A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Bills dealing with insulin cost, substance-use disorder and long-term-care staffing advance

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Health-related bills are on the move in the General Assembly, with several of them passing out of their respective chambers this week. House bills sent to the Senate include one that would help some Kentuckians with diabetes pay for their life-saving medication, another aimed at decreasing the stigma around getting syringes and needles in drug stores, and one...

A quarter of Ky’s community health center visits are via telehealth; bill would codify temporary rules

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A bill to codify telehealth provisions that were put into place during the pandemic to temporarily relax some of the regulations has passed out of committee and awaits a hearing in the full House. Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, who is the co-sponsor of House Bill 140, told Kentucky Health News that it is very important for this telehealth bill to pass. “I...

Pandemic metrics continue to fall in Kentucky, but state’s infection rate remains one of the highest

County infection-rate ranges since start of pandemic, with lowest and highest marked. For other counties, via an interactive map from the American Communities Project, visit www.americancommunities.org. By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Two major measures of the pandemic in Kentucky, new cases of the novel coronavirus and newly listed Covid-19 deaths, dropped sharply Saturday. The state reported only...

CDC study suggests rural K-12 schools could safely open for in-person learning with proper precautions

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A new study shows that rural schools holding in-person classes with heavy masking, social distancing and limited group sizes had few transmissions of the novel coronavirus. But a separate analysis shows that such precautions are not always being taken. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 13-week study involved 4,876 students and 654 staff from...

Kentucky hospitals to follow higher quality standards to get more money from Medicaid

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News With up to 28 rural Kentucky hospitals vulnerable to closure if their financial situation does not improve, the announcement of a new payment model to increase the amount Kentucky’s hospitals are paid for Medicaid patients is cause for their celebration. “Improved reimbursement for Kentucky’s hospitals is vital for their survival. Medicaid…...

Fast virus spread raises fear U.S. has developed more contagious strain; White House says get tested

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News The novel coronavirus is spreading so fast among Americans that federal officials suspect a new, more contagious strain of the virus has evolved in the U.S., in addition to the more virulent strain that has already spread here from the United Kingdom. That possibility is mentioned in the latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the Kentucky version...

Ky. shows little progress in latest health rankings; we’re getting less exercise, diabetes has increased

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky again ranks near the bottom in two big health measures: 48th for health behaviors and 46th for health outcomes, according to the America’s Health Rankings report from the United Health Foundation. Most of the reasons are familiar, such as a high percentage of Kentuckians with more than one chronic condition — such as diabetes, which has become...

Public health officials, workers have become ‘a public punching bag’; one in 10 have quit during pandemic

Local public-health officials and workers “have found themselves at the center of a political storm as they combat the worst pandemic in a century,” and one in 10 in Kentucky have left their jobs for one reason or another, Kaiser Health News and The Associated Press report. “Amid a fractured federal response, the usually invisible army of workers charged with preventing the spread...

Kentucky’s contact-tracing program lacks specific data sought by Republican leaders in Frankfort

When Gov. Andy Beshear shut down indoor dining in restaurants and bars to slow the increasing spread of the coronavirus, “criticism from Republican leaders in Frankfort was both swift and predictable,” Joe Sonka of the Louisville Courier-Journal notes in a story about the effort to trace past contacts of those with the virus. Republican legislative leaders reiterated their complaint about...

Only 145 cases of flu confirmed in Kentucky, but experts say it’s too early to call the season mild

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky has confirmed one-sixth as many flu cases this season as at this time last season, but the state’s top doctor says it’s too soon to read much into that. “It is too early to celebrate a mild influenza season in Kentucky,” Health Commissioner Steven Stack in an e-mail. “The onset of peak influenza season varies from year to year, and...

National story on nursing homes and pandemic highlights case of Ky. staffer who died of covid

A Kentucky example figures prominently in a national story about nursing homes, their staffs, their residents and families dealing with the pandemic. “Burnout is stalking the country’s nursing homes,” Will England’s story begins. “Even as the coronavirus peaks yet again, remaining staffers are worn out, often fed up with the companies they work for, and yet many say they are...

In south-central Ky., health workers and officials battle coronavirus fatigue, politicization of pandemic

Health officials are working “to convince a skeptical public in south-central Kentucky of the risk of catching the deadly virus racing through the region, taking lives and putting an ever-growing number of people in the hospital,” Deborah Yetter of the Louisville Courier Journal reports after a trip to Glasgow, Tompkinsville and Bowling Green. Courtney Calloway’s co-workers gave her...

Planning a Thanksgiving gathering? Here are questions to ask, and expert advice about testing

Photo by Getty Images via Kentucky Health News. Because just about everything that involves a traditional Thanksgiving meal creates a perfect storm to spread the virus that causes COVID-19, health experts are encouraging people to scale back holiday gatherings to just those in their immediate household, or to practice what epidemiologists call “harm reduction” if they choose to gather. That...

Center for Smoke-free Policy recognizes individuals, organizations that create smoke-free communities

The Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy honored communities, groups and individuals from across the state who are making progress in creating healthier, smoke-free communities. The awards were presented Nov. 10 at a virtual award ceremony. “Kentucky has had an amazing year as we now have 38 communities with comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws, covering 36.2 percent of Kentuckians,” said...

Economists say random testing required to know true cornavirus impact; examples indicate lower mortality

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The best way to determine the true impact of the novel coronavirus in Kentucky would be to do random testing of the population, instead of the current approach that only gathers test information from people who choose to get tested, according to a paper commissioned by the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise at the University of Kentucky. “To accurately...

Christian Co. health director goes behind daily data to tell covid-19 “stories to pull at your heart strings”

The front-line fighters against the coronavirus are employees of local health departments, who find their jobs increasingly difficult. People exposed to the virus won’t self-quarantine, or won’t answer the phone if they think the call is from a contact tracer at the health department. And as the pandemic accelerates, health-department employees lose more of their friends and relatives to...

Kentucky in White House task force’s worst zone for coronavirus as cases continue rising in past week

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Again, Kentucky is in the worst danger zone for its coronavirus case numbers, with the 18th-highest rate in the country, according to this week’s White House Coronavirus Task Force report. Being in the White House red zone for cases means the state has 101 or more new cases per 100,000 residents. Kentucky’s cases have been increasing for weeks. The...

Experts say COVID-19 vaccine will come with challenges and cautions after distribution

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Even after a vaccine is approved for the novel coronavirus and is widely distributed, it will still be important to follow public-health recommendations to thwart the spread of the virus, including basic hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing a mask. That’s partly because the vaccine only has to be 50 percent effective at preventing COVID-19, and the...

Panel says colorectal cancer screenings should begin at 45, following cancer society guidelines

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A federal task force now recommends that adults with a normal risk for colorectal cancer get their first screening at age 45, instead of 50, as the American Cancer Society has recommended since 2018. Kentucky already requires health insurance plans to start screening for colorectal cancer at 45, and pay for it without any patient cost sharing, under legislation...

Two-thirds of Kentuckians approve of Beshear’s COVID-19 efforts, 60 percent support mask mandate

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentuckians polled Oct. 7-15 gave Gov. Andy Beshear good grades for handling the coronavirus pandemic and supported the idea of state law to require wearing of masks in public. (Graph from Spectrum Networks) The poll, and released Oct. 21, found that 37 percent of Kentucky adults strongly approved Beshear’s handling of the crisis, with another 28 percent saying they...