WKU Dept. of Public Health/Imagewest

Western Kentucky University is hosting its first Refugee Health Summit on Thursday, April 18. Assistant Professor in WKU’s Department of Public Health Michelle Reece is coordinator of the summit. Reece came to the WKU Public Radio studio and spoke with reporter Rhonda Miller about this new project. 

Reece: My colleague and I, Dr. William Mkanta, we have some connection with the International Center of Kentucky here in Bowling Green. And over the course of the years we discovered that there are some issues that providers are facing as they’re interacting with our new residents, who are former refugees. And so we, through the Research and Creativities Program here at WKU, applied for a grant to look at “Provider Needs Assessment in Refugee Health Services.”  This summit is partly a response to the findings from our study, the ethical thing that we need to do and go back to the community and provide the results and how we’re going to address some of the issues that came up in refugee health services.

public domain

Kentucky ranks 9th nationwide in the rate of foster kids living in group homes or institutions. And while the percentage of foster kids in group homes increased between 2007 and 2017, the rate of these kids in family settings grew more slowly. That’s according to a new report out Tuesday from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

In 2017, 81 percent of foster children under age 18 lived with families, whether that was with actual relatives or non-relatives. That’s the seventh-lowest rate in the nation.

Wendell Foster

An Owensboro nonprofit that serves people with developmental disabilities is suspending its autism program. The CEO says the autism program will undergo a major restructuring to better serve its clients, who are students in elementary, middle and high school. 

Wendell Foster is a nonprofit that’s been serving people with disabilities for 72 years. The autism program began as a satellite location for the Kelly Autism Program at Western Kentucky University, but eventually the Owensboro program became independent.

The current autism program in Owensboro has been offered as an afterschool program a few hours a week, which has an average of 15-20 students, and a summer camp three days a week, which usually has about 30 students.

Lisa Autry

Doctors aren’t the only ones on call at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown.  So is man’s best friend.

A part Labrador Retriever named Baron; Pepper the Yorkie; Lola, a Rhodesian Ridgeback; and Lady, a German Short-Haired Pointer, reported for duty at the hospital on a recent Friday afternoon, and fanned out to patient rooms to offer some canine comfort. 

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says he deliberately exposed his children to chickenpox so they would catch the highly contagious disease and become immune.

During a Tuesday interview on Bowling Green radio station WKCT, Bevin said his children were "miserable for a few days" after contracting chickenpox but said "they all turned out fine."

Bevin and his wife, Glenna, have nine children, four adopted.

The Republican governor said parents worried about chickenpox should have their children vaccinated. But he said government shouldn't mandate the vaccination.

The Milk Bank

A growing number of milk depots are cropping up in Kentucky as a way to provide more newborns with breastmilk.

The state is now home to eight locations where human breastmilk can be donated, screened, and distributed to fill the void for infants in need.

Rachel Garrison, a lactation consultant with the milk depot at The Medical Center at Bowling Green, said human breast milk can be lifesaving for infants who are premature or ill.

Communities across Kentucky will join a national event on March 20 aimed at discouraging the use of  e-cigarettes and tobacco.

National 'Kick Butts Day' is a day of activism organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

More than 1,000 events will be held across the U.S., with the main focus on getting young people to kick the e-cigarette habit, especially Juul, which looks like a computer flash drive and comes in appealing flavors like mango, fruit and mint.

In Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University will host a campus-wide 'Cigarette Butt Clean Up Day.' Commons

A new public health awareness campaign is underway in Kentucky aimed at educating physicians and the public about the dangers of overprescribing antibiotics. 

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Kentucky has the highest rate of antibiotic use in the U.S. Bethany Wattles is with the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and is part of the new campaign called Kentucky Antibiotic Awareness (KAA).

Hardin Memorial Health

While Kentucky hospitals use electronic health records, that data typically stays in-house, but a new partnership is allowing hospitals to share the information with each other. 

The Kentucky Hospital Association and the Kentucky Office of Rural Health have partnered with the company Collective Medical to develop a statewide care coordination network. 

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Godfrey at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown says the system gives providers real-time information to identify at-risk and complex patients.

Kevin Willis

Bowling Green resident Carl Coffey has lived with a speech disorder that affects an estimated 3 million Americans: stuttering.

But he said people are often surprised to learn he’s been impacted by the disorder.

“And to some people who might be listening, they might say, “Oh, I don’t hear you stutter.’ I’m what most people would classify as a ‘covert stutterer’, or have been for most of my life.”

Coffey is head of the Bowling Green chapter of the National Stuttering Associaton. The group meets on the third Thursday of every month in room 118 of the Academic Complex at WKU from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner

It was a Friday afternoon, and a young man — the doctor called him “J” — needed help. J was addicted to heroin. The doctor, Mike Kalfas, had treated him several times before with buprenorphine, a drug that blocks opioid cravings and is part of a class of drugs most successful in keeping patients in recovery.

J had recently gotten out of jail on a drug-related charge, Kalfas said. There, he’d had to stop using buprenorphine because it wasn’t available.

“I wrote him the prescription, and it’s 5:30 p.m. on a Friday when he left my office,” Kalfas told Kentucky lawmakers earlier this month. “About 6:30 p.m. the paper comes over the fax machine, denying his medication.”

Aaron Payne

Sue Meeks has worked with children for years as a registered nurse.

Meeks manages the family navigator program at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens, Ohio.

Several years ago, she started noticing three and four-year-olds coming into the program with certain distinctive behaviors.

“Children that appear to be neurologically very overstimulated,” she said. “They often aren’t social in your typical way. They don’t respond to trying to calm them or trying to divert their attention to something else, laughing with them, or getting a response from reading.”


Wikimedia Commons

A bill that would ban tobacco products and vaping in Kentucky public schools passed through a state House Committee Thursday.

Republican Rep. Kim Moser from Taylor Mill is sponsor of the measure. She said the ban would send a message to students. 

“I think that it’s very important that we set certain expectations for our students and stop normalizing tobacco use,” Moser said during the hearing.

ONA News Agency/Wikimedia Commons

A group of Kentuckians is again suing the federal government over the re-approval of Gov. Matt Bevin’s changes to the Medicaid program.

Twelve Kentuckians, represented by the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center and National Health Law Program, filed the suit in the same court that struck down the changes last summer.

A federal judge in June struck down Bevin’s plan to put in place “community engagement” requirements for Medicaid coverage that were set to go into effect in some parts of the state last year.

Mary Meehan

A number of towns and counties in our region have adopted needle exchange programs in recent years as a way to combat rising levels of H.I.V and hepatitis C.

Barren County, Kentucky, began its needle exchange program in March, and has so far received more than 1,300 dirty needles from intravenous drug users.

Stephanie Dickerson has seen the Barren County needle exchange progress from being an idea met with skepticism to a reality. She works in health education at the Barren River District Health Department, and is based in Barren County. She helped the department’s director and epidemiologist lobby Barren County and Glasgow city governments to approve a needle exchange.