A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lexington physician Dr. Dale Toney becomes KMA president; has practiced medicine for 30 years

Dale Toney, M.D., a Lexington internist, became the 170th president of the Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) over the weekend during the organization’s annual meeting, which was held virtually for the first time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. KMA members also elected three other officers during the 2020 meeting. Neal Moser, M.D., of Crestview Hills was elected president-elect, Michael Kuduk,...

A day in the life of a UK COVID-19 contact tracer: ‘That call can be really hard for some to receive’

By Lindsey Piercy University of Kentucky It’s 8 a.m., and it’s time for Eryn Clayton to pick up the phone and begin dialing. There’s a pause as the call connects. A University of Kentucky student is on the other end. Clayton smiles sympathetically as she introduces herself — she will be the first to inform them they have tested positive for COVID-19. “That call can be really hard for...

Nursing homes ‘need help’ from state; residents account for 58.6 percent of Kentucky’s COVID deaths

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As they remain the main sites for deadly infections of the novel coronavirus, Kentucky’s nursing homes are asking for more help from the state, which says much of the help they seek has already been provided or can’t be rendered. At a legislative committee meeting Aug. 26, the head of Kentucky’s main nursing-home association said nursing homes...

Virus has spread too much for contact tracing to contain, but tracing can help if people cooperate

By Lisa Gillespie Kentucky Health News In wide swaths of Kentucky, tracing the contacts of people with the coronavirus is no longer preventing its spread, because the spread has become too wide. Instead, it is, at best, slowing the disease rate. And many people don’t cooperate with the contact-tracing process. That’s according to several local health department officials, including Roanya...

Kentucky’s childhood immunization rates have plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service There’s been a sharp decline in vaccination rates among Kentucky children since the onset of the coronavirus. And health experts say they are concerned about the confluence of COVID-19, flu season and the potential for other infectious-disease outbreaks. The state’s Department of Medicaid Services reports among Medicaid recipients, from March through...

CDC publishes article on Kentucky monitoring system to guide decisions in reopening and response

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As health departments across the nation help states safely reopen their economies and schools, the monitoring system Kentucky officials use to guide their decisions has been lauded in a recent federal report as an example for other states to follow. The report, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly...

Kentucky shows fewer counties in ‘red zone’ last week, according to White House COVID-19 report

Kentucky got a better report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force this week, with 52 counties in danger zones for the reporting week of Aug. 15-21. The previous week, 63 of the state’s 120 counties were on those lists. (Click for larger image) Sixteen counties were in the task force’s “red zone” for places where new cases of the virus numbered more than 1 per 1,000 residents...

Syringe exchange programs could decrease IV drug-use infections, result in ‘big money saved’

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A new analysis of Medicaid claims data suggests that Kentucky counties with syringe-service programs have slightly lower rates of diseases associated with intravenous drug use, such as HIV and hepatitis C. The analysis estimated a progressive reduction of 0.5 percent per month, adding up to a 6 percent increase over a year. That can add up to savings, not only...

Kentucky to expand, improve behavioral health treatment services, add additional certified clinics

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) has announced that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has selected Kentucky to create, evaluate and certify community behavioral health clinics through a two-year demonstration program. The clinics will treat children and adults, primarily those with mental illness, emotional disturbances and/or substance use disorders. “Opioid-related...

Kentucky Health News: Tips for safe outdoor, social gatherings during this pandemic-impacted holiday

As last days of summer approach and pandemic continues — here are tips for safe outdoot and social gatherings: First, remember that any such gathering needs to be small. Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order on July 20 that only allows for gatherings of 10 or fewer people.  The order also calls for such gatherings to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to...

New campaign designed to counter sharp decline in vaccination rate launched across Kentucky

A new campaign designed to counter the sharp decline in vaccination rates among Kentucky children launched Thursday across the state. Raise Your Guard, KY urges Kentuckians to contact their physicians to get themselves and their families back on track with scheduled immunizations to prevent dozens of life-threatening diseases and illnesses. The month-long, multimedia campaign also reminds residents...

For veteran telemedicine doctor at UK, pandemic confirms need to improve systems of care

By Mallory Powell University of Kentucky By the time the pandemic forced many patients and providers into telemedicine, ophthalmologist Dr. Ana Bastos de Carvalho had been using it for years. As co-founder of the University of Kentucky’s Global Ophthalmology (UKGO) program, she has helped build and expand a statewide telemedicine eye screening program for diabetic patients in disadvantaged rural...

White House virus task force puts more than half of Kentucky counties in ‘red’ or ‘yellow’ danger zone

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The latest weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force report on Kentucky showed an increase in both red and yellow zones last week, with the number of counties in the red zone increasing by 54 percent. Twenty counties, up from 13, were in the task force’s “red zone” for places where new cases of the virus numbered more than 1 per 1,000 residents...

UK HealthCare partners with state to begin free community COVID-19 testing at two sites on Aug. 24

The ​Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Department for Public Health is partnering with the University of Kentucky and UK HealthCare ​to begin free drive-up COVID-19 testing for the community at two sites beginning Aug. 24, UK officials have announced. “Kentucky remains at war with the coronavirus, and a robust testing program is essential to protecting one another, fully reopening our economy and...

Hopkinsville journalist surprised to test positive for COVID-19, because she had been very careful

The coronavirus pandemic hit unexpectedly close to home recently for Jennifer P. Brown, founder and editor of digital startup The Hoptown Chronicle in Hopkinsville. Brown, former editor of Hopkinsville’s daily newspaper, the Kentucky New Era, writes that she tested positive for COVID-19 in July despite taking every precaution: “I was motivated to avoid an illness that could put me in the...

Public Health officials defend data, call it imperfect but useful, and explain support for school delay

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A legislative committee meeting to review how the state collects and reports coronavirus data shifted quickly Thursday to Republicans’ questions about Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s recommendation to delay in-person schooling until Sept. 28, and his general handling of the pandemic. “We don’t close our schools down for influenza, but we...

Eric Friedlander: Vigilance, protective measures are essential to save lives from overdoses in pandemic

“Together, we are stronger than opioids.” It’s a uniting mantra we use as part of the Kentucky Opioid Response Effort to guide our purpose, affirm our hope and call upon our greatest asset in this commonwealth: one another. Together, we are building a system of care to reduce harms associated with opioid use and prevent misuse, connect more people with evidence-based treatment, including...

Data briefs reveal 77 percent of Kentuckians currently worried about healthcare affordability

Three out of four Kentuckians (77 percent) are worried about affording healthcare, according to data briefs released by the Healthcare Value Hub in collaboration with the ThriveKY campaign. The findings come from a new Consumer Healthcare Experience State Survey (CHESS) of 1,140 Kentucky adults, conducted between May 8-May 26, 2020. Reported problems range from delaying going to the doctor (30 percent)...

Carrying around too many pounds? Vaccine for COVID-19 could be less effective for obese adults

Looking forward to getting a vaccine for the novel coronavirus when it becomes available? If you’re carrying around way too many pounds, it would be a good idea to lose some. “Vaccines engineered to protect the public from influenza, hepatitis B, tetanus and rabies can be less effective in obese adults than in the general population, leaving them more vulnerable to infection and illness,”...

Kentucky health chief tells businesses that masks are key; lawyer tells how to enforce mandate

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The state’s top physician often says that basic public-health measures – like washing our hands, staying six feet apart and wearing a mask – are all we have right now to thwart the spread of the novel coronavirus until we get a vaccine. But masks are the most important, he indicated Friday. “That single measure is felt to be really a linchpin...