Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Several meningitis cases in Pennyrile

Illness traced to epidural steroid injection
By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
The state has five confirmed reports of fungal meningitis in Kentucky, and three or four evidently occurred in the southern Pennyrile.
An epidural steroid injection from Massachusetts is apparently causing the statewide outbreak, and though no facilities in Kentucky have received it, a major Nashville clinic — the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center — did use the injection.
All five Kentuckians who contracted the illness received medical care in Tennessee, the state reported. Facilities in Crossville and Knoxville, Tenn., also used the injection, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Treating dementia requires facilities

Sen. Pendleton says he’ll lobby for expansion of Western State
Part two in a two-part series
By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
Twenty miles north of Louisville, in Charlestown, Ind., the small St. Catherine Regional Hospital has a 26-bed facility for elderly patients who have mental problems.
The way a nurse describes it, the facility sounds like a far cry from a lush independent living center. But families, nursing homes and hospitals in Kentucky — including Western Kentucky — would be in worse trouble without it.
Often its patients have worked on farms or in auto shops or maintenance departments for years, said Amelia Johns, a St. Catherine nurse.
When dementia short-circuits their mental faculties, their bodies remain strong and even anxious. They can hardly sit still. Sometimes they tear out sinks, and one patient dismantled his entire bed.
“How he even took it apart with his bare hands is beyond me, but he did,” Johns said. “They’re pretty destructive sometimes.”

Friday, October 12, 2012

QuickInfo: Defining dementia

“Dementia” refers to several diseases that result in memory loss, mood changes and communication problems, according to literature from the Alzheimer’s Association. But they all consist of destruction of brain tissue, said Dr. Susan Vaught, director of psychology at Western State Hospital.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form. It results from protein “plaques” and “tangles” developing in the brain’s structure and killing off brain cells, the Alzheimer’s Society reports.
Usually it affects the newest memories first, Vaught said. This may explain why Tommy Hunt didn’t understand his father was dead.

Dementia: Falling through the cracks

Western Kentucky lacks resources for patients with most severe cases
Part one of a two-part series
By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
Roughly eight years ago, Stephanie Gamblin was driving her father to the coal mine where he had worked for 20 years. She asked him to navigate.
It unsettled her when Hunt said he didn’t know the route.
The family had noticed other signs of his memory decaying. Though he’d always been a handyman, for instance, it seemed to take him forever to finish tiling a cabinet for Brenda Hunt, his wife and Gamblin’s mother.
A doctor’s visit confirmed their fear: He had Alzheimer’s disease.
He stayed at home until 2010, when the family decided he needed full-time nursing care and sent him to Tradewater Health and Rehabilitation Center. Its location was ideal — a short drive for Brenda Hunt — but it soon seemed Tradewater was ill-equipped for dealing with his illness.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Event provides women chance to put themselves 1st

By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
All adult women should see a doctor once a year for a physical and — for most — a pelvic examination and a clinical breast examination, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports.
But in a county where about 18 percent of residents don’t have health insurance and many more have bare-bones coverage, the medical community knows much of the public can’t follow these guidelines.
It’s the reason Helen Cayce, an advanced registered nurse practitioner, is organizing a women’s health show this week for the 12th year in a row.
“Women just don’t take care of themselves,” Cayce said. “They always take care of their family first.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Postponing tests gave cancer time to spread

For the KNE's special fall section on health
By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
Karen Wheeler can’t remember what scheduling conflict made her postpone her annual doctor’s visit in March 2008 — though it seemed important at the time.
The next slot her doctor, Elizabeth Toms, had open was at the end of June. When it came around, Wheeler told Toms about a lump she’d noticed on her breast just before she’d postponed the office visit.
A mammogram showed she had cancer. Toms told Wheeler to get a lymph node biopsy.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Risk of flu varies by job, condition, age

Teachers, day care staff, others, urged to get shot
By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
Though the traditional flu season doesn’t begin until October, four of the 18 or so staff members at Kidz Academy are already sick, said the director, Eva Akpom.
Between all the hugging and cleaning they do, and the kids’ sneezing and coughing, the staff members have more exposure to germs than most of the public, Akpom said.
Many local businesses — including Kroger, Walgreen’s and even, from 9:30 this morning to 5:30 tonight, Cash Express — in addition to the medical offices — are now offering the influenza vaccine.
Health officials say everyone should get immunized. A shot from last year isn’t good enough, as there are now two new flu strains circulating, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But some groups, such as people who work with children all day, stand especially high risks of infection if they don’t get shots.