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January 11, 2018

User-friendly program seen as success for state’s largest self-funded healthcare plan

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (January 11, 2018) - The Kentucky Personnel Cabinet and Secretary Tom Stephens announced $2.5 million in cost of care savings achieved through an innovative health and wellness service. The “LiveHealth Online Medical + Behavorial Health” initiative, made available to plan participants starting in June 2015, is a unique program allowing nearly 300,000 health plan members to take advantage of “virtual” doctor consultations and receive top-notch medical care from the convenience of their own homes at no cost to plan members.

Melissa Joan GartMelissa Joan Gart

This creative program allows participants to have access to free web-based medical professionals on-demand and saves the patients time, money and challenges in scheduling doctors’ appointments. This successful approach is viewed as an industry innovation and will continue to expand services throughout the year through enhanced outreach and marketing. In addition to medical and behavorial specialties, psychiatric “virtual visits” began in January of this year.

Secretary Stephens said, “This service is incredibly user-friendly. It lets you talk face-to-face with a doctor through your mobile device or a computer with a webcam. It’s faster, easier and more convenient than a visit to an urgent care center.”

In addition, the cost benefits to Kentucky should continue to improve as people take further advantage of this user-friendly program.

The Secretary continued, “With LiveHealth Online Medical there are no appointments, no waiting and no sitting in traffic. It’s quick, easy and connects you to a doctor of your choice in minutes.”

“As a parent, I find this program so worthwhile. Why does it seem that your child gets ill after traditional doctor’s office hours are closed?” asked Secretary Stephens.

The Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan (KEHP) is the state’s largest self-insured health plan with benefits designed in partnership with multiple vendors to provide greater access to quality healthcare with increased customer service.

The Kentucky Executive Branch is the state’s largest employer with over 30,000 employees throughout the state of Kentucky.

 

 

January 8, 2018

 

New program to put local produce in their hands and support Ky. fruit and vegetable growers

 

Commissioner Ryan Quarles has said it before, and he'll say it again: It is unacceptable to have a hunger problem in a state so steeped in agricultural history.

So on Monday, the leader of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture announced a new incentive program that will further attempt to end hunger while supporting local fruit and vegetable growers.

Specifically, the first-of-its-kind program will combat food insecurity for Kentucky children by encouraging administrators of free summer meals programs to purchase more fruits and vegetables from area farmers, Quarles said at the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Lexington.

 

On Monday, the leader of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture announced a new incentive program that will further attempt to end hunger while supporting local fruit and vegetable growers.On Monday, the leader of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture announced a new incentive program that will further attempt to end hunger while supporting local fruit and vegetable growers.

 

Currently, one in five Kentucky kids are considered food insecure, meaning they don't always know where they'll find their next meal, Quarles said. The summer programs — run by churches, community centers and other organizations — are designed to provide those kids free meals in months when they aren't getting lunch at school.

In 2016, summer programs statewide served approximately 2.8 million meals estimated to cost more than $9 million, Quarles said. At least $600,000 of that total was spent on vegetables alone.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses the programs for each meal they serve. But now, Quarles hopes to encourage programs to purchase more fruits and vegetables from local farmers by offering a second reimbursement.

Through the new Kentucky-grown Fruit and Vegetable Incentive Program, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will reimburse summer programs one-third of the dollars they spend on produce from Kentucky farmers.

Money for the program was granted by the Kentucky Agriculture Development Board, which designated $185,000 in tobacco settlement funds to the program's first year, Quarles said.

That amount should equate to about $550,000 spent on Kentucky-grown fruits and vegetables by summer meal programs that decide to participate.

Administrators of the summer programs often think local produce is too expensive or too much of a hassle to purchase, Quarles said.

To combat those hurdles, Quarles said the department of agriculture will work with the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Association of Food Banks to inform summer meal programs of the incentive and to connect them with nearby farmers.

"The point is to create a financial incentive to look to Kentucky farmers first," Quarles said. "... We can help kids who do not have access to stable foods and leverage dollars to support local farmers."

To participate in the incentive program, summer meal sponsors must be approved by the Kentucky Department of Education. They must also submit a K-VIP Enrollment application to the Kentucky Association of Food Banks at kykidseat.org/kvip by April 15.

Enrolled sponsors will be required to submit reimbursement claims to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture by Sept. 15 and will receive their payments on or about Oct. 31.

 

By Bailey Loosemore
Courier-Journal

 

 

December 15, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 14, 2017) – Members of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Rep. John Sims' medical cannabis task force on Thursday discussed the concepts of a legislative proposal for the 2018 legislative session. The legislation is anticipated to be bipartisan.

 

Members of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Rep. John Sims' medical cannabis task force Members of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Rep. John Sims' medical cannabis task force

"In the weeks since we announced this effort on medical cannabis, I've heard the stories of Kentuckians in every part of the state – countless veterans, single parents, grandmothers, Parkinson's patients, and many more," said Grimes. "The stories are real and heart-wrenching. This moment is a gut check for Kentucky. Every elected official has a duty to stand up now and work toward giving people access to medicine that can help them, and I'm hoping every one of us will."

The Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine reports that opioid overdose deaths have fallen by 25% in states that have legalized medical marijuana. The Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine reports that opioid overdose deaths have fallen by 25% in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

The Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine reports that opioid overdose deaths have fallen by 25% in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

In Kentucky, where the 2014 veteran suicide was 10% higher than the national average, many veterans and their physicians say that medical cannabis is the most effective treatment for chronic pain and PTSD. Numerous veterans attended the meeting, the task force's second.

The members also heard from Laura from Scott Co., the mother of a young woman who committed suicide earlier this year. She said her daughter suffered from a disorder that medical cannabis could have helped.

"I'm here for my daughter. I know that if she had had access to medical cannabis, she may be alive today," she said. "I am a personal testament to the benefits of medical cannabis. While dealing with my daughter's death, I have been prescribed high dosages of anxiety medicines, the side effects of which are life altering. CBD oil has helped me cope. It's a natural treatment and I am now completely off those other medicines. In my daughter's memory, I won't stop working until other Kentuckians can have real access to medical cannabis."

Besides benefits for PTSD, significant evidence exists showing marijuana counters side effects of many other illnesses and diseases, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Crohn's disease, and hepatitis C.

Grimes reiterated her call to Kentucky's cities and counties to back medical cannabis legislation.

"Medical cannabis can help their citizens. Many are veterans who fighting physical and mental illnesses, get care and relief they need. The people it can help are friends and neighbors. We see them in the grocery store. We go to church with them. This issue has a face and a name for our local officials."

Officials from Maysville and Mason County, which have recently taken official action in support of legalization legislation, attended the meeting. The localities passed a resolution in support of Maysville resident Eric Crawford, a constituent of Rep. Sims and member of the medical cannabis panel.

Crawford was in a car accident as a young man that left him with debilitating pain and paralysis. He displayed the dozens of prescription pain relievers, including narcotics, he had been prescribed and have many adverse side effects. Crawford said he experiences the most relief with cannabis.

###

The medical cannabis task force includes members of Kentucky's medical community, including doctors, nurses and medical administrators, as well as representatives from law enforcement and state agencies with regulatory oversight, medical marijuana advocates, and military veterans.

 

December 20, 2017

Tis the Season

The Holidays should be a happy time of year, but sometimes Mother Nature throws us a curve ball.  This year she has decked our halls with balls of flu like illnesses that caused our schools to shut down two days early and lots and lots of people to get sick. It is likely to get worse for Lawrence County before it gets better. Kleenex boxes and flu medicines might just be the most welcome items for Santa to put in our stockings. If anyone has ever been really sick at Christmas it is a terrible feeling to sit down at the holiday table and prefer a bowl of chicken noodle soup over the festive fare.  Since Santa does not control this, there is no difference if you have been naughty or nice- the flu is gonna getcha regardless.

Ok, doom and gloom time is over. There’s got to be a way to fight back and protect your Holidays- Right?  Yes there is!  There are very simple, commonsense ways to stay healthy so you can enjoy the months of paying off your credit cards for your gift giving generosity.  Let’s take a look at them.

 

  WASH YOUR HANDS! You have heard this over and over again. The reason why is because it really works. Vigorous washing with plenty of soap and water works wonders against the flu and other flu-like viruses. So every time you venture out to a store or public place be sure to wash your hands before or directly after you get home.

  

  LIMIT YOUR PUBLIC EXPOSURE. You can’t get sick unless you come into contact with someone else who is sick.  Plan your outings wisely. Try to include as many of your “absolutely have to” stops in one trip.  Avoid unnecessary crowds. Maybe it would be best to wait and see that new film until most of the people watching it with you aren’t  illness spreading time bombs. Avoid kisses and hugs and in your face contact with anyone who you suspect might be sick. Yes, that means it is a good idea to retire the mistletoe this year.

 

PUT YOUR WASHING MACHINE ON OVERTIME. Viruses can hide in 

clothing, towels and any type of fabric. If you go out for the day try to change your clothes as quickly as you can when you get home.  Think of how bad you would feel your loved ones got sick because you let them hug and interact with clothes that could make them sick. Change your hand towels as often as you can and if someone in the household is already sick, give them a separate hand towel to use.

 

  KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS. There is a big difference from the flu and a cold. The flu makes you exhausted, feverous, headachy, and just plain more miserable than you can imagine. If you suspect that you might be coming down with the flu it is important to seek medical attention right away. Tamiflu is available prescription to combat the effects of the flu virus, but it must be taken at the onset of the illness in order to work. Once you are down and out with the flu it is just something you have to ride  out

The holidays do not have to be lost due to some creatures that you can’t even see. Be smart and be prepared. With a few simple precautions and a slight change of routine you can be healthy enough to watch your loved ones be disappointed with the gifts you bought them and wish your in laws knew how to smoke a turkey instead of the usual oven bake. The holidays are a rare time during the year to get some extra time off from work and to enjoy friends and family. Don’t waste your holiday delirious in bed watching everyone else having fun.   

If you need more advice in how to stay healthy over the holidays please contact the nursing staff at the Lawrence County Health Department at 606-638-4389.

Ron Enders, PhD.
Preparedness Coordintor, MRC Coordinator

 

Date: 12-06-2017

New national immunization laws set

In addition to immunizations already required for school children to attend public schools, state law will require Hepatitis A shots for all students and a meningitis booster for those 16 and older, beginning with the 2018-19 academic year.

While that sounds like plenty of time, that's not necessarily the case for the Hepatitis A vaccine, which comes in a two-part series. The shots must be given six months apart.

Lawrence County Health Dept. director Debbie Miller said today that she and her staff are encouraging parents to start the series of shots asap.

Lawrence Co. Health Dept. director Debbie Miller said today that parents should sign up for the new immunizations as soon as possible.Lawrence Co. Health Dept. director Debbie Miller said today that parents should sign up for the new immunizations as soon as possible."The new immunization requirements go into effect July 1, 2018. All children from 19 months through 12th grade who attend daycare, primary or secondary schools will be required to have completed the two-part Hepatitis A series prior to the start of the 2018-2019 school year," Miller said.

"The Hepatitis A vaccine is given in two doses with a minimum of six months between doses. Our nurses are encouraging clients to start the series now," Miller added.

Kentucky's new immunization guidelines were adopted before the recent Hepatitis A outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the Hepatitis A and meningitis vaccines for schoolchildren for some time, she said.

"Regarding the Hepatitis A outbreak in Kentucky, there have been no cases reported in Lawrence County or any of our surrounding counties,Miller told The Lazer.  "The majority of the cases are in the Louisville area. We are participating in weekly conference calls with Kentucky Department for Public Health as they monitor and respond to the outbreak."

Other states have already adopted (these immunization guidelines), Lile said. Kentucky officials updated the state's standards in June to become compliant with national recommendations.

To complete the Hepatitis A two-shot series by the time school starts, students should have their first shot by Feb. 1, Lile said.

School districts want all students to complete the Hepatitis A series before starting school, but will accept students who have had their first shot only -- on a conditional basis, said Wendi Kozel, DCPS district nurse. After the first shot's six-month waiting period ends, students will have a two-week window to get the second Hepatitis A shot before their immunization certificate becomes invalid.

Kentucky allows medical and religious exemptions for vaccines, Kozel said. Every student must provide one of three certificates -- a current vaccination record, medical exemption or religious exemption -- to start the school year.

"As a reminder, good hand washing with soap and water is one of the most important steps we can take to keep from getting sick and from spreading germs to others," Lawrence County's Miller said.

For more information on when to wash your hands and how to wash them properly, visit https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html.

By Renee Beasley Jones
The Messenger-Inquirer

Lazer Editor Mark Grayson contributed to this story

 

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