Mallory Powell

UK, ARC, and CDC Announce Initiatives to Address Health Disparities in Eastern Kentucky

Published: Aug 5, 2014

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 5, 2014) – University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto today joined U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers and Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at a Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Health Impact Series to discuss health challenges in the region and announce two new UK initiatives to address them.

 

"Our Commonwealth is only strong if every community is strong," said Capilouto. "And every community will only be strong when every community is healthy."

 

One initiative announced was the UK Appalachian Cancer Patient Navigation Project.  Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the CDC, the $1.5 million, five-year project will address cancer and other chronic diseases by promoting screening and prevention in the region. The project the will address the burden of cancer and other chronic diseases by improving the standardization of patient navigation (PN), and by coordinating cancer navigation programs in the Appalachian region. The program was initially proposed by UK's Prevention Research Center, and will be implemented as part of a new multi-year partnership with CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

 

During the five-year period, UK and its partners will establish an infrastructure for patient navigation training, deploy training services in five Appalachian states, and coordinate patient navigation services with CDC-funded breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening sites in the region. Patient navigators will serve as advocates for individuals and help connect them with the right services. Training services will be based on well-regarded models, but tailored to the context of rural, economically distressed Appalachian communities.

 

“Patient navigators can help Kentuckians get screened for cancer – finding it early can save your life,” said Frieden. “By training more patient navigators where they are most needed, this CDC grant can help people in Appalachian areas live longer, healthier, cancer-free lives.”

 

“Better screening means early intervention and saved lives, and we can’t overstate the importance of that,” said Rogers.

 

Community Leadership Institute of Kentucky

In addition, the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science, funded by the National Institutes of Health, in partnership with the University of Kentucky’s Center of Excellence in Rural Health, and the Kentucky Office of Rural Health, announced the launch of the Community Leadership Institute of Kentucky (CLIK), a three-week intensive leadership development program designed to enhance research and capacity-building competencies in community leaders who play a key role in using data and decision making related to health and health care.

 

"Alleviating the personal burdens Kentucky families face requires a shared, community-based lift," said Capilouto. "This type of program exemplifies UK’s commitment to sustainable, community-based approaches to address the most serious challenges of the Commonwealth – challenges that deprive individuals, families and communities of a well-being and quality of life."

 

Each CLIK participant’s organization will receive a $1,500 grant for their participation in this competitive program and completion of their proposed project over a 12-month period.

 

Applications are currently being accepted through Aug. 29 for the first class of eight to 10 individuals. Trainings will be held in October and November. For details visit the Center for Clinical and Transitional Science website at www.ccts.uky.edu/ccts/index.php or contact Beth Bowling at beth.bowling@uky.edu or 606-439-3357, ext. 83545.

 

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to the University of Kentucky,” Rogers said. “UK has helped transform the availability of healthcare in the mountains – improving access to specialists, spending thousands of dollars on cancer research and screening projects, and training students who want to come home to practice medicine.”

 

The announcements came during a symposium held at Hazard Community and Technical College, the second “Health Impact Series” event with the CDC as part of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative.

 

SOAR, launched by Congressman Rogers and Gov. Steve Beshear in the fall of 2013, seeks to expand job creation; enhance regional opportunity, innovation and identity; and improve the quality of life for Appalachian Kentucky.

 

According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, this region has a greater prevalence for heart disease (84 percent higher), diabetes (47 percent higher) and obesity (26 percent higher) than the nation’s average. The state’s lung cancer mortality rates are the nation’s highest, at 67 percent above average.

 

“I am thrilled to have such an impressive group of experts in health care here this week to focus on our health issues,” Rogers said. “We’re laying out our problems on the table.”

 

“We cannot shape the future of this region without focusing on ways to improve the quality of life we have,” Rogers continued. “If you’ve ever battled cancer or watched someone close to you go down that difficult road, quality of life is basically non-existent.”

 

Tuesday’s symposium, sponsored by Appalachian Regional Healthcare, also featured presentations by Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, commissioner of the Kentucky Cabinet for Public Health; CDC Deputy Director Dr. Judith Monroe, who received her undergraduate degree from Eastern Kentucky University; and a panel discussion of health care experts moderated by Dr. Nikki Stone, associate professor of the UK College of Dentistry/Medicine and chair of the SOAR Health Work Group.

 

Through a series of 15 listening sessions this summer, the SOAR Health Work Group “collected lots of innovative strategies for improving health in our region, including many projects that involve re-discovering the healthy benefits of growing our own gardens and cooking together with our families,” Stone said.

 

Common themes in the health discussions included wellness, healthy foods, the smoke-free initiative, a focus on children and coordinated school health, oral health, diabetes/obesity, seniors, the need for mental health assessments and services beginning in early childhood, and the drug epidemic.

 

Kentucky had the third highest mortality rate of prescription drug overdoses in 2010 (23.6 per 100,000), with the number of all drug overdose deaths more than quadrupling since 1999 (4.9 per 100,000), according to a 2013 report by Trust For America’s Health. Nationally the rate has doubled.

 

Frieden and Congressman Rogers have worked together through Operation UNITE’s National Rx Drug Abuse Summit to combat this public health epidemic, and have teamed up once again for the SOAR Health Impact Series.

 

“Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in Kentucky,” noted Commissioner Mayfield. “Part of the kyhealthnow mission is to reduce the prevalence of abuse and overdose deaths. This is extremely important for Kentucky, particularly Perry County, which is one of the top six counties in Kentucky for overdose deaths.”

 

“We aren’t the type of people who stand by expecting someone else to save us – the people of southern and eastern Kentucky like to pull up our bootstraps and hit the trenches,” Rogers said, cautioning that there is no quick fix.

 

“This is a marathon – in fact, this is the race of our lives,” Rogers continued. “We may not even get to see the fruits of our efforts. But, if we endure, our children and grandchildren will live healthier and better than we are living now.”

 

Health Impact Awards

 

Emphasizing “it takes multiple programs and great leadership to pioneer the path for a healthier region,” Congressman Rogers presented four  “Health Impact Awards” to celebrate the “great work” in awareness and prevention efforts. Recipients of the award were:

 

Appalachian Regional Healthcare, which created an impressive outreach program to reverse childhood obesity rates. Since 2011, ARH has hosted more than 50 Fitness Fairs for thousands of children. More than a one-day event, however, ARH has a plan to follow the progress of each child annually and provide extra resources when needed.

 

UK Gill Heart Institute-Appalachian Heart Center, whose commitment to service has helped ARH establish one of the premier cardiology programs in the area, and led to Hazard ARH’s first open-heart surgery in 2005.

 

Hazard Police Department, which launched an impressive and creative set of fundraisers after one of their own, officer Paul Campbell, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. In helping their colleague, the police department inspired an entire region with innovative ideas of how they can help others battle cancer, while also raising awareness about early detection.

 

• Kentucky Homeplace, for its “I Do” Campaign, a nurse-led outreach coordinated by community health workers, to educate diabetics about their disease. This is important because 31 of the 38 Kentucky Homeplace counties are located in the “National Diabetes Belt,” where 11 percent or more of adults have been told by a healthcare professional they have diabetes, yet the belt has the lowest number of certified diabetic educators to help individuals live healthy lives.

 

Knott County Drug Abuse Council. This Operation UNITE community coalition provides drug prevention curriculum to schools and community events, but sponsors drug-free activities for youth. They launched a Drug Court Mentoring Program to mentor children of Drug Court participants, and helps to address health-related issues that addicts face.

 

For more information about SOAR visit their website at http://www.soar-ky.org/

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Mallory Powell, mallory.powell@uky.edu

 

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