Saturday, February 23, 2013

Nursing facility lawsuit bill lands in Senate

Extendicare's exit could minimize impact locally
By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer 
State Republicans are trying to reduce the number of “frivolous” lawsuits against nursing homes. They want panels to review all complaints before they reach the court system.

Bills like this have failed in years past. It’s one of the reasons Extendicare Health Services Inc., a company that owns two local nursing homes, shed management responsibilities last year for all 21 of its facilities in Kentucky.

Without Extendicare around, the volume of local nursing-home lawsuits appears to be shrinking.

And in recent years, nearly all the local cases that have been closed were dismissed via settlements, not by judges declaring them unfounded. This may suggest the bill would affect Christian County minimally.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Public transit - a rural model

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the top factors for making a city walkable, and I said one of those was accessibility. As the transportation engineer Peter Lagerwey explained, this goes beyond having space for walking. It means having good walking routes that take you to your destinations.

You know what improves access? Public transit. With an expansive bus or rail system, residents don't have to choose between walking and driving; they can essentially combine the two and still leave their cars at home.

Christian County's only bus system is the one Pennyrile Allied Community Services uses for services funded by Medicaid. But it's possible that Mayor Dan Kemp will allocate money for new buses in his 2013-14 budget proposal. A poll showed thousands of people would use buses if this town had more for the general public.

If you haven't filled out the state's transportation survey, you should do so now. Tell the state whether or not it should allocate money for public transit.

Regardless of your views, take a look at VelociRFTA, a rapid transit system being built in Colorado. It will run 39 miles along the state's most congested highway. As the DC Streetsblog reports, when it opens in September, it will be the first bus rapid transit system in the U.S. to serve a rural area. At $40 million, this kind of project likely falls beyond Kentucky's price range. But it might spark some inspiration.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

From A to B

Rail-trail could reduce dependency on cars
By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
Some winter days, Jane Hall, 83, puts on long johns and a sweater and two coats before going out. Ignoring the wind, she walks to the grocery store, Dollar General, her bank or her doctor’s office.
Hall walks everywhere. Her habits were forged in the 1930s and ‘40s, in rural parts of the county, when the roads were dirt and mule-driven wagons were common.
Hopkinsville has sped up around her. Now most streets are paved, have high speed limits and are mainly for automobiles. She admits her routes are unsafe, as they lack sidewalks, but she never learned to drive.
“People just too lazy to walk,” she said in her living room. “They’d drive their cars to the mailbox if they could.”
But like most people, she takes infrastructure for granted.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Diabetes classes will be offered in Elkton, Cadiz

By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
Many of the 18,600 or so Pennyrile residents living with diabetes have no access to classes on diet, blood sugar and disease-management techniques, a local dietitian said.
Theresa Clark, who owns the Diabetes Resource Center of Hopkinsville, drives all over Western Kentucky to give diabetics counseling and classes. But this area, squarely inside what a federal agency calls the “diabetes belt,” needs more help, she said.
Now Clark’s clinic is one of just 10 organizations in the U.S. to get a grant for educating more diabetics.
She’ll soon launch free satellite classes in Elkton, Cadiz and Central City. They’ll be in community centers, like libraries or senior-citizen centers.
“You know, a lot of people don’t have the financial ability to come all the way to Hopkinsville,” she said.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pharmacies carry burden to stop meth producers

By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
Now that Kentucky is limiting the amount of pseudoephedrine customers can buy in any given month or year, methamphetamine cooks may try recruiting accomplices to buy them in batches, as they have in other states.
At Cayce’s Pharmacy, customers the workers don’t recognize have sometimes entered the store, about five minutes apart, each wanting cold medicine, Owner Mike Cayce said.
Workers have usually caught on quickly enough, Cayce said.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Health dept. could bankroll rail-trail

Director urges board to OK spending $100,000 on project
By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
The director of the Christian County Health Department wants to give $100,000 from the reserve fund to Hopkinsville’s rail-trail project.
But most members of the Board of Health fear the health department can’t afford it.
They need to save enough for a “rainy day,” said Dr. Wade Northington, the board’s new chairman. Several board members noted the budget shortfall in this fiscal year, financial troubles with the school nurse program and ongoing delays in Medicaid reimbursement.
The reserve fund has nearly $2.4 million.
Some $650,000 of that will go into the general fund by this summer, but more will come in too, Health Department Director Mark Pyle said.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

New health care law pressures hospitals, doctors

By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
Changes in insurance reimbursements are putting serious pressure on hospitals and doctors alike — but different kinds for each, said Eric Lee, president of Jennie Stuart Medical Center, in a presentation Thursday evening.
For Jennie Stuart, much of the pressure is competitive.
At one time it only competed with other nearby hospitals, like those in Madisonville and Clarksville, for patients. But on account of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it now competes with all the nation’s hospitals in quality measurements. If it ranks highly enough, its Medicare reimbursements don’t get docked, Lee said.