Health

What Kentuckians Need To Know About The Zika Virus

Feb 5, 2016
Creative Commons

The Zika virus has generated plenty of concern — and media coverage — as it spreads through Central and South America, with the the World Health Organization going as far as this week declaring a public health emergency.

The virus, transmitted through mosquito bites, is linked to the birth defect microcephaly, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development and abnormal smallness of the head.

International health officials expect the Zika virus to spread farther — but people may not have much of a risk of contracting it in Kentucky anytime in the near future.

Mapping Zika: From A Monkey In Uganda To A Growing Global Concern

The type of mosquito that is known to carry the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, is rarely found in Kentucky, said Dr. Grayson Brown,  entomologist in the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

“It’s a mosquito that we have in Kentucky, but only about one out of about every 5,000 mosquitoes is an Aedes aegypti . So, they’re not very common and they don’t start showing up here until very late in the summer,” Brown said.

Norton Healthcare

A new national survey shows Kentucky and Arkansas lead the nation in the largest drops of the number of people without health insurance.

The Gallup-Healthways survey shows more than 20 percent of Kentuckians did not have health insurance in 2013. Last year, just 7.5 percent of the state’s population did not have insurance. Arkansas had a similar drop.

The survey shows states that expanded Medicaid and operated a state exchange outperformed other states in the percentage of people who have insurance.

Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has already given the order to dismantle the state exchange and is seeking to reform the state Medicaid system.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky’s leader is hopeful the organization can soon resume providing abortions at its downtown Louisville clinic.

The Planned Parenthood chapter began providing abortions at the recently opened Louisville facility on Jan. 21, but Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration ordered it to cease providing abortion services on Friday. The administration said Planned Parenthood’s application for a license to perform abortions was deficient. The license was never formally issued.

What’s not immediately clear is what may happen if Planned Parenthood resolves the issues in the application indicated by the Bevin administration.

Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said the Planned Parenthood chapter will work to address the issues that Bevin administration has cited.

Kentucky State Government

The leader of the Kentucky Youth Advocates is renewing his call for state lawmakers to pass an Earned Income Tax Credit.

Terry Brooks points out the federal government and 32 states offer the program.

The refundable credit is aimed at low-to-moderate working individuals and couples, and is based on income and number of children.

Brooks says the program has gained bipartisan support throughout the years.

“What I love about it from a political perspective is that the EITC was invented by Richard Nixon, and its three biggest fans were Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama.”

Brooks says an Earned Income Tax Credit would be an effective tool in fighting poverty in the Bluegrass State.

A report issued by the Kentucky Youth Advocates last fall showed 26 percent of the state’s youth live in poverty.

“Unless, and until, we as a commonwealth begin to address that aspect of what it means to grow up in Kentucky, health outcomes, academic achievement outcomes, safety outcomes are all going to be tamped down,” Brooks said.

WKU Public Radio

Western Kentucky University students struggling with mental health issues can now tap into an on-campus support group.  

The National Alliance for Mental Illness is starting the free and confidential program which is available to students in all degree programs.

The group’s first meeting is Feb. 1 from 6:00-7:30pm in room 211 of the Academic Complex. Meetings will be held twice a month.

WKU Social Work Professor Jay Gabbard is the faculty member overseeing the group, along with trained NAMI staff.

He wants students to know that having a mental illness doesn’t mean they can’t succeed in school and in the workplace.

“I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 20, and through management of the illness over the years I’ve managed to have a successful life,” Gabbard said. “But I think it’s best to utilize a three-pronged approach: medication, therapy, and support resources.”

Ryland Barton, Kentucky Public Radio

The state inspector general ordered the Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky to immediately cease providing abortion on Thursday, the same day the organization announced it had begun offering the services.

In a letter sent to LaToya Rose, director of the Planned Parenthood chapter, acting Inspector General Stephane Hold said that the organization’s application for an abortion license had been found “deficient.”

In Kentucky, abortion facilities are required to have an agreement with an acute care hospital and an ambulance service that can provide treatment for abortion patients who have complications during the procedure.

The inspector general said in the letter that Planned Parenthood’s documentation of an emergency hospital and ambulance service were inadequate.

“The absence of adequate written agreements with an acute care hospital and a local ambulance service prevent us from continuing our review of your application at this time,” the letter said.

CDC Anti-Smoking Campaign Targets Kentucky

Jan 25, 2016
Flickr/Creative Commons/Ed Schipul

Louisville resident Linda Wood said she has smoked cigarettes since she was 16. Now 50, Wood said she’s seen television ads in the past showing the health issues caused by smoking.

“It makes you want to cut back a lot. And I have went from three packs a week to one pack,” Wood said.

Wood said when she watches the ads of Terrie Hall speaking with the aid of an artificial voice box, she thinks “that could be me.”

Wood said she is on her way to quitting.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is hoping to reach more people like Wood. The CDC launched an anti-smoking campaign Monday that targets people living in states with high smoking rates, including Kentucky.

Flickr/Creative Commons/401(K) 2012

Federal officials are unsure how much the government will recoup of the $1.2 billion spent on loans and startup costs for a dozen health care cooperatives that later failed, including Kentucky’s.

The situation with the Kentucky Health Cooperative is complicated by the liquidation of the entity, which a state court ordered this month.

Under the Affordable Care Act, co-ops were created to increase competition among plans and improve consumer choice, according to a recent story by USA Today.

Of the 23 co-ops created, a dozen have failed, including Kentucky Health Cooperative.

About $2.4 billion of federal funds was put into the creation of the startup health insurance providers.

Since it was established, Kentucky Health Care Cooperative has been awarded a total of $146 million in federal loans, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Editor's note: A version of this post first appeared in January 2015.

Many people will see the snow currently blanketing much of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard as a nuisance coating sidewalks and roads. Others are celebrating it as an excuse to spend the day swooshing down a hill.

As for me, I like to think of snow as food.

Flickr/Creative Commons/401(K) 2012

The Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at the University of Louisville has been awarded a multimillion-dollar federal grant to bring health care to rural and medically underserved Kentuckians.

The $2.55 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be used to create the Kentucky Rural & Underserved Geriatric Interprofessional Program.

The three-year initiative will partner with organizations from six rural counties in Kentucky: Hart, Metcalfe, Barren, Bullitt, Henry and Shelby.

Dr. Anna Faul, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at U of L, said the program is designed to help primary care practices in rural areas deliver care to older adults with chronic conditions.

“You really need an integrated approach where you can work with all of these professionals, and they can come around the table and create care plans that can be effective and also empowering for the older adult,” she said.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

An increased number of Kentuckians are affected by heroin abuse, according to a Kentucky Health Issues Poll released this week.

The poll asked adult Kentucky residents about the influence of drug misuse on their family members and friends.

It found 13 percent of Kentucky adults have a family member or friend who’s experienced issues because of using heroin. In 2013, only 9 percent of respondents answered yes to the same question.

The poll was produced by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

In 2012, state lawmakers passed legislation to address so-called pill mills. Last year, state officials said the “pill-mill bill” had been effective in reducing prescription drug abuse.

Flickr/Creative Commons/UW Health

Kentucky has seen an uptick in the number of pertussis cases, or whooping cough.  State health officials reported 87 cases between August and December of last year with the most cases occurring in Jefferson County and the Northern Kentucky region. 

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease caused by bacteria and transmitted through sneezing, coughing, or talking. 

Teresa Casey works in communicable diseases with the Barren River District Health Department in Bowling Green.  She told WKU Public Radio that some groups are most at risk than others.

"We're very concerned about children under the age of one, pregnant women, people who have any kind of chronic breathing condition," Casey said.

Those conditions include cystic fibrosis, asthma, and severe heart disease. 

Whooping cough can be especially dangerous in infants, who should start receiving the the vaccine at two months of age.  Adults, especially parents and caregivers, should also be up to date on immunizations.

Kevin Willis

Bowling Green is partnering with a Nashville company to provide health care for city employees and their dependents.

The City Care Center will open Friday in 1,100 square feet of renovated space in the city hall annex.

Mayor Bruce Wilkerson says the city expects to save as much as $125,000 a year in health care costs with the new arrangement.

The care center will initially be staffed by a registered nurse for 20 hours a week.

Dr. Jane Gibson will be on site 16 hours a week.

"We've tried to make the hours somewhat flexible to accommodate employees,” Dr. Gibson said. “So we open early at 7:00 in the morning one day, and we stay until 6:00 another day, and work through lunch hours. It helps get people in without missing work."

WFPL News

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has notified the federal government that Kentucky will dismantle its state health insurance exchange, Kynect.

The move will direct Kentuckians seeking health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to use the federal health insurance site, healthcare.gov.

More than 500,000 people have gotten health insurance through Kynect.

In a statement from the governor’s office, Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto called the program a “redundancy.”

“The transition will have no impact on Kentuckians’ ability to obtain or continue health care coverage for the 2016 plan year,” Ditto said.

For decades, if people on Medicaid wanted to get treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, they almost always had to rely solely on money from state and local sources.

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