Jewish Hospital.Fifty-six year old Ronald Thurman of Marion received a new right hand in a 15-and-a-half hour procedure that ended early Thursday morning. The donor hand came from a 22 year old Texas man who lost his life in a car accident.
Elkhorn Middle School eighth-grader Hanna Sewell sat at the lunch table Wednesday behind a foam tray that held a hamburger and french fries. A few feet away, officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Department of Education were eating lunch too. They stopped by Elkhorn Middle Wednesday to promote new federal guidelines that will cut sodium, add whole grains and provide a wider selection of fruits and vegetables on the side of school lunches nationwide. Announced just a few weeks ago, it’s the first major nutritional overhaul of school meals in more than 15 years. Some of the changes will take place when kids return to school this fall; others will be phased in over time.
By Beth Musgrave and Valarie Honeycutt Spears, Lexington Herald-Leader
Six months after a brain-injured Lebanon man disappeared from a Falmouth personal care home and died, a panel of lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday aimed at preventing similar deaths. Larry Lee's family mounted an extensive search to find the 32-year-old man with a history of mental illness, but it was four weeks after his August disappearance before Lee's body was found on the banks of the Licking River not far from Falmouth Nursing Home in Pendleton County. The personal care home where he was placed by the state did not have adequate services for Lee, his family said.
A spokesman with the Fayette County Health Department says the flu season so far, has been mild. Kevin Hall says there are fewer confirmed cases to report than at this same time last year. "The flu is down. Last year at this time we had 160 cases. The average age then was about twenty-five. We're looking at about 18 right now, so you can see that it is trending younger."
Members of a heart transplant support group met for a special Valentine's Day celebration at UK hospital Tuesday. "Organ donation saves lives," Dr. Charles Shelton, a recovering heart transplant patient at UK, ended his speech at the Valentine's Day get-together of the Heart to Heart support group. They meet to share stories, update each other, and become part of a community.
First lady Jane Beshear Monday joined Dr. Mary Lynn Capilouto, Kentucky Commission on Women Executive Director Eleanor Jordan and other women health advocates to unveil a new interactive women’s wellness kiosk at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center. “As women, wives and mothers, we tend to take on the role of caregiver, putting others’ needs above our own, and many times neglecting our own health,” Beshear said said in a press release.
Since taking over a portion of Kentucky’s Medicaid system, Managed Care Organization (MCO) Kentucky Spirit Health Plan has lost nearly 70,000 members while some healthcare professionals are questioning whether the three new private operators can handle the state’s Medicaid program.
Over the last eight years, over 600 Kentucky teenagers have used video to deliver warnings against ‘underage drinking.’ The lasting impact is hard to gauge, but participating youth and adults are confident lessons are learned. The Keep-It-Real Contest puts a high school student’s creativity to the test by asking them to develop a 30 second video message. Donna Weisenhahn with the Bluegrass Prevention Center believes the project has become more than a warning against the dangers of ‘drinking and driving.’
Mild weather this winter could result in major bug infestations this spring. Since December, University of Kentucky Entomologist Lee Townsend says the central Kentucky area has only seen about 30 days with freezing temperatures. Normally, Townsend says, that figure can reach as high as 50 days. As a result, Townsend says more insects may survive the winter.
Governor Steve Beshear says the problems with Kentucky’s new Medicaid Managed Care system will be resolved. Beshear pushed for the managed care system last year to take some of the administrative burden of Medicaid off of the state. But earlier this week, doctors, pharmacists and hospital officials told lawmakers there were significant problems with the system. Specifically, care providers are owed millions of dollars in claim payments and have struggled to get pre-authorizations for procedures and medications.
Kentucky’s private Medicaid providers say they need immediate changes in the state Medicaid system. Kentucky turned the system over to managed care providers four months ago. And today doctors, pharmacists and hospital executives told a Senate committee how disastrous the change has been. Kentucky currently contracts with four Managed Care Organizations, known as MCOs. Passport is based in Louisville, while Kentucky Spirit, WellCare and Coventry Cares operate statewide.
State House lawmakers, in a rare show of unity, unanimously approved a bill requiring high school and middle school coaches to obtain more training to recognize and treat concussions and other head injuries. Rep. Ben Waide, a Madisonville Republican, said new medical information has surfaced within the past two years pointing to the dangers of head injuries.
Northern Kentucky's smoking opponents lost a battle last year when Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties decided not to impose indoor smoking bans for restaurants and other businesses. But the Northern Kentucky Health Department is trying to clear the smoke from other areas, including Covington’s public housing projects and the city’s swimming pools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month awarded the health department and city $26,950 to explore non-smoking policies in its housing-authority apartments and $4,000 more to expand smoke-free areas around three city pools and a water park.
Kentucky officials have rejected St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s application to open a top-level neonatal intensive care unit in Edgewood. St. Elizabeth has been fighting for more than a year to open the unit, which would provide ventilation and other services to babies born between 28 and 32 weeks of gestation. But the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services ruled late Wednesday that while St. Elizabeth demonstrated the NICU would benefit Northern Kentucky, it did not prove that families needing the service could not get medical care at Cincinnati hospitals or elsewhere in Kentucky.
University Medical Center in Louisville is conducting a self-review in the wake of a failed merger attempt. UMC is made up of University of Louisville Hospital and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. The organization recently tried to merge with Jewish/St. Mary’s Healthcare and Catholic Health Initiatives, but Governor Steve Beshear blocked the deal. Now, UMC’s board has formed a committee to look at questions over the organization’s financial viability, management and operations that arose during merger talks.
Kentucky’s epidemic of substance abuse has officials seeking new methods for breaking the cycle of addiction. One such approach is built into a spending plan for Medicaid. The governor's proposal could provide drug treatment for the first time for adults in the Medicaid program. The item is included in Governor Beshear's budget plan.
The flu is on the move across Kentucky. The traditional peak season for influenza in the Commonwealth falls between January and March. State epidemiologist Craig Humbaugh says the spread of flu has increased in recent weeks. “We had for a long time been reporting what we call sporadic activity which is just an occasional case and then for a few weeks we were reporting localized activity which one level above that now we’re reporting regional activity….we’re one level away from what we call widespread activity,” said Humbaugh.
Dr. Jonathan Feddock of Lexington is a true stair master. The 30-year-old radiation oncologist climbed 29 stories of the Lexington Financial Center, the city's tallest building — 638 steps — in 2 minutes, 46 seconds to take first in the overall male division of Saturday's inaugural Urban Mountain Challenge, organizers said. And get this: He did it after breaking his right foot during an October run.
While Kentucky lawmakers discuss limiting access to medicine containing pseudoephedrine, an official at Jennie Stuart Medical Center fears restrictions may lead to overcrowded doctors’ offices. Three bills pertaining to pseudoephedrine have been introduced to the Kentucky General Assembly. House Bill 80, co-authored by Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, and Rep. Myron Dossett, R-Pembroke, would prohibit anyone convicted of a methamphetamine-related crime from purchasing pseudoephedrine without a prescription. The bill is under discussion with the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville.
A McCreary County couple have filed a $6.5 million lawsuit against Kraft Foods alleging the husband sustained a perforated bowel and peritonitis from a piece of metal he ingested when he ate microwavable Velveeta Shells & Cheese. Leamon Perkins of Pine Knot underwent surgery Sept. 29, one day before Kraft Foods Global recalled the microwavable dish, according to the complaint in U.S. District Court in London filed Jan. 11. The voluntary recall was due to the possible presence of small, thin pieces of wire bristle, according to Kraft officials.
Three people were arrested Thursday after State Police busted a methamphetamine lab in a Warsaw home. Police say a 4-year-old was inside the house where a man suffered chemcial burn. The lab was discovered at the home in the 2900 block of Ky. 1992 in about 9 p.m. Thursday after emergency medical personnel responded to a 911 call of the chemical burn. Inside the house, troopers found three grams of meth and several ingredients used to make meth.
There is still a lot of work to do, but the Florida Attorney General says the "pill pipeline" between her state and Kentucky has been significantly reduced thanks to tougher regulations and the launch of a prescription monitoring program. Pam Bondi spoke in Lexington Thursday at a conference on prescription drug abuse. "We've been going around the state training law enforcement in what to look for in these drug cases, and you wouldn't believe the number of doctors and nurses who are showing up to our training sessions. So there are so many responsible doctors and dentists who want to know what to look for and want to do the right thing.