Health

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Kentucky State Police officers are teaming up with the federal government to collect unused and outdated prescription medications.

Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, and drop-off locations will be set up at locations across the commonwealth.

State Police spokesman Josh Brashears says it’s opportunity to get rid of medications that could be accidentally ingested by children, stolen, or misused.

“Any kind of solid dosage units—pills or liquid cough syrup, anything like that, we can accept and safely dispose of that.”

Park Place Recovery Center for Women

Kentucky’s opioid addiction epidemic sometimes takes its toll on the most vulnerable in society – babies.

Now the healthcare services company LifeSkills is opening a new substance abuse treatment center in Scottsville. It will accept pregnant women, as well women with  infants up to 10 months old.

Geneva Bradshaw is program manager for Park Place Recovery Center for Women.

"We believe the addition of being able to bring their infants will definitely increase their motivation for wanting to get assistance and the help that they need.”

Bradshaw says pregnant women pose a major risk to their babies when use they opioids.

Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

At a moment when food aid agencies are working to provide healthier food to the poor and the elderly, President Donald Trump has proposed a 21 percent cut in funding for the agriculture programs that support them.

It’s a move that advocates say is bad for people who need food and local farmers who provide it.

To understand why folks are worried is to understand Appalachia’s dependence on food programs. Research at West Virginia University found 15 percent of people there are food insecure. A study in Athens, Ohio, showed half of the families enrolled in Head Start couldn’t count on regular meals. And in Kentucky, where one fourth of children in poverty cope with hunger, God’s Pantry program director Danielle Bozarth struggles to keep up. She said it’s unclear what specific food-related programs might be hurt by budget cuts.

UK Gets $11M to Research Links Between Obesity, Cancer

Apr 17, 2017
University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky says it has received an $11.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund a center to study links between obesity and cancer.

Leaders at the school in Lexington announced details of the grant on Monday, saying it will fund the UK Center for Cancer and Metabolism over the next five years. The center will focus on finding links between metabolic disorders and cancer, both of which are prominent in Kentucky.

UK President Eli Capilouto said in a statement that UK is "uniquely positioned" to conduct such research due to its diverse staff of biomedical researchers and its academic medical center.

Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Kentucky has 700,000 residents who are deaf or hard of hearing. Community forums in Somerset April 11-13 and in Bowling Green May 16-18 will  offer families, friends, schools and employers a chance to find information and resources to better serve those with hearing issues. 

The three-day programs are sponsored by the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The Somerset program kicks off April 11 with a ‘Community Connect’ forum from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott. Staff from the commission will also be available from 3 to 7 p.m. on April 12 at the same location. Intrepreters and captioning will be available at the program. Anita Dowd is executive staff advisor for the commission. Dowd is deaf and said the population of Kentucky residents with hearing issues is often under-served and under the radar, partly because of the difficulty in communication. 

Benny Becker

Federal health researchers are visiting health clinics and medical schools in the Appalachian coalfields to recruit allies in the fight a resurgence of black lung disease. The worst form of the disease may affect as many as 5 percent of experienced working miners in the region, and the researchers fear that rate could be even higher among retired miners. 

Medical students filled an auditorium at the University of Pikeville, Kentucky, to hear the latest on this scourge of coal communities, a disease many think should be history by now.

If we come to your town there’s generally something bad going on there,” said Dr. Scott Laney, an epidemiologist with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH. He was part of a research team that identified a resurgence in the worst form of black lung disease in a study published late last year. 

Wikimedia Commons

A new poll shows growing support for a statewide ban on smoking in most public places, despite Kentucky having the highest rate of smokers in the nation.

The latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll shows 71 percent of Kentuckians support a comprehensive statewide-smoke free law compared to 66 percent over the last two years.

Ben Chandler, president and CEO of Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, says such a law would help reduce second-hand smoke and discourage young people from becoming smokers.

“When people don’t see smoking as much, they’re not likely to do it and where we have to stop the smoking is with young people,” Chandler says. “Those are the people who are the most influenced by these things.”

Pulaski County Alzheimer's Disease Respite Center

A Pulaski County day care center for people with Alzheimer’s is getting a reprieve, after it was scheduled to be shut down.

The Pulaski County Alzheimer’s Disease Respite Center planned to close on May 5 as a result of state budget cuts. But state Representative Tommy Turner, state Senator Rick Girdler and the Pulaski County Fiscal Court have banded together in an effort to keep the doors open, at least for a while.

The center’s executive director Pat Brinson says that political team is providing hope.       

“The county has found funding to now keep us open through June 30 and as a group, they are going to be evaluating if they can find funding to keep us open for another year.”

The funding for the remainder of this fiscal year is from the Pulaski County Fiscal Court.

When House Speaker Paul Ryan says he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act so that people can buy insurance that's right for them, and not something created in Washington, part of what he's saying is that he wants to get rid of so-called essential health benefits.

That's a list of 10 general categories of medical care that all insurance policies are required to cover under the Affordable Care Act.

BRADD Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living

The uncertainty around possible cuts to federal programs for the elderly and disabled is raising concerns among some social service agencies in southern Kentucky.

Some of the proposed cuts impact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That department funds the Older Americans Act, which provides support to Area Agencies on Aging in southern Kentucky.

Michelle Hines is the director of that agency in the Barren River Area Development District. She says many low-income, elderly and disabled residents in the region could suffer if the proposed budget is approved.

“That could spell disaster in the future of the Older Americans Act programs and services. The services under there include case management, transportation, home delivered meals, elder justice and long-term care ombudsmen.”

Todd Lappin via Flickr

Note: Some readers may find this subject matter disturbing.

When Beth Jacobs was 16 years old, she needed a ride home. She had missed her bus after work again after promising her father she was responsible enough not to make it a habit. She asked a man she thought was a friend to give her a lift. He offered her a drink from his car’s cup holder. She took a sip and woke up in a parking lot hours later.

“And he was like, ‘Baby do you know what I am?’” Jacobs recalled decades later. “He said, ‘I'm a pimp.’ I reached for the door, and he grabbed my hair and he said, ‘I own you now.’”

The pimp told Jacobs if she didn’t cooperate he would kill her and her father. Jacobs believed him. “He had taken me home before, he knew where I lived.”

Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky has ranked first in the country in deaths from lung cancer for years, and about a third of those deaths were related to smoking, according to a 2016 study released by the American Cancer Society.

A lot of public attention is now focused on overdose deaths from heroin and other drugs, but studies show deaths from lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers were three times as high as deaths from overdoses in 2015.

I spoke with Heather Wehrheim, advocacy director of the American Lung Association in Kentucky. She says addressing the public health effects of tobacco use should be more of a priority for not only the state, but also the public.

Flickr/Creative Commons/ Lora Zibman

The new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that 24 million Americans would be without health insurance in the next 10 years if the current Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act is approved. 

Many residents of Kentucky are carefully watching to see how they might be affected. About 400,000 Kentucky residents who previously did not have health insurance gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  Robin Shank of Glasgow is one of them.

“I’m concerned about the ACA. I have a very bad heart condition. I went 25 years without medical insurance. It about broke me. The ACA saved my life," said Shank. "If they take it away, it’s going to kill me. It’s going to drive my family into bankruptcy and then I’ll die. That’s why I’m concerned.”

Rebecca Kiger

Wendy Crites is a single mom, a Christian and a recovering addict in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. She's on parole and receiving substance abuse treatment through the Jefferson Day Report Center. Crites has been using drugs since she was 13, intravenously since she was 15.

“Everyone has some kind of addiction,” she said. “I believe it’s that hole everyone has in their heart that you’re trying to fill -- I’ve filled it with drugs. I think it’s really something only God can do. And I think he uses our weaknesses to bring us to him.”

Crites has a 26-year-old daughter, Ashley, and a 12-year-old son, Devin.

“I have the sweetest son - half of his life he’s saw me be strung out on drugs. He’s getting ready be a teenager, and I just want to be a good role model for him.”

Becca Schimmel

Retired coal miners face a one-two punch to their health benefits that could leave many of them in the lurch. A repeal of Obamacare and the expiration of miner’s health protections could make it hard for any coal retiree to get health care.

Ohio Valley retirees have been meeting one-on-one with congressional leaders to talk about the risks to their benefits. Some provisions of the Affordable Care Act are especially important to miners. The so-called Byrd Amendment deals with benefits for miners suffering from black lung, and miners hope it will be restored if the Act is repealed. Miners are also concerned about the Act’s pre-existing condition provision.

United Mine Workers communications director Phil Smith said the nature of the work makes every retired miner a “walking basket of pre-existing conditions.”


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