A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Whitesburg primary care physician Dr. Van Breeding named Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion

Whitesburg primary care physician Van S. Breeding has been named a Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky for his leadership in fighting the substance use crisis in Letcher, Harlan, Perry, Owsley and Bell counties.

The award recognizes individuals and organizations working to improve the health of Kentuckians through policy change.

Dr. Van Breeding was named Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Breeding is now eligible for the Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion of the Year award, which comes with a $5,000 grant from the Foundation to a Kentucky-based nonprofit of the winner’s choice. The winner of that award will be announced on Sept. 24 at the Foundation’s Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum in Lexington.

“Dr. Breeding cares deeply about the well-being of people as is evident in his work as a physician and with the community,” said Dr. Frances J. Feltner, director of the University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health, in nominating Dr. Breeding for the award. “We in Eastern Kentucky face significant health challenges, including some of the highest rates of chronic disease and now the opioid crisis.

“Dr. Breeding spearheaded the creation of HEAL – Help End Addiction for Life – in early 2018 to leverage the strengths of a variety of organizations in the region to focus on this crisis. It’s already making an impact. Health care agencies are coordinating efforts, more treatment is available, and overdoses are down.”

HEAL is a nonprofit consortium of federal, state and local agencies, both public and private, that have combined resources to work on addiction prevention, education, treatment and recovery. Breeding, a native of Letcher County, has been practicing medicine in Eastern Kentucky for 25 years and leads the monthly meetings.

Among HEAL’s accomplishments, the consortium helped spur a needle exchange program in Letcher County in partnership with the Letcher County Health Department. Also, patients dealing with addiction now have access to “Peer Support Specialists” in area hospitals and clinics, thanks to a partnership with Addiction Recovery Care. HEAL has provided services for 130 patients in Eastern Kentucky since its launch.

“This is the kind of progress that can be made when committed organizations come together, share resources and collaborate to solve a community problem,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “Dr. Breeding’s leadership in launching and energizing HEAL is exactly what the Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion Award was created to recognize and promote. He is making a difference in Letcher County and he is an example to his colleagues throughout the state.”

Breeding also is known for support of nutrition programs to combat diabetes, and his efforts to increase colon cancer screenings. He is Director of Clinical Affairs at Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation and is affiliated with the Whitesburg ARH Hospital. He earned his medical degree from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.

Nominations for the Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion Award are accepted at any time and must be supported by at least one letter of endorsement from a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors or Community Advisory Council. Feltner, who nominated Breeding, is a member of the Council. See details on the Foundation’s website.

From Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky

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