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Daniel Brody, DMD, receives NATIONAL RECOGNITION

Valley Health – Fort Gay Family Dentist Receives Indispensable Man Award from NNOHA


Fort Gay, W.Va. – Valley Health is pleased to announce that one of its practitioners, Daniel Brody, DMD, received the Indispensable Man Award from the National Network for Oral Health Access (NNOHA) Board of Directors at the 2013 National Primary Oral Health Conference, recently held in Denver, Colo.

The conference, which had more than 600 attendees, was sponsored by NNOHA, a national organization whose mission it is to improve the oral health of underserved populations and contribute to overall health through leadership, advocacy and support to oral health providers in safety-net systems.

Dr. Brody was honored for the “talent, dedication, wisdom, guidance, and friendship we cannot imagine doing without, and without which we cannot imagine the successes we have achieved,” said NNOHA President, Wayne W. Cottam, DMD, MS, Associate Dean for Community Partnerships for the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health at Still University of Health Sciences.
Dr. Brody has been a member of NNOHA for 18 years and has served on the organization’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. He is also slated to chair the 2014 National Primary Oral Health Conference.
Dr. Brody is an actively-practicing family dentist, who has been instrumental in developing the Oral Health Program at Valley Health during his 29-year tenure, through which he has served in many capacities. He provides comprehensive family dentistry services to both children and adults at Valley Health - Fort Gay.

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Valley Health Systems, Inc. has been a leader in quality healthcare since 1975. Providing primary and preventative care to southern West Virginia and southeastern Ohio through the more than 30 health centers and public health programs it operates across the region, Valley Health’s medical experts provide care in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, behavioral health and dentistry. Valley Health also operates a full-service pharmacy and specializes in programs including Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition services, school-based health centers and programs for the homeless. Valley Health serves nearly 70,000 patients each year while maintaining its mission of providing quality health care to all individuals with an emphasis on reaching those who are underserved. 

Kentucky Health News

Events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism about health care and health in Kentucky


Night lingers in Appalachia, but there are rays of sunlight

In 1963, Harry Caudill of Letcher County published Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area, a book that brought national attention to poverty in Appalachia and spurred the War on Poverty. Fifty years later, as part of a year-long series, the Lexington Herald Leader is examining the challenges that Kentucky Appalachians still face on their path to progress, and the story of heartbreak and hope includes the region's contentious battle with drug abuse.

From 2000 to 2010, the number of drug-overdose deaths in Kentucky rose a staggering 296 percent, highlighting the state's drug abuse epidemic that now kills more than 1,000 Kentuckians a year. But communities have started to rise up and fight back against this lethal weapon, and for the first time in 10 years, deaths from prescription-drug abuse in Kentucky declined last year.

Still, the state's highest rates of overdose deaths are consistently found in Eastern Kentucky, where chronic poverty and economic hardships remain and numerous factors make it one of the worst areas in the nation for prescription drug abuse, experts say. Poverty is at the top of the list, reports Estep.

Social rank is also a key predictor of drug abuse, which consider how people see their place in the world and their ability to improve their lot, and many people in Eastern Kentucky rank low because of chronic poverty, Robert Walker, a researcher at the Center for Drug and Alcohol Research at the University of Kentucky, told Estep: "It's the belief that I can't do anything to fix this or make my life any better. That is a profound risk condition for drug abuse."

Another factor was the region's chronic health problems, reports Estep. It is well documented that Appalachians suffer from disproportionately poor health and have increased risks of adverse health outcomes, compared to the rest of the nation and the rest of the state; many people addressed these problems with drugs, which unintentionally led to drug addiction.

Public assistance also played a role in the developing drug abuse problem. "Medicaid recipients can get prescription drugs at little cost, and some people then resell them for cash," Estep writes. For example, in Clay County, which has the third highest rate of drug overdoses per 100,000 people, 42 percent of residents were eligible for Medicaid in fiscal 2012, compared with 18.8 percent statewide.

Eastern Kentucky's ongoing battle against pills started well before a decade ago as the area suffered economic devastation of the Great Depression and doctors handed out pills to mask pain for injured coal miners and the sick poor, Caudill wrote, adding that the drudgery of coal-camp life also drove the use of pills.

Fifty years later, Estep writes, "Rising drug abuse added misery to the economic malaise, and corruption among public officials inflamed the drug problem. Drug dealers helped power brokers buy votes, then benefited as some local police and other officials turned a blind eye to their illicit sales."

A story of heartbreak and hope in Manchester

Malanda AdamsMalanda AdamsThe story of one recovering addict, Melanda Adams, embodies these forces. Her home Clay County was at the center of the prescription-drug explosion, and her father, the county school superintendent, was convicted in a vote-buying scheme that he said he joined to help oust officials who were protecting drug dealers.

Social use of alcohol and drugs led Adams to start abusing drugs, but by the time she was 23, she was snorting as much as $800 worth of OxyContin pills and methamphetamine a day, she told Estep, adding that people start abusing drugs for a variety of reasons, and the shame of their addiction then becomes part of the reason to keep abusing them. "Your soul is tormented, really," she said.

Her craving for drugs led Adams to steal the ingredients that a drug dealer had provided her boyfriend to make a batch of meth, for which she suffered an almost fatal beating that still didn't curb her addiction. After stints in jail and in rehab, police found her agitated and bleeding in her home. She remained in jail for three months, where she suffered from the sharp pain of detoxification and withdrawal. Then she started on the road to recovery, reports Estep.

Fueling problems of addiction faced by thousands, Eastern Kentucky counties used corrupt relationships with local police and political officials in their illegal businesses, which included selling drugs.

Jurors convicted Adams' father, school Supt. Douglas Adams of vote fraud in a number of elections. As part of his defense, Adams said his motivation for getting involved in the most notorious election at issue in the trial, the 2002 primary for county clerk, was that the incumbent, Jennings B. White, had been protecting drug dealers, reports Estep. Adams said he was fighting against White to save his daughter and others who had fallen victim to drugs.

In the late 1990's, Congress designated Eastern Kentucky as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which led to efforts that helped dry up the county's drug rings. The FBI led investigations, "leveraging charges against drug dealers to pursue investigations of local officials," reports Estep. In the end, more than a dozen public officials or election offers in Clay County had been convicted. This shook up the local political structure, which was necessary for the community to take a stand against drugs, Estep reports.

Now, as a result of greater community awareness, activism against drugs, and targeted law enforcement, drug overdose deaths in Clay County have fallen from 43 in 2011 to 27 in 2012. Coroner Danny Finley also credits this reduction to better practices by many doctors, and new state laws that have cracked down on pain clinics and over-prescribing doctors, reports Estep.

While the fight against drugs is never over, Melanda Adams is proof that there's hope in Manchester and hope for Clay County. "She has clear eyes, a big laugh and a feisty 6-year-old daughter," reports Estep. She runs her own convenience store and says its important for drug addicts who feel trapped to know that they are more than just addicts. "There is a chance," she told Estep. "Give 'em that hope."

Posted by Molly Burchett


Humana will let Kentuckians keep their health insurance plan for another year if they like it;

By Molly Burchett
Kentucky Health News

At least one insurance company, Humana, will be allowing Kentuckians to keep their insurance coverage for another year if they like it, even if the policies aren't compliant with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Partially owning up to his reforms' rocky rollout last week, President Obama said people whose policies were being cancelled because they didn't comply with the law could renew their policies for another year -- if insurance companies are willing to do so and state regulators allow it. Kentucky is among the states allowing them to do so, and Humana is going along.

Humana -- and Anthem Blue Cross, if it follows suit -- will be required to tell such policyholders "what protections these renewed plans don't include" and that they have alternatives that may be better and cheaper on insurance exchanges, Obama said.

“Humana has been educating people about the full range of options, including the ability to retain their current coverage, in accordance and coordination with state law," a Humana spokesperson told Kentucky Health News. An Anthem spokesperson said the company is still reviewing its options.

About 280,000 Kentuckians -- almost all those in individual and small-group insurance market -- faced policy discontinuation, requiring them to get different insurance coverage.

Experts say there are a number of obstacles that could keep insurers from letting customers renew old policies, including the concern that the risk pools of the state's health-insurance exchange will be skewed. And, insurers will have to calculate how much they plan to charge for policies that were going to be discontinued.

“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” Karen Ignagni, the president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobbying group, told The New York Times.

Some insurers say the president's move is adding to the confusion that surrounds the health-care law and adding uncertainty to the insurance market. This may will discourage participation from a key group, young and healthy people who are needed to make insurance exchanges sustainable, reports The Washington Post.

There is doubt that insurance companies can do all of this in less than a month to ensure coverage is in place by Jan. 1. It is unclear how, as a practical matter, the changes proposed by the president can be put into effect, National Association of Insurance Commissioners President Jim Donelon said last week. And, even if they do, the proposed changes only last a year.

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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