Dr. Matthew Bush, cochlear implant

UK doctor working to bring cochlear implant access, gift of hearing to Appalachia

The first time Dr. Matthew Bush observed a cochlear implant surgery, he was a young medical student from West Virginia visiting the University of Kentucky. He describes that experience as eye opening for him and ear opening for the patient.

Dr. Matthew Bush

Dr. Matthew Bush

To witness function restored to an ear that was otherwise lost, sparked not only an intense interest in hearing health care, but also the desire to offer people with profound hearing loss their best hope of re-entering a hearing world and a better quality of life through cochlear implantation.

Hearing loss affects about 48 million people in the United States. More than 694,000 of those people live in Kentucky. In older Americans, hearing loss is the third most common chronic public health problem after heart disease and arthritis.

Bush, now associate professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at UK HealthCare, has come full circle to lead the cochlear implant program at the very place he received his first exposure to the miracle of what cochlear implants can do for people whose hearing has declined to the point that even the most sophisticated of hearing aids can’t help.

As a physician, surgeon, teacher and researcher, he knows his mission is much more encompassing than treating the people who come to him.

“There are people who don’t even realize they have hearing loss and parents who don’t realize that their children have hearing loss, putting them at great risk for developmental delays, which can have negative consequences that will impact the rest of their lives,” Bush said.

Targeting Appalachia

There are people who have never heard about cochlear implants, and something even more concerning to Bush, there are people, particularly in rural Appalachia where he was born and raised, who don’t have the resources or ability to travel long distances to receive the help they desperately need in order to hear.

Bush’s rigorous research agenda at UK includes multiple ongoing studies, all with the main goal of developing methods to provide Kentuckians of all ages with a timely diagnosis and access to hearing health care. His most current study targets health disparities that exist between people in Appalachian areas and those in urban areas. Previous studies demonstrate that not only is hearing loss more prevalent in rural regions, but the time an individual becomes aware of hearing loss to actually receiving care, is double that of their urban counterparts. Many people with profound hearing loss are likely candidates for cochlear implants but their use of them is quite low.

Bush hypothesizes that an innovative and effective way to reach rural Kentuckians from UK is through the use of telemedicine, videoconference technology that connects health care providers in one location to the patient in another. They can see and hear each other, just as if they were in the same room.

In his current study, Bush will evaluate the hearing of patients from rural areas at the UK ENT Morehead location through the use of telemedicine to determine cochlear implant candidacy. The patient will sit in front of a specially designed computerized remote hearing cart with a computer screen. There, the patient will see and interact with UK audiologist Meg Adkins, who is working with Bush on this project. Adkins will perform the hearing evaluation from her office in Lexington.

The patient hears the test through calibrated headphones or a calibrated speaker connected to the audiometer. The audiometer is controlled remotely by Adkins. Patients will hear Adkins either through the headphones or a separate speaker attached to the cart designed for consultation. They see each other by using video conferencing technology.

For purposes of the study, Bush and a team of multidisciplinary providers will compare remote hearing evaluations with in-person evaluations to assess the practicality and cost assessing cochlear implant candidacy through this method. The success of his research will potentially impact existing health disparities by extending UK’s reach into Appalachian areas and expanding access to care for people who might not otherwise have the ability, or the resources, to travel a long distance to UK’s medical campus.

“Our primary goal is that we can achieve diagnostic assessment via telemedicine that is identical in accuracy to those obtained in the clinic so the patient has no concerns about the quality of their service,” Adkins said. “But our telemedicine team has also worked very hard to ensure we can produce such a high quality audio and video interaction, that patients feel just as comfortable with their remote appointment as they would have felt with an in-person session. We hope to demonstrate that cochlear implant assessment via telemedicine can be perceived as warm and interesting, as opposed to cool and clinical. If we achieve that, we then have the basis for building rapport and trusting relationships with our distance patients.”

Lifelong mission

Since the time he first observed a cochlear implant surgery, Bush has immersed himself into the study of a how one tiny electronic device implanted behind the ear and just under the skin, will allow a nearly deaf individual to hear and interpret sounds and speech. Restored hearing can potentially impact every aspect of a person’s life, both physically and emotionally. For a child living in a world of near silence, the impact is even more striking.

“My first cochlear implant patient here at UK was a child who had suddenly lost their hearing as a complication of meningitis. That child was unable to interact or communicate with family and there was a definite sense of urgency that I shared with the family and our cochlear implant team,” Bush said. After a successful operation and the programming of the device, that child was brought back into the world of listening without skipping a beat.

“The joy of seeing that child regain function and quality of life further reinforced my desire to improve hearing and provide hearing health care for other patients in similar situations,” Bush said.

This current work in telemedicine demonstrates that commitment to transform delivery of hearing health care, he said. Access to hearing specialists through telemedicine could influence patients’ readiness to seek further treatment for their hearing loss.

“Connecting cochlear implant specialists with patients with hearing loss in remote locations for the delivery of education regarding hearing loss treatments, diagnostic testing, and counseling regarding cochlear implantation represents an important step to deliver the most advanced medicine to patients,” Bush said.


Next steps:

  • Could a cochlear implant help you or someone who know? Learn more about our program.
  • The cochlear implant program is part of UK Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery department. Find out more about our comprehensive care related to the ear, nose and throat.
Dr. Sean Skinner teaches surgery basics to first-graders

My experience teaching surgery to first-graders

Written by Dr. Sean Skinner, pediatric surgeon at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Sean Skinner

Dr. Sean Skinner

Not many first-grade science curriculums include hands-on surgical training, but that’s exactly the lesson I taught to my daughter’s class earlier this year.

As a pediatric surgeon, I had the opportunity to talk with my daughter and her first-grade peers at Sayre School in Lexington as part of a larger lesson about machines in workplaces. When she mentioned to her teacher, Mrs. Angela Hardin,  that I “worked with machines and robots at the hospital,” Mrs. Hardin offered me the opportunity to share my experiences with the class.

What followed was an exploration of surgery seen through the eyes of first-graders. I showed them the tools I use on a daily basis and fit them for surgical masks. I then explained to them that laparoscopy is a kind of surgery where we make very small cuts and perform the procedure with the assistance of a small camera that goes inside of a person’s body.

With the basics out of the way, the real fun started. The kids got to try their hands at the same laparoscopic training machines we use at the hospital. Using surgical tools attached to a camera and monitor, they performed a short drill of picking up beads from one cup and moving them to another. It didn’t take long for them to realize just how hard it is to use the instruments while watching a monitor at the same time.

I had a blast seeing how excited the kids were to use the simulators and answering all of their questions about surgery and being a doctor.

Pediatric surgery is no doubt a complicated subject for first-graders, but I think it’s important for children to learn about as many different careers as possible. Through activities like the one at my daughter’s school, kids are able to see what their parents and what other parents do.

I think it would be great to do this type of presentation and hands-on learning activity with more classrooms in Lexington and bring it to different age groups. The more topics children are exposed to at a young age, the better.

Of course, I think learning about science is important for all students and doing so at an early age could spur their interest in science and medicine going forward.

And who knows, maybe an activity like this could spark the next great scientist of the future.


Next steps:

UK Markey Cancer Center joins Cancer Moonshot

Cancer Moonshot Summit at Markey spurs inspired conversation

World-class experts, cancer survivors and advocates joined forces at the UK Markey Cancer Center on Wednesday to contribute to the nationwide Cancer Moonshot Summit conversation.

Markey hosted an official Cancer Moonshot Summit in conjunction with the national Moonshot Summit held in Washington, D.C. Markey was one of 32 American Association of Cancer Institute centers to host a summit. Across the nation, more than 270 groups hosted their own events and receptions related to the Cancer Moonshot initiative.

For more, check out USA Today’s article on the Markey Moonshot Summit conversation.

Established by President Barack Obama during the 2016 State of the Union address and led by Vice President Joe Biden, the goal of the Cancer Moonshot is to double the rate of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care over the next five years and to ultimately end cancer.

“The Moonshot cannot be achieved by one person, one organization, one discipline or even one collective approach,” Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday. “Solving the complexities of cancer will require the formation of new alliances to defy the bounds of innovation and accelerate the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately a cure. It’s going to require millions of Americans speaking up and contributing what they’re able. That’s what the Cancer Moonshot Summit is all about.”

At Markey, more than 100 people attended the summit, including cancer physicians, researchers, staff, patients, caregivers, philanthropists and others who play a role in cancer care. Attendees were divided into 11 groups to facilitate discussions on barriers to cancer research and care, ultimately developing a list of specific problems and suggested solutions to send on to the White House.

“This has just been a phenomenal event,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. “Everybody coming together to talk about the problems we now face in cancer care and how we deliver cancer care is just really unique. Here at Markey, we wanted to look broadly at the initiatives of the Cancer Moonshot, but we want to tailor it to some unique challenges we face here in Kentucky.”

 


Next steps:

Team "Sun Shall Shine" is ready to "Survive the Night" to benefit cancer awareness.

UK HealthCare athletes ready to ‘Survive the Night’ to raise cancer awareness

In most work environments, teambuilding exercises usually don’t require actual physical activity. But for the UK HealthCare employees participating in this weekend’s second Survive the Night Triathlon, bonding will form over 140.7 miles of swimming, biking and running through the night into the early morning.

Developed by Markey Cancer Center radiation oncologist Dr. Jonathan Feddock, an avid triathlete, the event is a relay that allows up to 10 people to take on different sections of the race, playing to their personal strengths. Survive the Night is a part of a two-day bicycling event happening this weekend. All proceeds will benefit cancer research and programs at the UK Markey Cancer Center and the pediatric oncology clinic at Kentucky Children’s Hospital..

Team Running on Vapor, formed by nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists who work in the brachytherapy suite with Feddock, is taking a second go-round in Survive the Night after competing last year. Team members Robbie Campbell and John Fletcher competed last year and say they’re looking forward to a repeat performance.

“We had a really good time last year,” Campbell said. “We developed a lot of camaraderie as a department.”

“We don’t really see each other until lunch or a break,” Fletcher added. “With this event, you got to see everyone in a completely different environment.”

Inspiration to others

Pharmacy resident Beth Cady, captain of Team Sun Shall Shine, heard about the event through the Bluegrass Cycling Club. As a former high school teacher and coach, and an athlete herself, Cady decided to gather a team of pharmacy specialists from the Markey Cancer Center, Transplant Center, and other parts of UK HealthCare to enter the competition this year. Cady says her team has two main objectives going into the race.

“Our goals are to complete something none of us have ever done, and also to just be an inspiration to others,” Cady said. “We’re just looking to have fun and spread a positive message.”

Team Sun Shall Shine’s inspiration comes from someone very close to the UK pharmacy community: Shane Winstead, who served as a pharmacy specialist for UK HealthCare for more than 20 years and continues to mentor young pharmacists at the university. Diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in January 2015, Shane’s positivity in light of a dire situation has rallied everyone around her.

“Her personality, her positive attitude, and her zest for life have been very infectious,” Cady said. “She’s been a driving force in our department. We were looking for some way to honor her, but also to exemplify the life she’s been living for the past two years.”

Cady’s group also has a special secret weapon. To further energize their team, Shane’s daughter Madison — an elite swimmer who will enter UK as a freshman this fall — will swim a few laps at the beginning of the race. Due to her training for the Olympic trials, the swimming will be more symbolic than competitive, but it’s one more way the team is honoring Shane and showing their strength as not just co-workers, but as family — or “pharmily,” as they affectionately call themselves.

“So Madison’s going to swim a few laps followed by a few of us not-so-qualified swimmers,” Cady said. “But we’ve got some triathletes on our team. We’re not necessarily looking to win, but we feel like we’re gonna do a darn good job out there.”

Standing up for Markey patients

Beginning this Friday at 7:30 p.m., teams Running on Vapor and Sun Shall Shine will take to the pool on UK’s campus alongside 22 other teams to kick off the Survive the Night Triathlon.

While the teams trickle in to the finish line at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday morning, the Lexington Cancer Foundation is also hosting its annual Roll for the Cure bike event at Commonwealth to raise awareness and funds for cancer care. Participants can choose the length of their ride: 95, 50, 35, or 10 miles through Kentucky horse farms, or a short Family Fun ride around the stadium. The longer rides will include rest stops at Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve.

Knowing that this event was created by a Markey doctor and directly benefits the patients at the cancer center is another reason Campbell felt compelled to compete again this year.

“It’s really motivating to see Dr. Feddock put himself out there for his patients,” Campbell said. “It feels like we’re all taking some ownership of the hospital.”

“I’m sure everyone knows at least someone in their life who has been affected by cancer,” Cady said. “So we wanted to raise awareness, potentially fundraise, and just do something good.”

UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital

KNI Stroke Center awarded for high-quality patient care

UK HealthCare’s Kentucky Neuroscience Institute (KNI) has received the Get With The Guidelines – Stroke Gold-Plus Quality Achievement Award by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for maintaining nationally recognized standards for the treatment of stroke patients.

KNI also received the association’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite for meeting stroke quality measures that reduce the time between hospital arrival and treatment with the clot-buster tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke.

Over 12 months, at least 75 percent of the hospital’s ischemic stroke patients received tPA within 60 minutes of arriving at the hospital (known as door-to-needle time). Stroke patients who receive tPA within three hours of the onset of symptoms may recover more quickly and are less likely to suffer severe disability.

This year marks the sixth year that KNI has received Gold Plus designation. KNI has been named to the Target: Stroke Honor Roll the past three years and repeats for the ‘elite’ level that was introduced last year.

Kentucky patients aren’t the only ones benefiting from this achievement.

“By participating in the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke program, we are able to share our expertise with other member hospitals around the country, including access to the most up-to-date research, clinical tools and resources, and patient education resources,” said Dr. Jessica Lee, medical director of the KNI Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Dr. Larry Goldstein, chair of the UK Department of Neurology and co-director of KNI, said that “Comprehensive Stroke Center status reflects our capability to provide the most advanced care for patients with stroke. These awards further underscore the hard work of our multidisciplinary team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, emergency physicians, nurses, therapists and others to optimize care delivery for stroke patients right here in Lexington.”

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. In Kentucky, cardiovascular disease (which includes stroke) is the leading cause of death.  On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 785,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

The KNI Stroke Center is also also certified as a “Comprehensive Stroke Center” by The Joint Commission – its highest honor.

New installation showcases artwork of UK alumna

For 25 years, Ellen Skidmore has found solace in art. As a stutterer, Skidmore discovered the non-verbal communication experienced in painting to be liberating and grounding. During her time as a student at a small liberal arts college in Kentucky, she began painting seriously. It was then she began to realize how this visual communication would allow her to interact more openly with herself and those around her.

While working on a children’s book to teach the alphabet, Skidmore began to share her story of living with a stutter and ultimately the book evolved and became, “Ellen the Little Girl Who Found her Voice.” This story serves as somewhat of an autobiography to illustrate how, like many children, Ellen was able to adapt and overcome. Skidmore hopes viewers will respond to the overall message that it’s okay to be different and we don’t need to try to be perfect.

After writing the story, Skidmore, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts, created the illustrations that would accompany the words. These larger pieces were put on display and, last summer, Skidmore celebrated the works completion with an art exhibit and book launch at Forre & Co. Art Gallery in Aspen, Colorado.

Skidmore feels a clinical setting is perfect for this piece; she hopes patients, staff and visitors will see her work. “Find your passion; if you find something in your life that is grounding you should stick to it no matter what,” she said.

The exhibit is currently on display in the North Gallery, located on the third floor of the Kentucky Clinic, in the hallway leading to the Limestone pedestrian bridge connecting the clinic to the Biomedical Biological Sciences Research Building. It is brought to you by the UK Arts in HealthCare program.


Studies show that integrating the arts into health care settings cultivates a healing environment; supports the physical, mental and emotional recovery of patients; and communicates health and recovery information. It also helps reduce stress and improves workplace satisfaction for caregivers. The mission of the UK Arts in HealthCare Program is to create a healing environment of care and to focus on the spiritual and emotional well-being of our patients, families, caregivers and staff.

The UK Arts in HealthCare Program, supported by the generosity of private donors, brings together visual and performing arts, incorporating the unique aspects of Kentucky landscape, art and music. The program highlights local, national and international artists, art in multiple forms, and various initiatives to enhance the healing environment. You will find art throughout our facilities, and the public is always welcome to visit and view exhibits.


 

Prevent Zika virus in Kentucky with repellent.

What you should know about Zika virus this summer

Talk of the Zika virus is everywhere these days, and it has many people understandably worried. On Tuesday, UK HealthCare experts held a news conference to answer questions about Zika. The bottom line? If you’re here in Kentucky and aren’t planning to travel this summer, your risk of catching Zika is very low. But there are things you can do to be prepared in case that risk increases this summer.

“At the present time, the risk for infection is low for Kentuckians not traveling to areas with active Zika,” said Dr. Phillip Chang, UK HealthCare chief medical officer. “However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to provide updates and if locally transmitted cases are found in the U.S., the risk could increase.”

What is Zika virus?

The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites or through sexual contact with an infected person. Currently, virus transmission is happening in many Caribbean and Central and South American countries. Although many people who become infected have mild or no symptoms, pregnant women who contract the disease are at high risk for complications. Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a potentially fatal neurological disorder characterized by an abnormally small head.

Currently, the only cases in the U.S. have been travel-associated. But concern is growing about the possibility of travelers spreading it to mosquitoes in the U.S., which can then infect people who have not traveled to countries with the active virus. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the main carrier of the virus, can be found in the U.S. during the summer months, including Kentucky. This means that the Zika virus in Kentucky could be a real possibility.

“Currently, there is no anti-viral treatment and no vaccine for the Zika virus, so we are focusing on prevention and risk reduction and, if necessary, proper screening for our patients if Zika becomes a concern in the region,” said Dr. Derek Forster, UK HealthCare medical director for infection prevention and control.

Pregnant women and Zika

Since February, UK HealthCare’s obstetrics and gynecology clinics have been educating patients on the risks of Zika, particularly for pregnant patients or pregnant patients with partners who travel to these areas, said Dr. Wendy Hansen,chair of UK Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“We have been telling pregnant patients to postpone travel to areas with outbreaks of Zika virus, which currently is nearly all of Central America and much of the Caribbean and South America,” Hansen said. “We also are counseling and advising patients on what to do if they have partners that plan to or have traveled to these areas.”

According to current CDC guidelines, the following special precautions are recommended for pregnant women:

  • Pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika.
  • If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor or other health care provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
  • Until more is known, pregnant women with male sex partners who have lived in or traveled to an area with Zika virus should either use a condom every time they have sex or abstain from sex throughout the pregnancy.

Precautions for everyone

While the Zika virus is most dangerous for pregnant women who risk complications, everyone is urged to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites during the summer months to prevent possible spread of the disease.

Precautions include:

  • Wearing protective clothes, including long-sleeved shirts and long pants. For extra protection, treat clothing with permethrin, a chemical that repels insects and kills mosquitoes and ticks when sprayed on clothing, tents and other gear.
  • Using an EPA-registered insect repellent every day containing one or more of the following active ingredients: DEET, PICARIDIN or IR3535.
  • Using screens on windows and doors, and using air conditioning when available.
  • Keeping mosquitoes from laying eggs in and near standing water near your home.

“Although these precautions are especially important for pregnant women and women of childbearing age who want to become pregnant, we want everyone to educate themselves on how to protect their family members and friends,” Hansen said.

Watch UK HealthCare experts discuss Zika virus below.

 


Next steps:

  • The CDC recommends that testing for the Zika virus be done for pregnant women who have recently traveled somewhere with active Zika or anyone who has traveled and has symptoms.
  • For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC’s website.

Appalachian Research Day shows community-based health care efforts

For many UK researchers who study health in Appalachia, the Center of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH) is an indispensable partner in conducting community-based research. The Center, located in Hazard, connects researchers with the local community and provides necessary infrastructure, from conference rooms to a team of community health workers, called Kentucky Homeplace, who engage participants and gather data.

This week, researchers shared the findings from these community-based studies at the second annual Appalachian Research Day.

“Today is an opportunity for people who do research with the Center to report back about their findings, and see what we can come up with together to better our lives here in Appalachia,” said Fran Feltner, director of the CERH.

Addressing Appalachian health issues

Rural Appalachian communities in Eastern Kentucky experience some of the nation’s most concerning health disparities, including elevated rates of obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, depression, and cancer incidence and death. Residents of Appalachia might also face challenges in accessing health care, such as distance from providers, lack of insurance, or socioeconomic barriers.

Community-based research is essential in addressing disproportionate rates of poor health by collaboratively identifying problems and developing shared solutions that are a good fit for communities. For this type of research to succeed, it must begin at the local level, built upon the foundation of relationships with individuals, neighborhoods and groups who have common questions and concerns. In Eastern Kentucky, the CERH has enabled community-based studies since 1990, when it was founded to improve health through education, service, and research.

In 2015, the CERH launched Appalachian Research Day as an opportunity to share and discuss research findings with the communities that were involved in the studies. Feltner describes the day as an invitation for everyone involved in community health research to “come sit on the porch” of the Center and talk about their work and ongoing needs. More than 100 researchers, coordinators, community health workers, community advisory board members, students, and staff participated this year, with four podium presentations and 13 poster presentations.

“These research findings drive new and exciting health initiatives that are transforming lives across our rural Appalachian region,” Feltner said.

Researching change

The presen­tations focused on community research related to healthy lifestyles, depression, lung cancer screening, drug use and risk behaviors in Appalachia.

Mark Dignan, professor in the UK College of Medicine and director of the UK Prevention Research Center, discussed his work with faith-based communities to study energy balance, obesity and cancer in Appalachia.  According to the CDC, the national obesity rate in adults is about 29 percent, while in Appalachian states the rate is 31-35 percent. Dignan was particularly interested in how to help people re-engineer their lives to include more physical activity.

“When you do research in the community, hopefully you’ll make change that will be lasting,” he said.

Rates of depression are also higher in Appalachia than the rest of the country. For Appalachian women, the rate of depression is four times higher than the national rate. They are also less likely to receive adequate treatment, according to Claire Snell-Rood, PhD, who shared her research on adapting treatment options for rural settings where the traditional mental health system is both inappropriate and inadequate.

“This research focuses on how to adapt evidence-based programs to address not only limited treatment options in rural areas, but the substantial social and health challenges that impede Appalachian women from obtaining the care they need,” she said.

Snell-Rood worked with Kentucky Homeplace community health workers to conduct interviews with women, and she is currently adopting a collaborative, peer-based practice to support rural individuals in developing their own processes for wellbeing.

Roberto Cardarelli, DO, MPH, professor and chief of community medicine in the UK College of Medicine, also presented his research project, the Terminate Lung Cancer study, which aims to understand the knowledge and attitudes of lung cancer screening among high-risk rural populations. Kentucky’s lung cancer mortality rate dramatically exceeds the national lung cancer mortality rate, with 73.2 deaths per 100,000 in Kentucky versus 49.5 nationally. Cardarelli and his team conducted focus groups in order to develop an effective campaign to promote lung cancer screening in the region.

“We like to focus on research that’s important to communities, and we couldn’t find a more important topic than tobacco cessation and lung cancer screening,” he said.

The final presentation of the day addressed drug use and prescription opioid use in Eastern Kentucky. Michele Staton-Tindall, PhD, associate professor in the UK College of Social Work, conducted research in jails to learn about drug use and health-related risk behaviors among rural women in Appalachia. She said that rates of drug use are “alarmingly high” in this area of Appalachia, with many users injecting.

“Injection is the preferred route of administration, which is coupled with increased public health risks including HCV and HIV,” she said.

Solving problems together

The event was supported in part by the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science, which aims to accelerate discoveries that improve human health, with particular focus on the Appalachian region.

For Feltner, a nurse who has worked in rural health for 35 years, Appalachian Research Day represents the best qualities of the place she calls home.

“What I love most about Appalachia is the fellowship we have together, as neighbors and friends, working together to solve problems.”

Weekend of cycling events reflects doctor’s passion for Markey

For Dr. Jonathan Feddock, cycling isn’t just a hobby – it’s a way to save lives.

Dr. Jonathan Feddock

Dr. Jonathan Feddock

Feddock is a radiation oncologist at the UK Markey Cancer Center and also an avid triathlete and cyclist. Two years ago, Feddock combined his passions by competing in the Louisville Ironman competition while simultaneously raising more than $142,000 for patient care and research at Markey.

Ignited by the success of his personal fundraising efforts, Feddock wanted to do even more. Last year, he partnered with Markey to host the Healthiest Weekend in Lexington, a two-day event promoting healthy lifestyles that also raised money for cancer care at UK. The weekend event included the first-ever Survive the Night Triathlon, an overnight team relay covering 140.7 combined miles of swimming, biking and running.

“After seeing the success I had raising money racing in triathlons, a lot of people expressed an interest in helping raise money for Markey in a similar way,” Feddock said.

This year, the Survive the Night Triathlon is back, and Feddock is working with Markey and the Lexington Cancer Foundation to once again support patient care, research and outreach at UK through a weekend of cycling.

Survive the Night begins Friday, June 17, at 7:30 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium on the UK campus. Registration is $500 per team.

Following Survive the Night, the Lexington Cancer Foundation hosts the Roll for the Cure bike event on June 18. Participants can choose the length of their ride: 10, 35, 50 or 95 miles through Kentucky horse farms, or a short Family Fun ride around Commonwealth Stadium. The longer rides will include rest breaks at Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve distilleries. Registration for the longer rides is $75 and the Family Fun ride is $10.

All proceeds from Survive the Night and Roll for the Cure will benefit cancer research and programs at the Markey and the pediatric oncology clinic at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Feddock said participating in either event is an easy way to make a big difference.

“Every single dollar we raise helps,” he said. “By participating in our events, you’ll be making a huge impact on cancer care for women, men and children across Kentucky.”


Next steps:

Dr. Evers highlights Markey’s accomplishments in ‘State of the Cancer Center’ address

Dr. Mark Evers, director of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, gave his annual “State of the Cancer Center” address today at Markey Research Day, highlighting the center’s major accomplishments in patient care, recruitment, research and outreach from the past year.

“Markey is making great strides in both clinical care and research, and we plan to continue that trend moving forward,” Evers said. “Kentucky is still home to the worst cancer rates in the country, and we will continue to expand our reach and provide acute-level cancer care for not just Kentuckians, but patients from neighboring states and even across the country who are seeking services only we can provide.”

Patient care at Markey

Patient growth continued to increase in the past year, with more than 94,000 outpatient visits, a four percent increase over 2015 visits and a 42 percent increase since Evers’ arrival in 2009. In addition, the number of analytic cancer cases seen by Markey doctors has nearly doubled – 49 percent – since 2009.

Markey’s five-year survival rates for lung, brain, prostate, liver and ovarian cancers are higher than the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) Program national average. In particular, Markey’s liver cancer survival rates are outstanding, with a 27 percent five-year-survival rate versus the SEER Program national average of 16 percent.

Cancer research

Cancer funding continues to increase, with Markey bringing in $43 million in funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, and other peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed sources – a $5 million increase in research funding over the previous year.

Under a new partnership with the NCI-designated cancer center at The Ohio State University, Markey will be a phase I and II trial site for OSU’s NCI-sponsored UM1 grant, providing access to new clinical trials for Markey patients. The goal is to develop the most effective dose and schedules for further therapeutic investigation of new anticancer agents that will be tested in late phase clinical trials by the National Clinical Trials Network

In early 2015, the cancer center launched the Markey Cancer Center Research Network (MCCRN), a new initiative conducting high priority cancer research through a network of collaborative centers with expertise in the delivery of cancer care and conduct of research studies. Medical centers participating in the MCCRN will have the opportunity to either conduct appropriate clinical trials for their population on-site or have a quick line of referral to Markey for trial participation.

Currently, the MCCRN has four sites on board, with several more to join over the next year:

  • King’s Daughters Medical Center, Ashland
  • Hardin Memorial Health, Elizabethtown
  • St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Morehead
  • St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center, Huntington, W.Va

Markey’s reach across the state

Though based in Lexington, Markey also strives to provide access to top-notch cancer care across the state and beyond through the Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network (MCCAN). The MCCAN is a group of healthcare facilities that provide high-quality cancer services and programs in their communities with the support and guidance of the UK Markey Cancer Center, allowing patients to receive their care closer to home.

Currently, the MCCAN comprises 16 medical centers across the state of Kentucky:

  • Clark Regional Medical Center, Winchester
  • Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, Danville
  • Frankfort Regional Medical Center, Frankfort
  • Georgetown Community Hospital, Georgetown
  • Hardin Memorial Hospital, Elizabethtown
  • Harlan ARH Hospital, Harlan
  • Harrison Memorial Hospital, Cynthiana
  • Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, Hazard
  • Methodist Hospital, Henderson
  • Norton Cancer Institute, Louisville
  • Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Ashland
  • St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Morehead
  • Rockcastle Regional Hospital, Mt. Vernon
  • The Medical Center at Bowling Green
  • TJ Samson Community Hospital
  • Tug Valley ARH Regional Medical Center, South Williamson

Additionally, evaluations are under way for several other hospitals, further establishing Markey as the destination cancer center for the region.

The future of cancer care in Kentucky

The faculty and staff at Markey have a busy few years ahead of them, as the cancer center prepares to submit its application for an NCI designation as a comprehensive cancer center in 2017. Currently, 45 of the 69 total NCI-designated cancer centers in the country hold a comprehensive cancer center status.

To earn this top level of designation, cancer centers must show a depth and breadth of research in each of three major areas: laboratory, clinical, and population-based research, as well as substantial transdisciplinary research that bridges these scientific areas. Additionally, outreach is especially important, and comprehensive cancer centers must demonstrate professional and public education and outreach capabilities, including the dissemination of clinical and public health advances in the communities it serves.

“Earning a comprehensive cancer center designation from the NCI would be another giant leap forward for Markey,” Evers said. “We’ve already established ourselves as the destination cancer center for the state, and moving forward, we will continue to push to become a leader in cancer clinical care and research across the country.”