CDC sending full-time senior staffer to E. Ky. to help health departments tackle the region’s chronic, serious health problems

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will place a full-time employee in Eastern Kentucky to help public health departments battle the region’s serious, chronic health problems, the area’s congressman said Tuesday.

Republican Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers of Somerset, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, who spent three days with him in his Fifth Congressional District last month, told him he would assign a senior staffer to the job.

Beshear, Rogers (Melissa Newman photo)

Rogers made the announcement at a meeting of the executive committee of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, the economic-development effort he started with Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. In a meeting at Natural Bridge State Resort Park, the panel heard reports from chairs of SOAR’s working groups, which held “listening sessions” around the region this summer.

The Health Working Group “recommended pushing a statewide ban on smoking indoors in public; asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study poor health in the region and the emerging research on a correlation between mountaintop mining and health problems,” Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The working group’s PowerPoint slide said, “Invite the CDC to form a task force to accurately map the current state of health in Eastern Kentucky and to create a strategic health plan for the region; start the ‘Healthy 5 for the 5th’ campaign for individual health in an effort to promote wellness in the region; explore Coordinated School Health programs for our entire region; ramp up oral-health efforts to encourage school-based oral health services are underway in every school district in the region.”

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