Psychologist uses his own life lessons – including a failed suicide attempt – to help others thinking about taking their own lives

After someone commits suicide, family members and friends are left to wonder why. They reconstruct recent events and interactions, trying to recall any signs that their loved one was contemplating taking their own life.

Insider Louisville Logo“The biggest feeling is guilt for not seeing it,” Dr. Josh Smith, a licensed clinical psychologist, says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “Even when the individual does not show any discernible signs you feel like there is something that you missed.”

During National Suicide Awareness Month this month, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) encourages everyone to share resources and stories in an effort to simply talk about the highly stigmatized topic.

In Kentucky, suicide is on the rise, with 776 deaths occurring in 2017. There were 584 deaths by suicide in Jefferson County between 2011 and 2015.

To help tackle this issue, the Louisville Health Advisory Board is holding free suicide prevention training at 85 locations around Jefferson County from Sept. 9 through 15 in association with National Suicide Prevention Week. The 90-minute “Question. Persuade. Refer.” (QPR) sessions are designed to teach people how to respond to someone in crisis and are taught much like CPR. The goal of the training is to educate people on how to talk with someone who might be at risk. To learn more and see a complete list of the times and locations, please go online to qprlou.com.

To hear more from Dr. Smith, including his very personal stories about suicide, please click here.

 

Charla Young’s “Power to Exhale” group brings Empowerment Tour around Kentucky during the month of September

Power to Exhale, a global women’s empowerment organization headquartered in Louisville, is bringing its empowerment tour to the state of Kentucky.

Sponsored by Passport, the Power to Exhale tour will partner with community, education, and entertainment providers in various communities around the Commonwealth.

“This will be an RV empowerment tour rolling from city to city to give people in the community everything from information on controlling their blood pressure to a road map on how to live your best life,” said Power to Exhale Founder Charla Young. “We will also stop to build a Habitat for Humanity Home, volunteer at Dare to Care of Louisville and stand proudly on the platform of empowerment as we march through a community parade. This RV Tour will be All Things Empowerment.”

The RV Tour kicks off Saturday, September 1, at the Big Four Bridge in Downtown Louisville, where more than 200 Power to Exhale members will gather to walk with a platform solidarity, sisterhood and service. Other stops will include Lexington, Bowling Green, Radcliff/Elizabethtown, and Covington. Every stop is free and open to the public.

To see the full list of stops, please click here.

For more information, please contact Charla Young at exhalequestions@gmail.com or by calling (502) 938-9454, or go online to powertoexhale.org.

 

Attorney General seeks help to create a logo for Kentucky’s Human Trafficking Task Force

Part of combating human trafficking around Kentucky is helping residents understand how to identify trafficking victims and report the crime, according to Attorney General Andy Beshear. As part of this educational effort, his office is launching an initiative with state and local partners to help raise awareness of human trafficking – whose victims, according to Beshear, are often the most vulnerable in Kentucky’s communities. The initiative calls on high school juniors and seniors, and all college students to create a logo for Kentucky’s Human Trafficking Task Force, which Beshear’s office and Catholic Charities of Louisville co-chair.

“Human trafficking is a growing and gruesome crime in the Commonwealth and in order to combat it, we need the help of every community to recognize what it is and to report it,” Beshear said. “Our logo initiative not only engages young adults to help us further promote awareness through our task force, but also teaches them that victims of human trafficking are often the most vulnerable in our communities – victims of abuse and violence, runaways, refugees, immigrants or those who are homeless.”

Amy Nace-DeGonda, with Catholic Charities of Louisville, said the purpose of the logo is to support the anti-human trafficking movement in Kentucky.

“Both adults and children can be coerced into sex or labor trafficking and awareness of this is key,” Nace-DeGonda said. “With raised awareness of what trafficking is, the indicators of trafficking, prevention can occur as well as those who have been trafficked can reach needed services. I appreciate this effort being done throughout the state.”

In promoting the logo initiative, the attorney general’s office and Catholic Charities of Louisville are joined by Free2Hope, Women of the Well Ministries, the Kristy Love Foundation, and the University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work.

The deadline to submit a logo is Oct. 8. For more details go to www.ag.ky.gov.

Beshear said it is the law to report any suspected case of child trafficking, and that everyone has a role to play in preventing human trafficking:

  • If a human trafficking victim is in immediate danger, dial 911.
  • To report suspected human trafficking of a child, call 877-KYSAFE1 (877-597-2331).
  • Victims of human trafficking may also call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888 or text BEFREE. Interpreters are available.

 

Look for Passport at These Events Around South-Central Kentucky

Passport members and community advocates around south-central Kentucky have a number of upcoming opportunities to come out and see your Passport Community Engagement Representative.

Passport will able to answer questions you might have about Kentucky HEALTH, your Passport benefits, and more. We will have representation at the following events:

  • Thursday, August 9 – Monticello Elementary Back to School Event
  • Friday, August 17 – St. John’s Health Day in Edmonson County
  • Monday, August 20 – Metcalfe County Back to School Social
  • Wednesday, October 10 – First Annual Reentry Expo in Bowling Green

If you have any questions, please contact Priscilla Schwartz via email at Priscilla.Schwartz@passporthealthplan.com.

 

Passport Donates $25,000 to Kentucky State Police Foundation for Troopers to Have Fentanyl Protection Gear

From left: KSP Foundation Director Tom Rogers, Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley, KSP Commissioner Rick Sanders, and Passport COO Carl Felix.

Passport Health Plan has provided a $25,000 grant to the Kentucky State Police Foundation, which will be used to purchase fentanyl response kits that will help KSP troopers avoid contact with dangerous drugs.

The kits include Tyvek suits, respirator masks, fentanyl protective gloves, safety glasses, and a portable gear bag. Grainger Inc. is supplying the gear, which will be issued to all sworn units through the KSP Supply Branch.

“At Passport Health Plan, our mission is to improve the health and quality of life of all Kentuckians,” says Passport Chief Operating Officer Carl Felix. “We’re proud to be standing today with the Kentucky State Police to offer this extra layer of protection in their battle against drug trafficking and abuse.”

KSP Commissioner Rick Sanders said the addition of the suits will have an immediate impact on officer safety.

“Our troopers and officers come into contact with fentanyl on daily basis,” says Sanders. “Whether they are responding to a traffic stop, apprehending suspects or responding to overdose calls – just touching fentanyl or accidently inhaling it during enforcement activity can result in absorption through the skin causing immediate and dangerous health effects.”

Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley, who has testified to Congress on the opioid crisis in Kentucky, commended Passport Health Plan for their forward thinking and their wellness outreach.

“KSP is on the front lines of the most lethal drug epidemic in history, and it’s creating extreme risks for our troopers and officers,” Tilley says. “These kits will not only save lives among the ranks of KSP, they will save the lives of many Kentuckians by helping get these deadly drugs off the street.”

“When budgets are stretched tight, it will take partnerships like these to truly impact the opioid crisis,” notes KSP Foundation Director Tom Rogers. “Our key mission is to support the men and women of the KSP and this project is yet another way we can pool resources that will directly impact these troopers and officers in the field.”

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as an analgesic (pain relief) and anesthetic. It is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic.

Click here to see the video of the check presentation. Click here to read more about the kits and what they will be used for.

 

Task Force Streamlines Human Trafficking Notification Process to Better Assist Victims, Investigations

Attorney General Andy Beshear and Catholic Charities of Louisville recently released the 2017 Human Trafficking Task Force Reportthat focuses on Kentucky’s coordinated efforts to fight human trafficking.

The report highlights Kentucky’s new streamlined notification process that better assists in investigations and follow-up victim services for reported cases of human trafficking across the state.

The changes allow for a quicker response to incidents of suspected human trafficking in Kentucky and is one of numerous efforts outlined in the annual report of the Kentucky Human Trafficking Task Force, of which Passport Health Plan is a member.

The report is the first overall look at the state’s coordinated efforts to fight human trafficking since Beshear’s office and Catholic Charities of Louisville, co-chairs of the task force, received a federal grant in 2016. The grant was the first from the U.S Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance and Office of Victims of Crime ever awarded to a Kentucky agency for human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a growing and gruesome crime in the Commonwealth,” Beshear said in a news release. “In order to combat it, we needed to streamline the information sharing protocols between our federal, state and local task force members to more efficiently respond to reports of human trafficking. Now, law enforcement can immediately investigate and advocates can immediately offer victim services.”

 

‘Pet therapy’ Can Help Many People Through the Healing Process, No Matter the Challenges

Insider Louisville LogoFor many hospital patients and residents of assisted-living facilities, medicine is not always what’s needed most. Sometimes, they just need something to smile about. And that’s where animal-assisted therapy can be a real benefit.

Animal-assisted therapy, also known as pet therapy, is recognized by those in the medical profession as a “growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Linda Laun saw the benefits of pet therapy first-hand when she was a little girl and her ailing grandmother snuck out of the hospital to see her dog, Patsy, in the parking lot. She said that even though her grandmother was in great pain, her face lit up at the sight of her dog.

“When she was interacting with Patsy, she had a tiny piece of tranquility. It made a huge difference in her life,” Laun said in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “I recognized the impact dogs can have on people. When I had time, I got more involved and started a therapy program.”

Today, Laun heads Wonderful Animals Giving Support (WAGS) Pet Therapy of Kentucky, Inc., which utilizes the human-animal bond to bring smiles to the faces of those who are mentally, physically or emotionally challenged. To hear more from Laun, please click here. For more information about pet therapy, please click here.

Kentucky and Jefferson County Health Officials Encourage All Residents to Get Hepatitis A Vaccine

Because of the recent Hepatitis A outbreak, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is recommending everyone residing in Jefferson, Bullitt, Hardin, Greenup, Carter and Boyd counties get vaccinated.

So far this year, 214 cases have been reported in the Jefferson County/Louisville area – the county usually has 1-3 cases per year. Meanwhile, Bullitt, Hardin, Greenup, Carter and Boyd counties have each reported 5 or more cases, for a total 311 cases associated with the outbreak. One death has been reported.

“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable illness,” Dr. Jeffrey Howard, acting DPH commissioner, said in a news release. “DPH recommends all children, ages 1 year through 18, receive the Hepatitis A vaccine, as well as adults who want to protect themselves from an acute hepatitis A infection. In these counties with local transmission of the hepatitis A virus, we recommend everyone be vaccinated per guidelines to help stop this outbreak.”

Dr. Sarah Moyer, Director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness, is also encouraging all residents to take action.

“I am asking you to help us as we encourage everyone in our city to protect themselves and others by 1) practicing good hand washing and 2) getting vaccinated,” she said, adding that a person with hepatitis A can be contagious for up to two weeks before they ever show signs or symptoms of illness.

Since 2006, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended children receive the hepatitis A vaccine series. Effective July 1, 2018, all Kentucky students in kindergarten through 12th grade must receive two doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine to attend school or receive a provisional certificate of immunization, unless their parents claim an exemption.

Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), dark-colored urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and fever.

The disease often is transmitted when people do not wash their hands properly or do not have access to proper sanitation. Along with the vaccination, DPH recommends adults and children wash their hands often – particularly after using the restroom or before consuming food. Hand sanitizer should be used only when soap and water is unavailable.

The hepatitis A vaccine does not contain a live virus and is extremely effective, Dr. Moyer said. The vaccine is available at healthcare providers (check with your doctor), at Kroger pharmacies and Little Clinics, and at pharmacies like Walgreens and Rite Aid. People are encouraged to call ahead to ensure that the provider has the vaccine and that there is no cost as long as the person has health insurance. Those who do not have insurance can go online to https://louisvilleky.gov/government/health-wellness/hepatitis for locations offering the vaccine.

 

State Announces Roll Out Plan for all Counties’ PATH Requirements Under Kentucky HEALTH

Recently, the ​Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services (DMS) started to notify Medicaid members who will be affected by Kentucky HEALTH and live in Northern Kentucky that they may need to complete 80 hours of PATH/Community Engagement activities each month to use their medical benefits, effective July 1.

In a follow-up, they have announced how the rollout will continue for all additional counties around the Commonwealth. As you can see in this map, the rest of the state will start their PATH activities on either October 1, November 1, or December 1, depending on what Workforce Investment Board (WIB) region they are in. (Note: Residents of the eight counties in Southeast Kentucky that are not shaded will not be required to complete PATH activities at this time.)

PATH, which stands for “Partnering to Advance Training and Health,” is the component of Kentucky HEALTH where some members need to participate in activities to keep their medical benefits. These activities can include looking for a job, volunteering, caregiving for an elderly family member, job training, participating in substance abuse treatment, enrolling in classes, or working, according to kentuckyhealth.ky.gov.

People enrolled in Kentucky HEALTH who have a PATH requirement will get more information 90 days before they are required to start reporting their PATH hours at www.citizenconnect.ky.gov.