Health

The University of Louisville

One of Kentucky’s most well-known cancer treatment centers is receiving a multi-million dollar grant to find new treatments and vaccines.

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville announced Friday that they have been given a three-year, $5.5 million dollar grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

The Center’s director, Doctor Donald Miller, says the grant will help continue a partnership between U of L and Owensboro Health that is exploring the use of plant-based pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

“We have two vaccines--one for cervical cancer, one for colon cancer that are ready to move forward  into early phase clinical trials, and this grant will primarily support the testing of those vaccines over the next three years,” Dr. Miller said.

The grant will also seek to further develop plant-based drugs that would allow a higher concentration of anti-cancer drugs to be delivered to tumors.

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As concerns rise about mine safety following an explosion in a Turkish coal mine that killed more than 200, Kentucky mine safety officials are coping with a 38 percent budget cut.

The state Office of Mine Safety and Licensing’s Dick Brown says $8.5 million in cuts will lead to eliminating some 50 positions across the state and cutting annual mine safety inspections from six to four.

The cuts also mean less safety training for miners.

“We’re going to have to be judicious in how we approach this and make sure, number one, that miners are as safe as we can possibly make them and that we can effectively keep them safe,” Brown said.

Brown expects a cut to the number of mine safety rescue teams as well. However, Madisonville’s KCTCS Mine Rescue Team receives private funding from coal companies and won’t be impacted by the budget cut.

Hardin County is one step closer to having its first ever YMCA facility.

A steering committee announced Thursday afternoon the selection of a 14 acre site in Elizabethtown where the YMCA will be built. Hardin County Schools Superintendent Nannette Johnston is chair of the committee, and says the project could have a positive impact on the community’s health.

“One of the alarming factors that I have seen is that when our student-athletes have physicals, the hospital has shared with us that they’re seeing an increase—even in our student-athletes—of cases of high blood pressure, weight problems, and some who are even on some kind of blood pressure medication,” Johnston told WKU Public Radio.

The Hardin County YMCA will be a branch of the Greater Louisville chapter of the organization.

The privately-owned land selected for the project is on Veteran’s Way in Elizabethtown behind the Best Buy store. Johnston says the property owner has agreed to make a sizeable donation to the effort, meaning the land will be bought below market level.

Kentucky leads the nation in the number of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Nearly one in five children in the commonwealth has been diagnosed with the disorder, according to numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 19 percent of Kentucky children ages 4-17 have, at some point, been diagnosed with ADHD. That’s well over the national average of 11 percent.

Indiana’s diagnosis rate is nearly 16 percent, with Tennessee’s rate is 15 percent

You can learn more about each state’s rate of ADHD diagnosis here.

The figures come from a 2011 national survey conducted by the CDCP, and show about 6 million children nationwide have received an ADHD diagnosis. It’s not known if the higher levels are the result of over-diagnoses by doctors, higher levels of awareness, or some combination of those and other factors.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has ceremonially signed into law a measure that would require Kentucky physicians to undergo training to detect signs of child abuse.

Republican Rep. Addia Wuchner sponsored the bill. Three other states have similar laws, and Wuchner says this will address Kentucky's problem with abuse-related fatalities and injuries.

“The statistics are heart-rendering. We all know them, we hear them repeatedly. There are numbers that we never wanted Kentucky to be number one in. We like being number one in basketball, and all those other arenas. But sadly, Kentucky’s children cried out that we do something differently," the GOP lawmaker said.

Beshear says the training will be funded in part by medical licensing fees.

Kentucky averages 29 child deaths each year due to abuse and neglect.

Lisa Autry

Kentucky’s public health commissioner is encouraged by the number of young adults who enrolled in health insurance on Kynect, the state’s online health exchange. 

Fifty percent of new enrollees were under the age of 35, which Dr. Stephanie Mayfield says should mean cost savings.

"You would think this would be a healthier population who would be accessing the system for preventive measures and not as many chronic diseases," explained Mayfield.  "It's an opportunity to intervene in the still relatively early years and have less of a financial impact on the system."

Dr. Mayfield spoke Tuesday at WKU about Kentucky’s health challenges. 

The state has several initiatives underway that include reducing the rates of smoking, obesity, and cancer deaths, all by 2019.

With this year's deadline to register for individual health insurance just a weekend away, much attention is being lavished on two numbers — the 6 million Americans who have signed up so far, and the percentage of those folks who are (or aren't) young.

But experts say the national numbers actually don't mean very much.

The number of drug-addicted babies in Kentucky who are hospitalized has increased significantly in a little more than a decade.

The Courier-Journal cited a recent report from the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center showing that the number has gone from 28 in 2000 to 824 in 2012.

Although a multi-pronged effort was launched last year to fight the rising number of addicted newborns, medical professionals say it's not enough. Treatment centers are struggling to stay open, there are waiting lists to get in, and too many babies are born struggling.

Preliminary figures in the state report suggested that number of newborns treated for addiction rose even further in 2013 to more than 900.

A bill that would permit state universities to research and prescribe medicinal cannabis oil has passed out of a House committee.

Lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 124 by a unanimous vote. 

The proposed legislation would permit the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky to study the effects of a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant that some say alleviate symptoms of some neurological disorders.

WKU

WKU is seeking to privatize the on-campus Health Center that serves students, faculty, and staff.

In an email to WKU employees Wednesday afternoon, President Gary Ransdell said he and Vice-President for Finance and Administration Ann Mead met with WKU Health Center staff to inform them of the decision.

Dr. Ransdell said the school could realize $1 million in savings by allowing a private operator to run the health center. He also said private sector medical providers could operate WKU Health Services in a more efficient manner, and offer "enchanced services" for students, faculty, and staff.

Dr.Ransdell described the WKU Health Center staff as “terrific”, and said the school would encourage the successful bidder to continue to employ current workers. However, the WKU President acknowledged that couldn’t be guaranteed.

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