World Voice Day

On World Voice Day, take time to celebrate your voice

JoAnna E. Sloggy, MA, CCC-SLP

Written by JoAnna Sloggy, a speech-language pathologist and singing-voice specialist at the UK Voice & Swallow Clinic.

In the U.S., 7.5 million people have trouble using their voices. We often forget the important role voice plays in our daily lives. On Sunday, April 16, World Voice Day is a time to stop and consider the importance of the human voice in every part of our daily lives. World Voice Day aims to celebrate the human voice and raise awareness for voice disorders, vocal health, vocal training and voice research.

What causes voice disorders?

Voice is created by vibration of the vocal folds, and a voice disorder occurs when the vocal folds are unable to vibrate well enough to create a clear vocal sound. A voice disorder may be caused by voice overuse or misuse, neck and throat injuries or growths, and diseases such as cancer or Parkinson’s disease. Voice adds intent, mood and meaning to the words we speak – imagine the interpersonal loss of not being able to express yourself vocally through speech or song.

Most people have experienced temporary vocal problems such as hoarseness or loss of voice due to allergies, colds or cheering too enthusiastically for your favorite team. Usually, voice returns to normal within several days. However, if a voice change lasts for longer than two weeks, the problem should be checked by your doctor.

Be sure to practice vocal hygiene

To keep your voice healthy, follow these vocal hygiene recommendations.

  1. Listen to how your voice sounds. Hoarseness or other voice changes lasting longer than two weeks should be evaluated by a voice care team, such as an otolaryngologist and a speech-language pathologist who specializes in voice disorders.
  2. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to keep your vocal folds and voice box well lubricated.
  3. Quit smoking. Tobacco, nicotine, chemicals, inhaled heat and other substances can cause inflammation and swelling of the voice box and cause cancer in the mouth, nose, throat and lungs.
  4. Avoid screaming, cheering loudly or talking over loud noise. These behaviors cause damage to the vocal fold tissue and strain to the voice muscles.
  5. Limit alcohol and caffeine. These substances have a drying effect on the vocal folds.
  6. Avoid repeated throat clearing and/or coughing. These behaviors can cause vocal damage. Try sipping water and swallowing hard when you have the urge to cough or throat clear.
  7. Manage acid reflux. Stomach acid can damage the tissue of your throat and cause hoarseness and other vocal problems.
  8. Give your voice a rest when recovering from hoarseness. When your vocal folds are swollen and inflamed, there is increased risk of vocal damage. Until your voice returns to normal, avoid straining or forcing your voice.
  9. Give your voice a break. Vocal “naps” are good when your voice is tired from overuse or from talking too loudly.

You are never too young or too old to stop and check your vocal health. Making changes to improve or maintain your good voice habits will benefit your health for years to come. This World Voice Day, take time today to celebrate your voice!

This column is scheduled to run in the Lexington Herald-Leader this weekend.


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What you need to know about mumps

What you need to know about mumps

Last week, UK’s University Health Service saw a couple of isolated cases of mumps, a contagious virus whose tell-tale symptom is swelling near the neck and jaw.

Although the overwhelming majority of people who get mumps recover completely, it’s important to know the signs of the virus and what to do if you think you have it.

What is mumps?

Mumps is an illness caused by the mumps virus. It’s easily spread by airborne droplets from the upper respiratory tract.

Mumps typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, fatigue and loss of appetite, followed by swollen salivary glands, or swelling near the neck and jaw. Since the introduction of the mumps vaccine, cases of mumps in the U.S. are uncommon.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Many children have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. The following are the most common symptoms of mumps that may be seen in both adults and children:

  • Discomfort in the salivary glands (in front of the ears), which may become swollen and tender.
  • Difficulty chewing.
  • Pain and tenderness of the testicles.
  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Tiredness.
  • Loss of appetite.

The symptoms of mumps may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

What should you do if you think you have mumps?

  • UK students: Students who have swollen parotid salivary glands should make an appointment with UHS to be evaluated or see their family physician. Students can go online and make a clinician appointment via the Student Health Link on the LinkBlue/My UK portal or by calling 859-323-APPT (2778) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • UK faculty and staff: If you have symptoms, see your local clinician, or if you can’t get an appointment with your regular clinician and have UK HMO, PPO, or EM, you can call for an appointment at the UK Health Plans Urgent Care Clinic at 859-323-SICK (7425).
  • Non-UK employees: If you’re not a UK employee, but are experiencing symptoms, contact your primary care physician and make an appointment.

If you have any of the symptoms of mumps, avoid prolonged close contact with other people for five days after your salivary glands began to swell. You should not go to work or classes during this period.

In addition to staying away from others, you can help prevent the virus from spreading by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, washing hands frequently, and wearing a mask if you have to be around others.

What complications are associated with mumps?

Complications of mumps occur more frequently among adults than children, and may include:

  • Meningitis or encephalitis. Inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord or inflammation of the brain.
  • Orchitis. Inflammation of one or both testicles.
  • Mastitis. Inflammation of breast tissue.
  • Oophoritis. Inflammation of one or both ovaries.
  • Pancreatitis. Inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Deafness

How is mumps diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and medical exam, your healthcare provider may also take a swab of the side of your mouth to confirm the diagnosis.

What is the treatment for mumps?

Treatment is usually limited to medications for pain and plenty of fluids. Sometimes bedrest is necessary the first few days. According to the CDC, adults should stay home from work for five days after glands begin to swell. Children should stay out of school until symptoms have subsided. Both adults and children with mumps symptoms should minimize contact with other people who live in their homes. Good basic hygiene practices, such as thorough hand-washing, covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, and regularly cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, are also important in disease control.

How can mumps be prevented?

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) is a childhood combination vaccination against mumps, measles and rubella. The MMR provides immunity for most people. People who have had the mumps are immune for life.

If you have not previously been vaccinated or if you are unsure if you have received two doses of the MMR vaccine, we are recommending that you get vaccinated.

Usually, the first dose of the MMR vaccine is given when a child is 12 to 15 months old, and a second dose is given at 4 to 6 years of age. However, if 28 days have passed since the first dose was given, a second dose may be given before the age of 4.


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A research study from UK and University of Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis shows the benefits of massage therapy for lower back pain.

Got lower back pain? Massage therapy may help, says UK researcher

William G. Elder Jr., PhD

Clinical massage therapy can alleviate lower back pain according to new research published in part by William Elder, PhD, a researcher at UK Family & Community Medicine.

The results from the Kentucky Pain Research and Outcomes Study appeared in the March edition of the journal Pain Medicine. The researchers tested the effectiveness of massage therapy intervention to reduce pain and disability and improve quality of life in patients with chronic lower back pain.

Elder said the results fill in a gap of medical literature showing the real-world effects of massage therapy as an alternative to pharmacologic therapies for lower back pain.

“Our study generated convincing evidence that massage may be used as a beneficial therapy for sufferers of lower back pain,” Elder said. “With a high prevalence of lower back pain across the nation, our study responds to the need for effective complementary therapies that can be disseminated through a primary care setting.”

In the study, Kentucky primary care physicians referred patients with chronic lower back pain to a licensed community massage therapist, and study participants were evaluated after 12 weeks and after 10 massage-therapy sessions, as well as at a 24-month follow-up appointment. At 12 weeks through the intervention, 75 percent of participants experienced improvement in physical and cognitive measures. The study also showed participants experienced meaningful improvement at the 24-week mark.

In addition, the study showed that adults 49 and older benefited from massage therapy more than younger adults.

Elder collaborated with co-author Niki Munk, a licensed massage therapist and health sciences researcher at the University of Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis. The study was recently featured on Time.com.


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spring cleaning

Before you start spring cleaning, check out our safety tips

Wayne Sanderson

Wayne Sanderson

Written by Wayne Sanderson, a professor of epidemiology in the UK College of Public Health.

The arrival of spring inspires fresh starts and clean slates. Longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures energize homeowners to empty out their garages, fertilize their lawns or start home improvement projects.

However, using chemicals, sprays and equipment to complete household projects always poses some level of risk. To stay safe during spring cleaning, follow these simple safety measures:

Cleaning with chemicals

The state poison control office receives 10 percent of its annual calls during the spring season. While working with cleaning products containing ammonium and chlorine, keep buckets and bottles out of a child’s reach. If you suspect a child has ingested a cleaning product, call poison control immediately at 800-222-1222.

Cleaning solutions with an ammonium or chlorine base can also burn the skin and cause respiratory distress. Always wear impervious gloves while working directly with these products. Because these products release chemicals as mists and vapors, it’s important to ventilate the area by opening a window or wearing a protective mask.

Serious chemical burns also occur when a cleaning solution is absorbed into clothing and remains in contact with the skin. If a cleaning solution is absorbed into clothing, change clothes right away. If the burning and reddening of the skin persists, go to the emergency room.

Pressure washers

Pressure washers get rid of the grit and grime that builds up in garages, siding and decks. However, gasoline-powered pressure washers emit carbon monoxide, and over-exposure to exhaust fumes can cause sudden death. Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless gas that can cause confusion, fatigue and weakness in minutes. The safest practice is to never bring pressure washers indoors.

Yard work

While mowing the grass, remember to protect your ears. Recent research has shown younger yard workers who lacked ear protection while mowing were more likely to suffer from hearing loss. Weed eating poses risks to both the ears and the eyes, as debris can ricochet into a worker’s face. Invest in a protective headset and protective eyewear, which are available at local hardware stores.

Asbestos

For larger-scale renovations, owners of older homes must consider the health risks associated with asbestos. Asbestos is a group of minerals found in the insulation and floor tiles of homes built prior to the 1960s. Scientific evidence suggests an association between asbestos and certain types of cancer, such as lung cancer.

When removing any insulation material that might contain asbestos, workers should wear a respirator approved by the National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health. If there is a legitimate concern for asbestos contamination, the safest decision is to let the professionals handle the work.

With the right equipment and knowledge of household safety risks, you can have a productive spring season.


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Art therapy

Art therapy helps patients improve emotional health and well-being

Art therapy, a division of UK HealthCare’s Creative Arts Therapies program, allows patients to use artistic activities to help ease the depression and anxiety associated with illness and being in the hospital.

Fran Belvin

Fran Belvin

“Art and mental health therapy are intertwined,” said Fran Belvin, MA, ATR-BC, LPAT, a licensed art therapist serving patients at UK Markey Cancer Center and Eastern State Hospital. “Some people who have been in the hospital for a while feel depressed and isolated. Art therapy is about making a connection and getting them engaged in something that instills hope.”

A patient doesn’t have to be a consummate painter or sketch artist to benefit from art therapy services.

“It can be something as simple as using art materials to draw with lines, colors and shapes how the patient is feeling that day – an abstract drawing to depict emotions and what’s on their mind,” Belvin said. “Then we talk about what the different shapes and colors mean to them.”

Affirmations representing a patient’s current emotional needs are also helpful.

“If you’re anxious, you might use an affirmation that says, ‘I am calm and serene,’” Belvin explained. “By using that affirmation as a basis for a drawing or a collage, the patient is embodying that positive statement, which brings hope. By choosing concrete images [for a collage], people are giving themselves touchstones; they’re actually experiencing the feeling of calm while making their artwork.”

Art therapy

With cancer patients at Markey, Belvin has started a project that she hopes to put on public display in the future. When patients undergo radiation for cancer of the head or neck, they’re required to wear a white mesh mask from their head to their upper chest. The mask ensures that the patient remains still and the radiation is delivered to the appropriate area.

“It’s a confining and uncomfortable treatment, and most people aren’t happy about the radiation mask,” Belvin said. “By taking the mask and turning it into an art project, people can reclaim the whole process of their treatment and feel less victimized by the mask.”

It can be easy to misconstrue art therapy as simply handing out coloring books to provide some distraction and help pass the time. However, it is much more than that, Belvin said.

“Art therapy is not simply an activity to keep you busy or distracted, although it can be beneficial to have something else to think about other than treatment and illness,” she explained. “It’s a way for people to explore and find meaning in their illness. I think that’s the way people get over anything traumatic: to look for something that changed them in a way that they welcome. Art therapy helps people find a way to explore and express those things.”


Next steps:

  • Learn more about UK Integrative Medicine & Health, a program that focuses on the treating the whole patient using all appropriate therapies, healthcare expertise and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.
  • UK Arts in HealthCare enhances the healing atmosphere of UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital through artwork and installations by local and international artists. Learn more.
As parents, taking care of ourselves is necessary in order to have the energy, health and disposition to be the best parents we can be.

Parents, taking care of yourself can help your kids, too

Christina R. Studts, PhD

Written by Dr. Christina Studts, assistant professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society in the UK College of Public Health.

For many parents, it’s difficult to find time for regular exercise. This can be especially true for parents with young children, all of whom have behavior problems from time to time. At the beginning or end of a long day, exercising often feels like the last thing we want to do.

But as parents, taking care of ourselves is necessary in order to have the energy, health and disposition to be the best parents we can be.

Keeping up with your kids

Research shows that parents with depression and/or poor physical health have a harder time practicing effective parenting strategies. When we don’t feel good, parenting is that much harder. On the other hand, exercise can have positive effects on both psychological and physical health.

We know from research that exercise can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety; it’s correlated with increased happiness, better moods, improved cognitive performance and, of course, physical fitness. Exercise also releases “feel-good” hormones and increases body temperature, which can help calm us.

Staying physically active can also help us maintain enough energy to keep up with our kids (especially those little ones!) and live long lives so that we’re there for our children as they grow up. Although it might be difficult to find ways to add physical activity to your life, doing so can improve your own well-being, your parenting and your relationship with your children.

You don’t need a gym membership

One strategy to add more physical activity to your life is to do fun, active things as a family. Instead of watching a movie, you could play pretend and chase each other around your house. You can go on a walk together, explore a new park (but don’t sit on the bench while the kids play), take the stairs and count them together, or park far away from the store and note all the colors of cars as you walk to the door. You could learn to jump rope, Pogo stick or hula hoop together.

There are also many online, at-home exercise programs that are designed specifically for parents that playfully incorporate children into exercise. A quick Google search will lead you to a variety of options, including free and low-cost video programs.

If you have low energy and/or are not enjoying time with your child, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider.

Join our research initiative

At UK, we are currently conducting a research study to learn more about the relationship between physical activity and parenting, and we’re looking for parents to participate. If you are the parent of a 3-5 year old child, sometimes struggle with your child’s behavior and do not exercise regularly, you may be eligible for this study. To learn more about this opportunity, visit UKClinicalResearch.com or call Meagan Pilar at 859-257-8911.


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spring exercise

It’s spring! Get out and get moving

With more daylight and warmer temperatures beckoning, many people are ready to say goodbye to the winter doldrums and get active. If you’ve been holed up since Thanksgiving, however, lacing up your running shoes and heading out for a two-mile run may not be the best way to ease into a new exercise routine.

Spring is a great time to get moving, and our five-step guide can help you create a successful  and enjoyable  fitness plan.

Step 1: Talk with your doctor

Before you start working up a sweat, schedule a visit to your doctor to gauge on your overall health. Discuss any aches, pains or limitations that might impact your plans to get active. Talk about how to build a cardiovascular foundation that will lend itself to further activity.

Step 2: Make a plan

Exercise should be planned for a time in the day when you feel rested and have the most energy. If you are planning to exercise outside, avoid extreme temperatures (warmer than 85° F or colder than 32° F). Remember to dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable, supportive footwear. An indoor contingency plan for exercise can help you stay active even during spring showers.

Step 3: Warm up and cool down

Aerobic exercise, such as walking or biking, is recommended for those getting started with a new routine. Your exercise session should start with a warm-up period of slow walking or low-resistance bicycling and end with a cool-down segment at similar intensity. At the end of exercise, stretch the major muscle groups used by holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds. This can minimize injury and fatigue and increase flexibility.

Step 4: Make it manageable

Begin your exercise routine with an amount of time that is manageable, something as short as a five-minute walk around the neighborhood. Once you’re comfortable exercising for that long, slowly increase the duration of your sessions. Don’t push yourself too hard, either. You should be able to maintain a conversation at all times of exercise without experiencing breathlessness.

Step 5: Stay active

Exercise shouldn’t be a slog, so make sure you’re doing something that you enjoy and makes you feel good. A successful start of a new routine will keep you motivated to continue and progress. Fitness trackers and fitness apps are additional options to stay engaged and monitor progress. Enlisting a companion for exercise will add an element of support and keep the activity enjoyable.


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While spring brings sunny days and warm weather, it also means the return of irritating spring allergies. Here's what you can do about them.

Tired of spring allergies? Here’s what you can do

While spring does bring sunny days and warm weather, the seasonal change also means the return of irritating spring allergies.

Dr. Beth Miller

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Seasonal allergies cause symptoms like sneezing, coughing and itching, and your reaction can range from bothersome to truly harmful. It’s important that you understand your allergies so you can feel your best.

We spoke with Dr. Beth Miller, director of the UK Asthma, Allergy & Sinus Clinic, to find out what habits will help prevent spring allergies.

What causes spring allergies?

Miller: Spring allergies can be caused by tree pollen and mold spores.

What medications do you recommend?

Miller: The best treatment depends upon your symptoms. Over-the-counter nasal sprays, like Flonase and Nasacort, can be very helpful for both runny and stuffy noses. Over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Zyrtec, Allegra and Claritin, are helpful for preventing other allergy symptoms like itchy, watery eyes and sneezing.

What other solutions are there for limiting spring allergies?

Miller: There are things you can do in your home to make a difference. You can start by keeping your windows closed and leaving your air conditioning on. This will help keep pollens and mold spores from entering your home.

Can environmental allergies be outgrown over time?

Miller: Unfortunately, no. The only known solution for environmental allergies is getting allergy shots. However, these shots are more likely to improve your symptoms than completely cure your allergies.

What are the differences in symptoms between allergies and a cold?

Miller: A cold will typically last 7-10 days, and allergies will last longer with exposure. Colds can include a fever, chills, body aches and a yellow/green nasal discharge. On the other hand, allergies typically won’t cause these symptoms, and the nasal discharge for allergies is usually clear.

What are the risks of not treating seasonal allergies?

Miller: If uncontrolled, seasonal allergies can cause a decrease in your quality of life, leading to symptoms like irritability, poor concentration and disturbed sleep. Also, if uncontrolled seasonal allergies linger for too long, they can lead to more serious problems like sinus and ear infections, as well an increased risk of developing asthma.

When is it necessary to see a doctor about allergies?

Miller: Consider seeing an allergist when your symptoms aren’t easily controlled, if you develop uneasy chest symptoms or sinus/ear infections, or if your quality of life is being compromised. An allergist will help you identify your specific allergens and suggest the best treatment.


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The American Diabetes Association of the Bluegrass is asking companies around Lexington to check their risk for Type 2 diabetes by participate in Alert Day.

It only takes 60 seconds to assess your risk for diabetes

Diabetes affects nearly 600,000 Kentuckians  that’s one in every eight people living in the state. And many in Kentucky who have the disease don’t even know it.

Over time, diabetes damages nerves and blood vessels, which can lead to complications such as heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve problems, gum infections and amputation. The good news is that recognizing possible diabetes symptoms early on can lead to successful diagnosis and treatment. Common early symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst and increased urination.
  • Weight loss and constant hunger.
  • Vision changes.
  • Fatigue.
  • Tingling hands and feet.
  • Red, swollen, tender gums.
  • Slow-healing sores or frequent infections.

Alert Day

Today is the American Diabetes Association’s Alert Day and a great opportunity to assess your risk for diabetes. Take the ADA’s Diabetes Risk Test to find out if you’re one of the nine in 10 Americans at risk for the disease. The test takes only 60 seconds to complete, and knowing your results is the first step toward a healthier lifestyle.


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UK Advanced Eye Care clinic now open.

UK Advanced Eye Care clinic opens in Shriners building

UK Advanced Eye Care opened the doors of its new clinic this week, ushering in a new era of expert ophthalmic care in Kentucky.

UK Advanced Eye Care, formerly located at the Kentucky Clinic, now occupies the fourth and fifth floors of the new Shriners Hospital for Children Medical Center  Lexington building. The Shriners building is located at 110 Conn Terrace, across the street from the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital. The new state-of-the-art clinic will be the flagship location for advanced ophthalmic care, research and education in Kentucky.

Designing a patient-friendly space

The patient-centered clinic is designed for ease of navigation and convenience. Patients can park in the UK HealthCare parking garage on Transcript Avenue and reach Shriners directly via a pedway located at Level C of the parking garage. Once inside the Shriners building, patients will take the elevator to the fourth or fifth floor, depending on where their appointment is.

Both clinic floors offer spacious reception areas for patient registration. The fifth floor, where pediatric specialists see patients, includes a playroom and resources for children and families.

The space is designed to move patients through testing and procedures efficiently in a pleasing and private environment. The new clinic has nearly double the number of exam rooms as the previous clinic, allowing our providers to care for more patients each day and offer shorter wait times.

UK HealthCare Optical is located near the fifth-floor lobby for patients who wish to purchase their eyewear on location. It offers a special section of pediatric eyewear for UK’s youngest patients. The fifth floor accommodates the administrative offices for faculty and staff. It also includes dedicated teaching space for residents and medical students, including a surgical skills lab and a medical library.

Dr. Julia Stevens, a provider at UK Advanced Eye Care, works with a pediatric patient.

Improving care with advanced medicine

UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences has long offered patients access to the most current and leading-edge technology for enhanced treatment. The clinic recruits elite physicians, researchers and scientists to support its clinical services, education and research program.

“UK has a long-standing commitment to world-class biomedical research, contributing to several major scientific discoveries and medical advances in the past few decades,” said Dr. Mark Kleinman, an ophthalmologist at UK Advanced Eye Care. “Our laboratories developed the first intraocular drug implants to treat vision-threatening eye infections and inflammation, engineered the first RNA-targeted therapeutics for the treatment of advanced dry macular degeneration, and identified several new biomarkers for age-related retinal diseases. We continue to build on these important and exciting research programs to improve our abilities to cure blindness and provide the most leading-edge eye care to our patients.”

UK’s research efforts related to pediatric eye care were recently given a boost with the addition of advanced pediatric electroretinogram, or ERG, equipment thanks to a gift from the Susan Bradley-Cox Tri For Sight program. This important equipment will allow full evaluation without sedation of children with unexplained vision loss, providing better understanding of genetic eye diseases for both research and clinical care.

Where people want to go

UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences sees about 60,000 patients each year for everything from preventive eye care to treatment for the most challenging ocular diseases.

“The new clinic will gives us the infrastructure we’ve needed to meet the high-quality care that we already provide,” said Dr. Andrew Pearson, chair of UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences. “We want to be the place that people of the state and region want to go to for complex eye care.”

UK has the largest multispecialty eye care group based solely in Kentucky. In addition to the clinic on the main medical campus in Lexington, UK has multiple outreach clinics throughout the state and works with community providers to offer the most comprehensive eye care available. Outreach clinic locations include Campbellsville, Corbin, Harlan, Lexington, London, Maysville, Nicholasville, Morehead, Paris, Richmond and Somerset.


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