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SOAR meeting at MSU Aug. 6

Community news | Tuesday, July 29, 2014

MOREHEAD — St. Claire Regional Medical Center and Morehead State University will present Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers as part of a "Health Impact Series" under the new Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative.

The event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Morehead Conference Center, 111 E. First St., in Morehead. This will be the fourth in a series of public events in eastern Kentucky.

Frieden and his team from the CDC will discuss the high rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity in the region.

“While the diagnosis of illnesses like cancer and diabetes are heartbreaking, we know that hope is abundant. We've made great strides in awareness and prevention, but I am eager to hear Dr. Frieden’s prescription for eastern Kentucky and what we can do to help save lives and improve healthy living,” said Rogers.

“Dr. Frieden not only plans to share information with us, but wants to hear what medical professionals and health coalition leaders are already doing to change lives. This is our chance to speak directly to an international leader in health care about the long-time health disparities in our small corner of the world.”

According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the prevalence of heart disease is 84 percent higher, diabetes is 47 percent higher and obesity is 26 percent higher in Kentucky's Appalachian region compared to the United States. From 2006-10, the region’s lung cancer mortality rates were also the highest in the nation, 67 percent higher than the national average.

Kentucky also has the third highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States, an issue that Rogers and Frieden have worked together to combat during Operation UNITE's National Rx Drug Abuse Summits each year. Rogers and Frieden are teaming up once again for the SOAR Health Impact Series to find solutions and celebrate local champions for awareness and prevention of the region’s other major health challenges.

“Partnering with state and local health organizations and officials, such as the SOAR initiative and U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, helps the CDC to quickly and effectively respond to health threats,” said Frieden. “In working to improve health, we are all in this together. The more effectively we are connected, the more effectively we can address these opportunities. This visit to Kentucky is an important step.”

Along with Frieden will be Dr. Judith Monroe, the deputy director of the CDC who has Kentucky roots. Both of her parents were born and raised in Lawrenceburg. She first practiced medicine in the Appalachian region and plans to share her insight during the three-day tour.

The “Health Impact Series” is part of the SOAR initiative launched by Congressman Rogers and Gov. Steve Beshear. The SOAR Health working group is tasked with finding solutions to health problems in the region. The group’s chairwoman, Dr. Nikki Stone, who is the Mobile Dental Outreach director for the UK North Fork Valley Community Dental Outreach Program in Hazard, will serve as a moderator of several panels during the events with the CDC.

All events are free to the public, but registration is recommended to reserve meal service. To make a reservation, contact Cheryl Keaton at or (606) 657-3218.