Get Ahead of Hepatitis C

Get Ahead of Hepatitis C

Curing hepatitis C — a virus that attacks the liver — is possible. Screening is vital for identifying the disease early when damage can be reversed and before the organ has paid a heavy price.

Hepatitis C is contagious and spreads through contact with the blood of an infected individual. About one in five cases of hepatitis C infection is cleared naturally by the body; however, the remaining cases develop into chronic hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis C infection causes inflammation in the liver that can lead to scarring and even organ failure if left untreated.

“Often, there aren’t symptoms with hepatitis C,” said Jenny Harkins, manager of the Hepatitis C Clinic and GI Motility Clinic at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health. “Individuals who have the virus may not realize it for decades. Then, one day, a routine laboratory exam will show elevated liver enzymes. The best way to know if you’ve been exposed is to test the virus directly using an antibody test, because not everyone will have elevated liver enzymes.”

By the time symptoms appear, hepatitis C may have already reached an advanced stage.


A Big Burden for Kentucky


The ability of hepatitis C to exist in the body for years without detection makes estimating the disease’s prevalence difficult for public health officials. One thing is clear: The virus is a major concern in Kentucky, where the rate of new infections is twice the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two groups seem to be most vulnerable to hepatitis C: younger adults and baby boomers.

From 2008 to 2015, no state had a higher rate of new hepatitis C infections than Kentucky, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s State Health Assessment Report, 2017 Update. In 2015, individuals 25–34 years old accounted for the largest proportion of new infections — 40 percent. The high rate of hepatitis C infection in Kentucky is closely related to the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic, as sharing needles to inject heroin and painkillers increases individuals’ risk for contracting the virus.

For baby boomers, many cases of hepatitis C are likely traceable to health care services they received decades ago rather than to present-day substance abuse, according to Harkins.

“Baby boomers appear to be most at risk for having hepatitis C without knowing it,” Harkins said. “We think many of their infections occurred as a result of medical and dental procedures they had 30 to 40 years ago, when sanitation and sterilization protocols were less strict than they are today.

“Back then, it was common for providers to use the same equipment with multiple patients,” she continued. “Hepatitis C can be difficult to kill without proper sanitation procedures. Nowadays, medical equipment is either single-use or is sterilized after every patient encounter using a high-heat, high-pressure machine called an autoclave, which prevents infection.”


The Power of Screening


The CDC recommends individuals born between 1945 and 1965 get tested for hepatitis C, which providers can do using blood tests; the most common is the hepatitis C antibody test. Many patients diagnosed with the virus have reason to hope. An average of 12 weeks of oral medication therapy is enough to clear hepatitis C from the body, according to Harkins.

“Some think there is only one medication to treat hepatitis C, when in fact, there are 12 approved by the Food and Drug Administration,” Harkins said. “Treatment is typically easy. Since 2013, we’ve had effective, gentle medications that patients take for 8 to 12 weeks, sometimes up to 24 weeks, and they have cure rates as high as 100 percent in some cases. If you know you have hepatitis C, we can treat it, but you won’t know you have the virus unless you get screened.”


Your Destination for Treatment


If you have been diagnosed but aren’t receiving treatment, the Hepatitis C Clinic at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, can help. The Hepatitis C Clinic offers liver assessments and antiviral therapy.

“We want to ensure everyone has access to treatment for hepatitis C and, ultimately, cure them,” said Harkins. “Getting rid of the virus doesn’t just benefit the liver. It also reduces patients’ chances of developing other issues, such as insulin resistance, kidney disease and overall all-cause mortality.”

KentuckyOne Health also plans to open a Hepatitis C Clinic in Lexington at Saint Joseph East, part of KentuckyOne Health, in the future.

To schedule an appointment at the Hepatitis C Clinic at Jewish Hospital, call 844.258.6211. A referral from your primary care physician may be required.

Testing for hepatitis C requires only a simple finger stick similar to checking your blood sugar.

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Summer edition of One Health magazine. For more health and wellness stories, sign up for your free subscription today.

Herbal Supplements and Your Liver

Herbal Supplements and Your Liver

Herbal Supplements and Your Liver

While alcohol use can harm the liver — the organ that cleanses blood and fights infection — so can overusing certain herbal supplements and medications.

Typically, herbal supplements do not cause problems when used, especially if the person taking them isn’t on prescription medication. However, there are cases in which supplements do not mix well with medications and can lead to liver damage.

When listing your current medications for a medical provider or pharmacist, make sure you mention any herbal supplements you take. This helps your doctor avoid possible toxic interactions, said June Yong, MD, board-certified gastroenterologist and internal medicine provider with KentuckyOne Health Gastroenterology Associates.

“Herbal supplements can change the way your body metabolizes medications,” Dr. Yong said. “When this occurs, the medication may stay longer in the body than intended and build up a higher concentration of the drug. Both are dangerous to your health.”

Signs that herbal supplements are interacting negatively with medications in ways that could potentially harm your liver include:

  • Yellowing eyes or fingertips
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Dark yellow urine

“Extreme confusion is a sign of liver failure,” Dr. Yong said. “If you or a family member notice confusion coupled with debilitating fatigue, go immediately to the emergency room for care.”


Teaming Up for Liver Care


Patients with symptoms of liver failure undergo liver function tests to confirm or rule out this diagnosis. Those with elevated numbers can be referred to the liver transplant program at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, and placed on appropriate medications. During this time, patients are given intravenous fluids and monitored carefully for appropriate oxygenation levels and normal bowel movements, since constipation can result in toxin buildup.

“If the liver doesn’t recover, we determine next steps, including candidacy for liver transplantation,” said Laura Smart, MD, transplant hepatologist and medical director for the liver transplant program at Jewish Hospital.

Talk with your primary care physician about the use of herbal supplements.


When Transplant Is Needed


An established program for almost two decades now, the Liver Transplant Program at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, was the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

“This robust program connects 50 patients per year with lifesaving liver transplants as soon as they become available, sometimes in as few as two days,” said Dr. Smart.

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Summer edition of One Health magazine. Receive more health and wellness news and information by signing up for your free subscription to One Health.

Need Orthopedic Care? Go East

Need Orthopedic Care? Go East

Kentuckiana has a new home for musculoskeletal medicine: the “Ortho Hub” at Medical Center Jewish East, part of KentuckyOne Health.

Staffed by four full-time orthopedic surgeons, a physician assistant and two advanced practice registered nurses, the Ortho Hub is the region’s one-stop destination for bone and muscle care.

Dr. Kevin Harreld, Orthopedic Surgeon“Patients can have an office consultation, diagnostic imaging, surgery, postoperative care and their follow-up all in one beautiful, convenient facility,” said Kevin Harreld, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Medical Center Jewish East. “We can accommodate patients for same- and next-day appointments, as well as walk-ins.”


Everything From Shoulders to Toes


The Ortho Hub team cares for conditions affecting all areas of the musculoskeletal system, with special expertise in shoulder and elbow disorders as well as sports medicine. The orthopedic surgeons take a conservative approach to care that begins with nonsurgical treatments. If surgery is required, patients are in good hands.

“At the medical center, we have unbelievable nurses at patients’ bedsides and in the operating room,” Dr. Harreld said. “Our anesthesia providers offer the most up-to-date, ultrasound-guided nerve blocks to ease postoperative pain and expedite recovery. If patients need surgery, there’s no better place than Medical Center Jewish East.”

Big things are in store for the Ortho Hub’s future. Orthopedists are developing an outpatient joint replacement program that will feature total and partial knee replacements as well as bone-preserving total shoulder replacement. The program will offer patients a path back to the activities they love — a path back to themselves — free from the pain of arthritis.


Meet the Team


The staff of the Ortho Hub at Medical Center Jewish East, part of KentuckyOne Health, includes:

Convenience is a hallmark of the Ortho Hub at Medical Center Jewish East, part of KentuckyOne Health. Orthopedic surgeons and other providers on the team coordinate with a network of rehabilitation locations throughout Kentuckiana, allowing patients to have physical and occupational therapy close to where they live, work and play.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of One Health magazine. Receive more health and wellness news and information by signing up for your free subscription to One Health.

Looking Out for Your Teen’s Mental Well-being

Make Your Teen's Mental Health a Priority

Make Your Teen's Mental Health a Priority

One in every five American teenagers and young adults lives with a behavioral health condition. How can you help your child?

Discussing mental health with children might seem intimidating — teenagers may be reluctant to talk about what’s bothering them and finding the right words can be difficult. However, it’s something families owe to themselves to focus on. The incidence of behavioral health concerns among teenagers is on the rise, and parents have the power to help.

“We’ve seen a huge spike in the rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers,” said Eric Gross, LPCC, director of clinical services at Our Lady of Peace, part of KentuckyOne Health. “Even more alarming is that self-injury is also on the rise. There’s a clear need for more open conversation about these topics so we can better understand the problem and get teens the help they need.”


Know the Signs


Many factors contribute to the increase in teens dealing with mental health issues, including bullying and self-esteem problems. The internet also plays a major role, as constant use of social media decreases face-to-face interaction and increases isolation.

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common behavioral health concerns in teens.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Frequent irritability or tiredness
  • Drop in school performance or time spent with friends
  • Constant sadness
  • Frequent trips to the school nurse’s office
  • Changes in sleep or eating routines

Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Restlessness and difficulty falling asleep
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Excessive worrying or immediately jumping to the worst possible conclusion about situations

Download our Anxiety in Children and Teens Fact Sheet.

“Parents should watch for things like changes in academic performance, withdrawing from family or peer groups, and isolation,” said Heather Goodman, manager of assessment and referral services at Our Lady of Peace in Lexington, part of KentuckyOne Health. “As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. If you see an overall change in personality, that’s a legitimate concern.”


Seek Help and Find Hope


One of the first — and best — things that a parent can do to help is create an environment where their child feels like they can safely open up about issues they’re facing.

It’s normal for everyone to experience some shifts in mood, especially if something traumatic occurs, such as the loss of an elderly relative. But if a situation doesn’t seem like it’s improving and is affecting your teen’s overall functioning, it may be time to seek professional help. This could be through a mental health referral from a pediatrician or scheduling an appointment with the school counselor.

“Encourage children to open up and tell them that both you and the professional are there to help them,” Goodman said. “Therapy is a safe, judgment-free place for them to talk about their concerns.”

Being there for children involves giving them opportunities to talk and listen. Encourage young people to do both. Together with their physician and therapist, you can find a solution.


Silently Social


One of the biggest factors contributing to teens’ isolation today is the immense popularity of social media, notes Gross.

“Teens socialize through social media, and that’s not really what they need,” Gross said. “They’re missing out on that face-to-face connection.”

Gross advocates for taking regular social media breaks. Encourage teens to spend time with friends in person, ideally out in the fresh air, as a way to boost their mental wellbeing.


Suicide Prevention


Be proactive. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 15–24. Fortunately, in most cases, there are warning signs parents can watch for to help prevent these tragedies. They include:

  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Self-harm
  • Erratic behavior
  • Isolation from social relationships, poor performance at school and withdrawing from extracurricular activities
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Anxiety, unexplained fatigue, and excessive sadness or irritability

“Trust your instincts,” said Gross. “Sometimes, if a child doesn’t want to talk, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to be heard.”

If you are concerned, talk with your child’s pediatrician about a mental health referral. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide are also good resources for more information. Noticing symptoms and getting help early are great ways to find a positive, and even lifesaving, solution.

Are you concerned your child may be living with anxiety or depression? Learn more about available behavioral health services or call the 24-hour HelpLine at 502.451.3333.

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Summer edition of One Health magazine. Sign up for your free digital subscription.

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Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation Receives Funding for Total Health Roadmap Initiative

Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation Receives Funding for Total Health Roadmap Initiative

Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation Receives Funding for Total Health Roadmap Initiative

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and CHI’s Mission & Ministry Fund have awarded $1,124,240 in grant funding to Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation in support of a “Total Health Roadmap” initiative.

This pilot project, spanning two and a half years, will address health-related social needs by implementing a screening tool in three physician practices located in Berea and London. Frontline staff members, known as Community Health Workers, will provide navigational services to patients identified as having unmet basic human needs (housing, food security, childcare, transportation and behavioral health services) to better connect them with community resources.

Total Health Road Map Community Health Workers

Community Health Workers possess a special understanding of the community served – often living in the same neighborhood as the patients – and are able to bridge communication and cultural gaps common between underserved patients and clinical staff which results in better health outcomes.

This project is led by Neva Francis, Vice President of Healthy Communities, and Lois Justice, project manager for KentuckyOne Health.

The Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation is focused on the needs of KentuckyOne Health’s programs and services in Lexington, Kentucky and surrounding communities.

Looking for ways to help your local community? Join us on Saturday, October 14 for the Yes, Mamm! 5K which supports mammography screening and diagnostic services for the underinsured. Learn more and register today!

KentuckyOne Health Recognized by Healthgrades, Upcoming Back Pain Seminars and More News

KentuckyOne Health News and Events

KentuckyOne Health News and Events


Below is this week’s roundup of KentuckyOne Health news and events.

Hall of Fame Basketball Player to Discuss Personal Experience with Back Pain During Seminar at Jewish Hospital

Louisville, Ky. (August 31, 2017) – Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, is helping educate the community on the prevention and treatment of back, leg and neck pain, during a free seminar on Thursday, September 21 from 7:30–9 a.m.

Read the full story

Saint Joseph East Receives the 2017 Women’s Choice Award Among America’s Best Hospitals for Patient Safety, Orthopedics and Bariatric Surgery

Lexington, Ky. (August 30, 2017) – The award signifies that Saint Joseph East is among the top hospitals in the United States for each category.

Read the full story

Saint Joseph East Among Top 10 Percent in Nation for Pulmonary Care

Lexington, Ky. (August 28, 2017) – Pulmonary Care at Saint Joseph East, part of KentuckyOne Health, is among the top 10 percent in the nation as measured by volume-weighted performance, according to this year’s evaluation from Healthgrades, a leading online resource helping consumers make informed decisions about physicians, hospitals and comprehensive care.

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Dr. David McConda Joins KentuckyOne Health Orthopedic Associates in Bardstown

Bardstown, Ky. (August 28, 2017) – David McConda, MD, has joined KentuckyOne Health Orthopedic Associates, located at 875 Pennsylvania Avenue in Bardstown.

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Saint Joseph Hospital Among Nation’s Best in Stroke Care

Lexington, Ky. (August 28, 2017) – Saint Joseph Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, announced today that it has been recognized by Healthgrades as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals™ for Stroke Care in 2017.

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