Wednesday October 18, 2017
News Topics

Thousands of volunteers will join together on Saturday, October 21 for the bi-annual Brightside & Passport Health Plan Community-Wide Cleanup to pick up litter and beautify sites across Louisville.

Volunteers across the city—Boy & Girl Scouts, neighborhood associations, business associations, elementary school classrooms, families and more—will be participating in this fall’s event.

“By working together with neighbors, classmates and co-workers, we can show pride in our neighborhoods by keeping them litter-free,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “I encourage citizens from all corners of our city to work together and keep our streets and greenspaces clean and green.”

To participate, volunteers choose their own cleanup site and register with Brightside to receive gloves, bags, and for the first 5,000 volunteers, t-shirts. Trash pick-up will be coordinated with Louisville Metro Solid Waste Management Services. The cleanup is sponsored by Passport Health Plan. Registration can be found online at www.brightsideinc.org.

“We are thrilled to be the title sponsor of the 2017 Brightside & Passport Health Plan Fall Community-Wide Cleanup,” said Mark B. Carter, CEO of Passport Health Plan. “We come together with Mayor Fischer, Brightside and all Louisville residents in the knowledge that a cleaner city helps all residents improve their health and overall quality of life.”

Cleanups are an integral part of Brightside’s mission, and without the help of over 25,000 volunteers throughout the year, Brightside could not meet its goal of a making Louisville a cleaner and greener community. Neighborhoods can hold their own cleanups at any point throughout the year, and Brightside encourages neighborhood associations, block watches, businesses and faith groups to play an active role in keeping their neighborhoods litter-free.

Registration for the October 21 community-wide cleanup is still open. Visit the Brightside website at www.brightsideinc.org to complete the registration form or call (502) 574-2613 to register your team.

A partnership between Kentuckiana Air Education (KAIRE) and Louisville Parks and Recreation has led to the creation of colorful advertisements stressing an anti-idling message that can be seen approximately a dozen parks throughout Louisville.

The message, “People Idle In Parks – Not Cars,” can be seen on pavement decals affixed to surfaces in high-traffic areas at some of Louisville busiest parks, including Joe Creason, Seneca, Thurman Hutchins and Sun Valley.

The advertisements have been placed in 16 parks with 14 more to follow in upcoming weeks.

“The advertisements are a reminder that parks are spaces where we promote the enjoyment of clean air and a healthy environment,” said Seve Ghose, Director of Parks and Recreation. “We’re encouraging our visitors to turn the engine off if they can, and possibly step outside of their car and go for a walk, and enjoy the surroundings.”

Unnecessary engine idling can create an air pollution “hot spot” in places like parking lots, school pick-up lines, and drive-thru windows. As Louisville’s overall air quality improves and vehicles become cleaner, idling is still a blind spot for many motorists.

“Modern cars don’t belch out black, smoky fumes anymore, but they still pollute the air,” said Air Pollution Control District Director Keith Talley Sr. “This is an easy way to reduce your personal pollution footprint.”

Photo: Louisville Free Public Library

The Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and the Louisville Free Public Library will offer the class, Heroin Hurts Louisville on Tuesday, Sept., 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the South Central Regional Library at 7300 Jefferson Blvd. and again on Tuesday, Oct., 24 at 6:00 p.m. at the St. Matthews Library at 3940 Grandview Ave. The 90-minute class is free. Registration is required. Phone 574 -1623 or contact the Library @LFPL on Twitter or @LouisvilleFreePublicLibrary on Facebook to register.

Heroin Hurts Louisville is taught by a certified drug and alcohol counselor.  It includes educational information, video testimonies from young people and facilitated discussion. Participants will receive a toolkit with information and available resources.  The class is intended to provide parents and other caring adults with valuable insights on why children and teens use drugs and how to start a dialogue about the dangers of substance abuse.  It is also intended to empower parents with steps to take if they suspect or know someone at risk of using drugs.

“This class is a tool for parents to open up a dialogue with their children around the issues associated with drug use,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness. “Many of our initiatives to battle the opioid epidemic in Louisville have, by necessity, been reacting to the needs of people caught up in drug use and protecting our community from infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C,” she said. “But it’s also important that we take proactive steps to prevent substance abuse in the first place.”

“We are happy to be teaming up with Public Health and Wellness to be bringing these classes to our community,” said James Blanton, Director of Louisville Free Public Library.

Early Influenza Cases Reported

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) has received reports of two laboratory-confirmed influenza cases, indicating the presence of flu activity in Kentucky. The cases were from Jefferson County.

Beginning in October, DPH officials will begin to report weekly influenza activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of statewide flu surveillance efforts.

Photo: CDC

Adequate supplies of flu vaccine are expected to be available for this year’s season. This season, only injectable influenza vaccine formulations will be distributed in the United States. Vaccination can be given any time during the flu season.

“Getting the flu can be debilitating and sometimes life-threatening, and vaccination is the best tool we have to prevent illness.  It’s also extremely important to take simple preventive steps to avoid it,” said Hiram C. Polk, Jr., M.D., commissioner of DPH.  “You should also follow the advice your parents gave you to prevent flu and other illnesses that tend to circulate at this time of year – wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home when you’re sick.”

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends flu vaccine for all individuals aged six months of age and older.  People who are strongly encouraged to receive the flu vaccine because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences include:

• Children aged six months through 59 months;
• Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
• Persons 50 years of age or older;

• Persons with extreme obesity (Body Mass Index of 40 or greater);
• Persons aged six months and older with chronic health problems;
• Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
• Household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children aged ≤59 months
(i.e., aged   aged ≥50 years;

• Household contacts and caregivers or people who live with a person at high-risk for
complications from the flu; and

• Health care workers, including physicians, nurses, and other workers in inpatient and
outpatient-care settings, medical emergency-response workers (e.g., paramedics and
emergency medical technicians), employees of nursing home and long-term care
facilities who have contact with patients or residents, and students in these professions
who will have contact with patients.

Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches.  Flu can be very contagious.  For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, Kentuckians should contact their primary care medical provider or local health department.  Influenza information is also available online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.

The Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee will learn more about Jefferson County’s “C.A.M.P” (Continuous Alcohol Monitoring Program) at its regular meeting on Wednesday, September 20th

“These kinds of programs are now a part of law enforcement and public safety in the 21st Century and I believe it is important that the Committee get a full understanding of how it operates and what the specific goals are to keep the community safe,” says Councilman David James (D-6).

Judge Stephanie Pearce Burke, Jefferson District Court, Jefferson County Drug/Specialty Courts, will be on hand to answer questions about the program as well as Matthew Mitchell, Director of Evidence Based Practices, SCRAM Systems, and Jen Rankin, Program Development Manager, SCRAM Systems.

Similar criteria-based programs across the country have resulted in the significant reduction of drunk driving and alcohol-related crashes. Research shows that the use of a continuous alcohol monitoring bracelet for a period of 90 days significantly reduces the probability of recidivism among high risk DUI offenders. Recidivism rates for repeat DUI offenders who wear the bracelet for at least 90 days are 50% less than those who do not utilize the technology.

“With the implementation of C.A.M.P., the Jefferson County courts are now utilizing technology in efforts to reduce recidivism in DUI offenders, with the goal of increasing public safety,” says Judge Burke.

Most repeat DUI offenders do not have the internal motivation to stay sober. C.A.M.P. will aid defendants by reinforcing sobriety. The certainty of detection is a powerful deterrent and motivator to stay sober when one does not have the internal motivation or tools to do so on their own. As a direct result, public safety is greatly improved and the offender is more likely to be successful in their recovery efforts.

The Public Safety Committee will meet at 3:30pm in the Council Chambers, Historic City Hall, 601 West Jefferson Street.

All Metro Council Committee meetings are carried live on Metro TV, Spectrum Cable Channel 184 and on UVERSE Channel 99.

You can watch the meetings online by going to the Metro Council home page at http://louisvilleky.gov/government/metro-council/metro-council-clerk  and click the “Watch Meetings Online” button.

Attorney General Andy Beshear and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey are calling on health insurance companies to assist in finding workable solutions to the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Beshear and Morrisey, who will officially make the announcement at 1:30 p.m. today in West Virginia, are joining with 36 other state attorneys general to press health insurance companies to adopt a financial incentive structure for the use of non-opioid pain management techniques when viable for chronic, non-cancer pain.

The AGs are reaching out to insurance companies to promote non-opioid pain management alternatives that may not be currently covered at the same level as prescription opioids.

“Nearly 80 percent of heroin users first become addicted through prescription pills,” Beshear said. “If we can reduce opioid prescriptions and use other forms of pain management treatment, we will slow or even reverse the rate of addiction.”

Beshear said the issue is not a Republican or Democratic issue, and thanks AG Morrisey for continuing his nonstop efforts to work with the Kentucky Office of Attorney General to find workable solutions to the opioid epidemic.

Kentucky, like West Virginia, is facing the challenge of “our lifetime” with its drug epidemic, Beshear said, who joined Morrisey and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine last year for an addiction summit in West Virginia.

“We have to ensure that financial incentives, or a lack thereof, for the provision of certain items and services do not contribute unintentionally to this deadly problem,” Morrisey said.

Insurance companies can play an important role in reducing opioid prescriptions and making it easier for patients to access other forms of pain management treatment, the AGs said.

“Simply asking providers to consider providing alternative treatments is impractical in the absence of a supporting incentive structure,” the AGs said. “All else being equal, providers will often favor those treatment options that are most likely to be compensated either by the government, an insurance provider or a patient paying out-of-pocket.”

The AGs want to create a dialogue with the entire insurance industry concerning its incentive structure along with state insurance commissioners in an effort to identify best practices.

Beshear is co-chair on the National Association of Attorneys General Substance Abuse Committee.

Beshear’s participation in this initiative is the latest effort in his ongoing work to address the opioid crisis in Kentucky.

In August, he launched the Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program, the state’s first initiative to allow Kentuckians to safely dispose of opioid medications at home. The program has the potential to dispose of more than 2.2 million unused opioids.

In June, Beshear announced that his office intends to file multiple lawsuits against drug manufacturers, distributors and retailers where there is evidence that they contributed to the opioid epidemic by illegally marketing and selling opioids to Kentuckians.

To support this litigation, Beshear issued a request for proposal (RFP) for legal services to assist the Commonwealth in multiple lawsuits and to ensure that Kentucky tax dollars are not used for the costs of the litigations.

The AG’s office previously settled a $24 million lawsuit with Purdue Pharma regarding OxyContin. Beshear’s office has provided $8 million from that settlement directly to 15 substance treatment centers across Kentucky.

From a different drug company settlement, the office dedicated $2 million to expand and enhance Rocket Docket programs that expedite drug cases, generate significant cost savings and allow select defendants rapid access to substance abuse treatment.

Beshear is currently working with local law enforcement and community leaders to host substance abuse awareness forums across the state. The office has also been instrumental in numerous drug related arrests, including working with federal authorities on arresting a fentanyl dealer whose drugs had killed several Kentuckians.

Bordering state AGs participating in this effort include Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia and West Virginia.

As part of the 52 Weeks of Public Health campaign, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), is celebrating Newborn Screening Awareness Month by promoting awareness about the importance of early screening for Kentucky babies.

“Early intervention with the new mother and baby is critical to provide care and support for the best outcome,” said CHFS Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson. “The Cabinet is working hard across disciplines to develop these systems.”

The Newborn Screening Program is a population-based service, provided by DPH that provides testing for developmental, genetic and metabolic disorders in newborn babies, allowing steps to be taken before symptoms develop.

“The importance of these metabolic screenings for newborns in Kentucky cannot be overstated,” said Connie Gayle White, M.D., senior deputy commissioner at DPH. “For many children, early screening can literally mean the difference between a full, healthy life and one spent battling a debilitating condition. It can even mean the difference between life and death in some cases.”

Newborn screening detects conditions not visible at birth and ensures life-saving treatment can begin as soon as possible. Most of these illnesses are very rare, but can be treated if caught early. The types of newborn screening tests done vary from state to state, but all 50 states have reported screening for at least 26 disorders on an expanded and standardized uniform panel.

In Kentucky, newborn screening is required by law. A blood specimen is obtained by heel stick from the newborn at the birthing facility between 24-48 hours after birth. The specimen is sent to the Kentucky Division of Laboratory Services for processing and abnormal findings are reported to the Newborn Screening Program.

Kentucky’s Newborn Screening Program uses a metabolic panel screening for 53 disorders which includes: congenital, hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis, abnormalities in hemoglobin i.e. sickle cell, and disorders in the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acid, organic acids, fatty acids, and lysosomes. When a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment is initiated through the administration of drugs, hormones or dietary adjustments.

Even if a baby is not born in a hospital, it is critical that they be tested within the first 24-48 hours after birth.  Over 50,000 newborn screenings are conducted annually in the state of Kentucky. In 2016, 141 newborns tested were positively diagnosed as a result of the initial newborn screening. In addition to blood tests, screening for hearing loss and critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) are highly recommended for all Kentucky babies.

To learn more about the benefits of the Kentucky Newborn Screening Program, please visit the Kentucky Department for Public Health or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website.

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