UK collaboration provides improved stroke care in Eastern Kentucky

Kentucky has one of the highest rates of stroke in the nation, and in Eastern Kentucky, the burden of cardiovascular disease is especially severe. An innovative program is improving patient outcomes and saving money in the region by providing intensive, personalized support for stroke survivors and their families.

The Kentucky Care Coordination for Community Transitions program − a partnership between the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH) in Hazard, Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH), and the UK College of Health Sciences − integrates a CERH community health worker with the ARH rehabilitation team to help stroke survivors transition back to their homes and to facilitate a network of community support.

Established in 2014 with pilot funding from the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science and ARH, the project evolved into a permanent program in 2015. Just past its two-year anniversary, the program has supported nearly 150 individuals, helping them adjust to the new realities of life after a stroke, learn about chronic disease self-management, navigate complex health care and insurance systems, monitor their rehabilitation, and connect with other survivors and caregivers.

Improving health and saving money

The program has markedly improved health and well-being for participating stroke survivors, among whom there have been zero 30-day hospital readmissions and only one emergency department visit (which wasn’t stroke related). This is compared to 19 percent and 8 percent, respectively, of the matched control group of stroke survivors who chose not to join the program. The result is not only better health and quality of life for survivors and caregivers, but also a cost savings of more than $1.4 million over two years to the local healthcare system.

“We’re keeping people healthier and saving a phenomenal amount of money for the health care system,” said Patrick Kitzman, PhD, founding director of the program and professor of physical therapy in the UK College of Health Sciences. “But we also concentrate very much on the caregiver and family − we always look at the whole unit with our follow-up education and support.”

In 2016 alone, the program supported 70 individuals, including 512 encounters between the community health worker and participants and more than 1,000 provided services. Half of participants needed assistance obtaining durable medical equipment, 71 percent needed assistance obtaining essential medications, and 35 percent needed assistance obtaining health insurance.

Personal care

A critical element of the program’s success is the integration of the community health worker, Keisha Hudson, with the stroke rehabilitation team at ARH. Hudson, who is from the local community, participates in the discharge planning for participating stroke patients so that she can establish a relationship with them and their families while they’re still in the hospital and get a head start on arranging for anything they might need when they get home − shower chairs, wheelchair ramps, medical equipment, etc.

Hudson then visits patients at their home within a week of discharge and provides weekly face-to-face meetings or phone follow-up calls which tapers to bi-weekly or monthly check-ins as patients improve. Some patients, however, have stayed with the program since its beginning.

As she works with patients and families, Hudson provides health education and tracks compliance with medical visits and medication; when she notices that a patient has missed an appointment or medication, she figures out why. Sometimes the problem can be as simple as the patient lacking transportation, in which case Hudson can help them make arrangements to get to the clinic or pharmacy.

Such attention and regular communication allows Hudson to develop a personal relationship with patients and their families to the extent that she can often sense when something is “off” and intervene before a serious problem develops. While none of the patients in the transition program have been readmitted to the hospital for stroke complications within 30 days of discharge, Hudson’s attentive care has led to life-saving interventions related to patients’ other health issues; nearly 60 percent of participants have five or more co-morbid health conditions. Once, while speaking with a patient over the phone, Hudson recognized that the woman’s breathing sounded especially labored, and she told the patient to go to the hospital immediately. It turned out the woman had a dangerous level of fluid on her lungs and needed urgent treatment. While making a routine visit to check on a different patient, Hudson arrived to find them in a diabetic coma. With yet another patient, she caught an infected surgical site that required immediate attention.

Connecting with the community

Hudson also hosts a monthly stroke survivor and caregiver support group. It meets at the hospital, which allows currently hospitalized stroke survivors or their caregivers to come downstairs from the care unit and connect with the group before they go home.

“The program has evolved in the community because we’ve built trust as people hear about us through word of mouth. Some patients and caregivers have become really big advocates for us. One of the patients we’ve worked with for a while has had people in his community who’ve had strokes and he himself has referred them to us. We’ve proven to our community that we’re here to help and we’re here to stay and when we say we’re going to do something, we do it − that’s helped a lot,” Hudson said.


Next steps:

  • When it comes to preventing a stroke, simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference. Here are six things you can do to help reduce your risk of a stroke.
  • At the UK Comprehensive Stroke Center, we offer treatment, prevention and rehabilitation services for stroke patients.

First steps to take if your baby has Down syndrome

If you’re expecting a baby who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome, you may have many questions and concerns.

While this diagnosis may seem overwhelming, there is no need for panic – or despair. Although having Down syndrome means your baby will face challenges, many people with Down syndrome live full, productive, happy lives.

The most important thing you can do is educate yourself about the resources and support available to you and your family so that you can become your baby’s best advocate. Traci Brewer, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky (DSACK), offers these tips:

Your baby’s health. Children born with Down syndrome have a higher rate of heart abnormalities and other medical concerns than the general population. Your first step is to ensure that medical professionals are following the healthcare guidelines recommended by the National Down Syndrome Society. Your obstetrician and later your pediatrician may not have a great deal of experience with children with Down, so it is up to you to advocate for screenings at birth to rule out potential health risks. If you need help making a case for these screenings, enlist the aid of a genetic counselor.

Early intervention. Federal law mandates that states must provide early intervention for children with certain conditions, and Down syndrome qualifies. In Kentucky, this program is called First Steps. First Steps provides therapists such as speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists that will come to your home for therapy sessions. Make sure your hospital or pediatrician makes a referral to First Steps before you leave the hospital.

Fear. It’s normal to feel scared, but know that you are not alone. Try to relax, get to know your baby and enjoy your time together. Realize that many of your struggles are the same as those faced by any new parent. Statistics have shown that married couples with children who have Down syndrome have a lower rate of divorce than the general population, and siblings are often more compassionate and well-adjusted because of their relationship with their brother or sister with Down syndrome.

Get connected. The best resource for new parents will always be other parents. Many organizations offer free resources and lists of local parent groups. Locally, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky hosts new parent dinners, coffee chats, special events and much more to help parents connect with other parents of children with Down syndrome. DSACK can be found on the web at www.dsack.org.

Take it one day at a time. Stay informed, get connected and remember that you are doing your best. You don’t have to be a superhero, and just like other parents, you will make the best decisions you can. Love your children and try to keep everything in balance. Know that the positives far outweigh the negatives. People with Down syndrome go to school, have meaningful jobs and make significant contributions to society.


Next steps:

Barnstable Brown proud to sponsor UK Opera Theatre’s ‘It’s a Grand Night for Singing’

The UK HealthCare Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center is proud to sponsor the 25th anniversary of the UK Opera Theatre’s It’s a Grand Night for Singing, running now through June 19.

This is the first year of sponsorship between the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center and the UK Opera Theatre.

“We look forward to a long and wonderful relationship with the talented physicians and researchers working to find solutions to one of our nation’s most pressing health issues,” said Everett McCorvey, DMA, producer and executive director of the UK Opera Theatre.

About Barnstable Brown

Established in 2008, the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center is a multidisciplinary center designed to conduct research, provide medical management in every area of diabetes and deliver educational support to assist patients and families in implementing lifestyle changes.

Patricia Barnstable-Brown and her twin sister, Priscilla Barnstable, host the annual Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Eve Gala. The celebrity-packed gala’s financial impact to the diabetes center at UK has been about $13 million over the past 10 years.


Next steps:

UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network

Markey extends cancer network to Somerset

Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset has announced a new affiliation with the UK Markey Cancer Center, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.

The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network was created to provide high-quality cancer care closer to home for patients across the region and to minimize the effects of cancer through prevention and education programs, exceptional clinical care, and access to research.

By becoming a Markey affiliate, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital will now be able to offer its patients access to additional specialty and subspecialty physicians and care, including clinical trials and advanced technology, while allowing them to stay in South Central Kentucky for most treatments.

The Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network supports UK HealthCare’s overall mission of ensuring no Kentuckian will have to leave the state to get access to top-of-the-line healthcare.

“UK HealthCare doesn’t just serve Lexington and Central Kentucky – our mission is to provide all Kentuckians with the best possible care right here in the state,” said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs. “The Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network allows us to collaborate with community hospitals to provide top-notch cancer care much closer to home – saving both travel expenses and time for the patients, in addition to keeping them close to their personal support system.”

Established in 1976, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital is a 295-bed acute care facility, providing healthcare services for an 11-county service area in South Central Kentucky. With more than 40 physician specialties and nearly 200 physicians on staff, Lake Cumberland offers the most comprehensive services in the region.

“As we work toward fulfilling our mission of ‘Making Communities Healthier,’ it is clear to me that the relationship between Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital and the Markey Cancer Center will go a long way in achieving that goal,” said Tim Bess, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital chief executive officer. “Our community will benefit greatly from this relationship. We are honored to partner with the UK Markey Cancer Center.”

Markey is one of only 69 medical centers in the country to earn an NCI cancer center designation. Because of the designation, Markey patients have access to new drugs, treatment options and clinical trials offered only at NCI centers.

Moving forward, Markey is working toward the next tier of designation – an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Currently, 47 of the 69 NCI-designated cancer centers in the country hold a comprehensive cancer center status. The Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network will play a significant role in bringing that next level of cancer funding to Kentucky.

“The burden of cancer in Kentucky is huge, and unfortunately we have some of the worst cancer rates in the country,” said Dr. Timothy Mullett, medical director of the UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network. “By collaborating with our affiliate hospitals across the state, we have the potential to make a serious impact on cancer care here in the Commonwealth.”

The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network began in 2006 and currently has 17 member hospitals across the state of Kentucky. Learn more.


Next steps:

To increase the number of preventive colorectal screenings, the UK Markey Cancer Center will follow a National Cancer Institute (NCI) initiative.

Markey joins national colorectal cancer screening initiative

The UK Markey Cancer Center is joining a National Cancer Institute (NCI) initiative aimed at improving colorectal cancer screening rates among men and women aged 50 and older from racially, ethnically and geographically diverse communities.

The national Screen to Save (S2S) Colorectal Cancer Outreach and Screening Initiative is led by the NCI’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women combined. Kentucky’s mortality rate is among the highest in the country, and more than 800 people in the state die from the disease each year.

Markey’s Mindy Rogers, a community health educator, will collaborate with state and regional organizations and community stakeholders throughout Appalachian Kentucky to conduct the initiative’s culturally tailored education and outreach.

“Colorectal cancer is a screenable cancer. The earlier we can find the disease, the better the chances of survival,” Rogers said. “The intent of this initiative is to provide additional community and regional resources to aid our efforts to improve cancer screening rates and save lives. The S2S effort complements many of our existing colorectal cancer outreach programs conducted by colleagues at Markey and its affiliates, the Kentucky Cancer Program and our local health departments.”

S2S stems from research recommendations from the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel and will be supported by the Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program Region 1 North, led by Dr. Mark Dignan, the co-leader of Markey Cancer Prevention and Control.


Next steps:

Empowering those in our community affected by Down syndrome

Written by Traci Brewer, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky (DSACK). UK HealthCare is proud to support DSACK and many other community organizations.

Today, March 21, is World Down Syndrome Day. Why? Because it’s 3/21, and people with Down syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome. That means they have 47 chromosomes instead of the typical 46, so we like to say they have a little something extra.

A lot has changed over the years for people with Down syndrome and for those who help care for them. As recently as the 1980s, individuals with Down syndrome had an average life expectancy of 25. Today, thanks to better medical treatments and screening, people with Down syndrome can live well into their 60s.

Education has also changed dramatically. As recently as the 1980s, families were told to institutionalize their loved ones with Down syndrome because they would never be able to read, write, talk, or contribute anything of value to their family or society. Today, right here in Kentucky, people with Down syndrome are attending college, working in meaningful jobs, driving, dating, volunteering in their communities and living productive, meaningful lives.

Organizations such as the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky provide support for new families and empower self-advocates and their families by providing important information such as early math and literacy learning, financial planning, Individualized Education Plans consulting, career planning, and much more. One of our most exciting initiatives is We Work!, a multiphase program for students age 15 and older that teaches job skills, leadership skills, how to explore career opportunities and how to serve as peer mentors.

Recently someone said that DSACK has a great story to tell and many more chapters to be written. We still have more milestones to reach, more bridges to cross and many more chapters to write. You can learn more about us by visiting our website at www.dsack.org and by visiting our Facebook page, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky.


Next steps:

The Snow Baby Bunny Project collects items and monetary donations for NICU families in need. Items included diapers, toys, onesies and a reassuring note.

Helping NICU families have happy holidays

Two years ago, Sunny King began to volunteer at UK HealthCare as a “baby cuddler.” When volunteers were no longer able to enter the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) last year, King was determined to do something to support the patients and families during the holidays. Since it was the holiday season, she thought a gift basket could help them with their new bundles of joy. NICU managers shared with King the items patients and their families were in need of during their transition, and King got to work collecting.

From that discussion, the Snow Bunny Baby Project was born.

The Snow Baby Bunny Project

In 2015, King and a team of volunteers worked together to collect donated items and monetary donations. The baskets included diapers, toys, onesies and a note to reassure families they were supported, not only by UK HealthCare, but by their community as well. Last year the group was able to assemble and distribute baskets to all the families in UK HealthCare’s NICU. The goal for this year is to create 80 baskets – 70 for UK HealthCare and 10 for Saint Joseph East. King hopes that each year the project will be able to grow and eventually other regional hospitals can be included.

After baskets are assembled, they are given to families by NICU managers. According to King, this project was started as a way to “show love to moms” and as a “love-offering for families.” Having a sick child, especially a sick newborn, can be incredibly stressful, and the holiday season can often add to that stress. This gesture helps families have one less thing to worry about.

How you can help

Those interested in donating items can bring them to the hospital volunteer office in Pavilion A of Albert B. Chandler Hospital. Monetary contributions can be given and will be used to purchase items; a gift of $25 covers the cost of an entire basket and 100 percent of proceeds will go to purchasing items for baskets.

Items needed for baskets include:

  • Baby wash
  • Diapers, size two
  • Baby wipes (70-100 count)
  • Infant toys
  • Infant wash cloths
  • Onesies (size 6 to 9 months)

Monetary donations can be mailed to UK HealthCare Volunteer Services at 1000 S. Limestone, Lexington, KY 40536.

For further information on the project or to make a donation, Sunny King can be reached at sunnynicoleking@gmail.com.


Next steps:

For more than 30 years, employees at the University of Kentucky and UK HealthCare have worked to fulfill wishes during the holiday season. Each year, the Circle of Love program has expanded and reached more children in and around Fayette County.

Here’s your chance to make a child’s holiday wishes come true

For more than 30 years, employees at the University of Kentucky and UK HealthCare have worked to fulfill wishes during the holiday season. Each year, the Circle of Love program has expanded and reached more children in and around Fayette County.

More magical every year

Planning begins in July and a committee made up of UK employees works to ensure each year is more magical than the last. Shawna Baker, Barbara Bush and Betty Newsom are three of the members of the committee that ensure children across the Bluegrass will receive holiday gifts. With a combined 49 years of experience volunteering with this project, they have distributing wish lists, collecting presents, wrapping and transporting gifts down to a science.

Baker said this opportunity as a volunteer has helped her “get involved and get to learn about the surrounding community.” Each year, committee members are provided a county, and they are responsible for getting in touch with guidance counselors at the various schools and getting a list of names and wish lists from students.

Gifts from big to small

While some participants go big with their wish list, many students’ requests are simple. “Their wants are things so many people take for granted,” Newsom said. Wish lists often include winter coats, hats and gloves. Children participating in this program range from elementary students to high schoolers, but gift requests can include items for infants and toddlers, as some students use this opportunity to request gifts for younger family members.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved. With more than 800 children participating in this year’s event, there are plenty of chances for individuals and departments to adopt a child or children and do some shopping. Thanks to the committee members, volunteers and the generosity of the UK HealthCare community, these holiday wishes can be fulfilled.

How you can help

Students and staff will have the opportunity to select a wish list at several locations on the medical campus during the following days:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 16 to Friday, Nov. 18
  • Monday, Nov. 21 to Wednesday, Nov. 23
  • Monday, Nov. 28 to Friday, Dec. 2

At these locations:

  • Gift of Life Wall in UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital Pavillion A from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Third floor of the Kentucky Clinic from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Good Samaritan Hospital from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wrapped gifts with wish list cards can be returned Monday, Dec. 5, or Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the following locations:

  • Chandler Hospital Pavillion A Atrium, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Good Samaritan Hospital Administration office, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On Friday, Dec. 9, buses and vans will arrive in front of UK Chandler Hospital to be loaded with gifts.


Next steps:

  • UK HealthCare off-site and shift employees interested in picking up a wish list outside of the listed hours can email Volunteer Services Manager Katie Tibbitts at tibbitts@uky.edu.
  • Learn more about our programs for kids by visiting Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
Songs for Sound Hear the Music

Songs for Sound event benefits UK Cochlear Implant Program

For the third year, the UK Cochlear Implant Program and the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center are partnering with Songs for Sound, a program dedicated to improving the quality of life for those who have profound hearing loss.

Songs for Sound will host its Hear the Music event in Lexington, bringing some of country music’s most elite songwriters to share their music and the stories behind the lyrics. All proceeds benefit the UK Cochlear Implant Program and the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center. This year’s event will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6 at the Manchester Music Hall.

Dr. Matthew Bush

Dr. Matthew Bush

“Songs for Sound Hear the Music event is such an important event for our patients, the University of Kentucky and our region” said Dr. Matthew Bush, a clinician and researcher at UK Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery and leader of the UK Cochlear Implant Program.

“It represents a collaborative effort among dedicated clinicians, amazing patients and the generous Songs for Sound team. Our cochlear implant program has grown progressively over the past 20 years and this event will enable us to expand our research and extent our reach to provide the absolute best hearing healthcare for patient throughout Kentucky and beyond. This will be a fantastic event that will highlight top country artists and patients who, in spite of their hearing loss, have regained the ability to hear the music.”

Songs for Sound was founded by Jamie and Kevin Vernon of Nashville, parents of Lexi, who at 1 1/2 years old, was diagnosed with profound hearing loss. The Vernons learned that Lexi was eligible for a cochlear implant  a small electronic device implanted just behind the ear  which brought sound into their daughter’s life and allowed her to blossom into an active, speaking and hearing child.

Songs for Sound travels across the country hosting Hear the Music events with the help of friends from Nashville’s music industry, in an effort to raise awareness of profound hearing loss. The organization provides free hearing screenings and access to needed resources, such as the resources found at UK, the primary cochlear implant center of Central and Eastern Kentucky since 1989.


Next steps:

  • Interested in attending this year’s Songs for Sound event? Sponsorship tickets for the event start at $30 per ticket or $50 for two. General admission tickets can be purchased for $10. To purchase tickets, visit Songs for Sound online or call 917-796-1636.
  • Learn more about cochlear implants, including who is a candidate for the device and how they’re different from hearing aids.
Health care for LGBTQ community

UK coalition aims to improve health care for LGBTQ community

Concerns about privacy, safety, stigmatization and quality of care often deter members of the LGBTQ community from accessing health care services and resources. Disengagement from the health care system has contributed to many health disparities affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer population.

A new coalition at the University of Kentucky is working to increase LGBTQ health care engagement and provide safe clinical environments for LGBTQ individuals seeking treatment.

Transform Health is a health care home serving LGBTQ patients in the Lexington and UK community. The university-wide initiative comprises UK faculty members and health care providers, including doctors, nurses and counselors, as well community members.

The initiative aims to improve patient care, conduct evidence-based research, market and promote LGBTQ-specific health services, and educate health care providers about customizing care to the distinctive needs of these patients.

“Our objective is to promote health services centered on the unique needs of LGBTQ patients,” said Dr. Keisa Fallin-Bennett, a UK Family & Community Medicine physician and Transform Health task force member.

“Creating inclusive health care settings is not just about providing services. We are building a movement through patient care, provider training and research that aims to improve the climate of health care for LGBTQ individuals in the local community. We want patients to be able to identify a safe and welcoming space for care and be a resource for students and providers.”

Transform Health providers, who are located at multiple UK clinic locations, offer medical treatment and services for the specific medical and psychological needs of LGBTQ patients. These nurses, doctors, counselors, and educators foster inclusive environments while providing medical treatment and services such as preventive care, hormone therapy, counseling and tobacco cessation therapies.


Next steps:

  • Transform Health clinics are located at the UK Family & Community Medicine clinic at Turfland. Appointments are available this fall. To make an appointment or refer a patient, call 859-323-6371 and ask for a Transform Health Clinic appointment.
  • Students who use University Health Service and are seeking a specific hormone therapy through a Transform Health provider should ask for the specific need when making their appointment. To reach UHS, call 859-323-2778.
  • Learn more about Transform Health and the UK Office of LGBTQ Resources.