PIKEVILLE – The University of Louisville and KentuckyOne Health are delivering on their promise of working to make Kentucky a healthier place through a new partnership with Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR).
UofL and KentuckyOne Health have agreed to become presenting partners of SOAR, providing more than $300,000 in support over the next three years.
SOAR was established in 2013 by Gov. Steve Beshear and Rep. Hal Rogers and is designed to marshal the collective talents and energies of eastern Kentucky communities and citizens to address the most significant challenges confronting Appalachian Kentucky.
“At the University of Louisville, we have a public mandate to improve the lives of the people of Kentucky,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “Working with SOAR is a significant opportunity for us to partner with others throughout the state to achieve that mandate in a region of the Commonwealth that needs the most assistance.”
“We look forward to working with Gov. Beshear, Rep. Rogers and all who are associated with SOAR as we explore how best to meet the challenges of the region in terms of health, economics and general well-being,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., UofL executive vice president for health affairs. “We have worked with leaders in the region on individual projects to alleviate some of the immediate needs, especially in health care. But this is an opportunity to provide lasting solutions.”
“KentuckyOne Health facilities, physicians and care providers have a deep history serving the Appalachian region. Through our hospitals and clinics in Martin, Berea, Mount Sterling and London we are closely tied to the unique health challenges and barriers to care,” said Ruth Brinkley, president and CEO of KentuckyOne Health. “Through our relationship with UofL, now by partnering together with SOAR, we will expand our collaboration with Appalachian communities, utilizing the breadth of our patient services, wellness programs and community resources to truly make a difference.”
UofL and KentuckyOne Health entered into a partnership in 2012 with the mission of creating a healthier population and attacking some of the chronic health problems faced by the citizens of Kentucky. Together they are the largest health system in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
“If we are to begin to resolve the health issues that the people of the Commonwealth face, everyone must work together,” Beshear said. “It is gratifying to see that two organizations with the stated purpose of improving the lives of people in Kentucky are taking leadership roles in the development of these critical partnerships.”
UofL and KentuckyOne Health already have significant efforts underway in the region. UofL for years has worked with Dataseam to utilize downtime on computers in schools in the region to create a supercomputer grid to speed the design process of potential anti-cancer drugs, while at the same time bringing those computers to the schools. Additionally, UofL has been very active in Remote Area Medicine programs in the region. These programs bring health care providers to underserved areas for large-scale clinics so people are able to receive care not otherwise available. Through the utilization of telemedicine, UofL neurologists have for years been assisting rural physicians with the diagnosis and treatment of strokes. UofL pediatricians are situated throughout the state, helping to fill the gaps in underserved areas.
For nearly 20 years, KentuckyOne Health facilities in Appalachia and surrounding communities have led a community-based program to provide home visits for patients following hospital discharge. Today, the Appalachian Outreach program covers 15 counties in eastern Kentucky, making contacts with more than 12,000 individuals each year. This regionally focused program provides a range of wellness support to help patients, caregivers and their families better understand their health and better manage their ongoing health and well-being.
Targeting health conditions with greatest prevalence in the region, KentuckyOne Health’s Saint Joseph Martin provides focused programs to fight prominent health conditions, notably cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Community programs include smoking prevention and cessation initiatives with local schools, a diabetes management program with Floyd County Health Department and community health fairs to check for heart disease risk factors.
“For years, both of these organizations have been supporting efforts to improve the lives of people in the region,” Rogers said. “Having them join with us so that we can hopefully multiply their individual efforts will only make the region stronger in the future.