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So You've Decided to Get a Colonoscopy


By Thomas H. Frazier, M.D.

Dr. FrazierDr. FrazierLouisa, KY – Making the decision to get a colonoscopy is one that many people seem to struggle with.  While no one argues with the wisdom of screening for colon cancer, concerns about the preparation, discomfort, or invasiveness often keep folks from my office.  Because my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, not only did I get to see the disease  from the perspective of someone I knew and loved, but I also learned the importance of early screening – and I had a colonoscopy at age 30.  Knowing that I could drastically reduce my chances of developing colon cancer made the decision easy.  And the preparation and test were not as bad as I thought they’d be.

Colonoscopy is one of the only screening tests that can both detect and prevent cancer.  Colorectal cancer is life-changing, and can be fatal. It can involve surgery, colostomy bags, chemotherapy and radiation.  The most common excuse for not getting a colonoscopy is, “I don’t have any symptoms.”  My reply is always the same: “That means you are the perfect patient for a screening exam!” Colon cancer precursors called “polyps”, or small growths in the colon, do not commonly cause any symptoms and, if removed prior to developing into cancer, can never become cancer.  Another excuse I often hear, as a doctor who lives and works in the community is, “I know you and your family, so I’m embarrassed to have this kind of test.”  My reply is, “Who is more likely to treat you like family, me or someone down the road?”  Besides, no one is unclothed or exposed in any way during colonoscopy in my endoscopy unit.

Once the decision is made, the next question is the right place and person to perform the procedure?  The answer is simple: Three Rivers Medical Center no other hospital in the area has a gastroenterologist born and raised here in eastern Kentucky.  My staff and I are among the most experienced and qualified professionals in the tri-state area.   My continued involvement on staff at the University of Louisville keeps me up to date on the latest approaches in gastrointestinal care. Finally, no other hospital in the tri-state actually measures the quality of your diagnostic test, in addition to the results. (More on that below).

Because of our devotion to providing quality care, TRMC is the first and only hospital in the area that measures, analyses and compares outcomes and complications relating to colon cancer screening.  We are the only hospital in the area to achieve The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) recognition for our devotion to quality endoscopic care.  We track our own performance, such as how often a doctor finds and removes polyps (polyp detection rate), the amount of time he/she spends looking for polyps (withdrawal time), and how well they are able to see during your colonoscopy (prep quality).  These are proven ways of determining the quality of your screening exam.  At TRMC, we are not only measuring these things, but we are performing above the standards set forth by regulatory boards.  In other words, we don’t just say we are good, we can show it.

About the Author: Thomas H. Frazier, M.D., a specially trained, dual board-certified physician who diagnoses and treats diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.  In addition to his two office locations, Dr. Frazier also serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville for the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition; and Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, University of Pikeville, KY, College of Osteopathic Medicine.  He is a member of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.  For more information or to contact Dr. Frazier’s office you can call 606-638-4656 or visit

Medical marijuana activists rally in Frankfort;


People from around the country rallied at the Kentucky Capitol Wednesday hoping to ultimately influence state lawmakers to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Members of the House and Senate Committee on Health and Welfare listened to passionate testimony along with occasional outbursts from the audience in what Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, called a historic hearing.

Clark pointed out that 20 states plus Washington D.C. have permitted people to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“We can’t really say that marijuana has no medicinal value,” Clark said. “The cat’s out of the bag. Marijuana is a medicine; it is a forbidden medicine.”

The senator called current marijuana prohibition laws “hypocrisy” and pointed out that the federal government actually holds a patent for the plant.

Irvin Rosenfeld of Florida is a medical marijuana patient who is one of four Americans authorized by the federal government to hold a prescription. Rosenfeld, born with a rare debilitating bone disease, said without decades of cannabis he would likely be dead or homebound and a “drain on society.” The stockbroker used marijuana illegally for about a decade, but successfully fought federal officials and won the legal right to have a prescription in 1982.

Before turning to cannabis, Rosenfeld took potentially addictive prescription drugs such as morphine, Valium and now-outlawed Quaaludes. He pointed out that morphine is synthetic heroin; Chuck Thompson of Paducah voiced similar sentiments about the popular prescription painkiller methadone and pointed out that Nazi scientists invented methadone.

Thompson, who uses a wheelchair due to severe limb swelling and nerve damage, says he was prosecuted under current state laws for using marijuana for medicinal purposes. As a result, he risks five years imprisonment for any further illicit cannabis use and says he is forced to take four methadone pills a day to alleviate his “chronic, excruciating pain.”

“I am a medicine user,” Thompson said. “I am not a drug abuser.”

After the session, dozens of activists including Randy Grimes of Stanford and Paula Kaye Willett of Marshall County met at the steps of the Capitol Annex building.

“It has never killed anybody,” Grimes said. “(Medical marijuana) is even legal in D.C. where the President of the United States lives.”

Willett, who had hoped to testify before the committee but did not get an opportunity to do so, has battled numerous medical problems since the 1970s including chronic pain from two motor vehicle collisions, anxiety, depression and an inflammation of the colon.

“The one plant that God Himself put on this planet for man’s use helps everything that is wrong with my body,” Willett said. “…I do not use cannabis to get ‘high’ and have a party; I use cannabis to heal my body and bring me closer to my Creator and help make me a better person, a better mom and able to do my job as a mom and be productive in society.”

By Stephanie Mojica
The Advocate Messenger

State to create more community services for persons with serious mental illness

Kentucky Press News Service

Those Kentucky residents who have serious mental illness may receive additional housing and state support after two state agencies have reached agreement on the need to increase such services.

The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, which protects and promotes the rights of individuals with disabilities, announced Friday they have reached agreement that will provide additional services for eligible persons who have serious mental illness and who live in or are at risk of residing in a personal care home.

P&A Director Marsha Hockensmith said in a news release that her agency has visited many personal care homes across that state over the last four years and the agreement represents a top priority for the agency.

“P&A staff have met with and listened to the requests for assistance from personal care home residents and witnessed their isolation,” Hockensmith said. “Persons with mental illness represent some of the last to receive funding for comprehensive community services and supports in Kentucky. This agreement will afford choice in terms of living arrangement and service array to many persons with mental illness and represents a serious systemic change in Kentucky's treatment of individuals with mental illness. We applaud CHFS’s leadership under Secretary Haynes to address this matter and look forward to assuring that this agreement creates the necessary infrastructure to allow all persons with serious mental illness to successfully live in the community, as is their right.”

It's estimated there are some 2,300 persons, most with serious mental illness, currently receiving the state supplement and residing in personal care homes.

As noted in the agreement, “P&A and the Cabinet acknowledge that the relief . . . will not initially afford relief to all potential class members, but enter into this agreement in good faith based upon the Cabinet’s promises . . . that such supports and services will be expanded to include other individuals in a subsequent agreement.” 

“You don’t get help like this every day,” Donald Dyer, a long-time resident of Waynesburg Manor in Lincoln County and one of the potential named plaintiffs, said in the news release. “Many people don’t know we are out here sick and alone. Waynesburg Manor was not my home. I am happy and joyful I am leaving the personal care home and getting my own place.”

The two agencies began negotiating in order to avoid possible litigation on behalf of individuals with serious mental illness. The agreement was based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, the news release said.

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