During the Sept. 15 Kentucky River District Health Department Board of Health meeting, several healthcare officials discussed the updates recently made within their departments and the impacts of their services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

KRDHD Public Health Director Scott Lockard said the district's clinical services have been utilized at a steady rate and are continuing to grow.

“WIC services, we're continuing to do a very high participation rate, 97-98 percent, which is the highest that we have ever been,” said Lockard. “We have resumed our family planning services and clinics, so we're ramping our in-person services up.”

The KRDHD, said Lockard, is continuing to work closely with community partners and teach self-management skills through their telehealth services.

 “Harm reduction services are continuing on,” said Lockard, stating that the district has also been trying to increase education in substance abuse, and recently participated in a Narcan distribution event.

The district, he said, is also working with schools to ensure that each of them are prepared for the scheduled in-person return date of Sept. 28.

“School nurses, we're gearing up for our schools to start back. We have some of the nurses who are helping us with our contact tracing efforts right now,” said Lockard. “We're working really closely with our superintendents and school personnel for that.”

KRDHD Health Education Coordinator Susan Kincaid also spoke during the meeting, providing an update about the district's health promotion services.

“The health promotion team has been extremely busy,” said Kincaid. Recently, she said, each of the district's health departments have held several events to boost education in their communities.

The health department, she said, is also working on upcoming events. KRDHD, said Kincaid, will be co-hosting a driv-thru health fair with KRADD in Letcher County on Oct. 7, Knott County on Oct. 8, Wolfe County on Oct. 13 and Lee and Owsley Counties combined on Oct. 30. Each event will be held from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the senior citizen centers of the selected counties.

The KRDHD is applying for another grant for healthy at home kits, said Kincaid, and is planning more future virtual events for social media to involve community members. The district, she said, is also going to expand their jail education services to include the homeless shelters and behavioral health venues, and also wants to add an after school program for substance abuse in the near future.

Each Thursday, she said, the health department has handed out goodie bags through their health promotion team, totaling more than 3,000 bags being given. The bags are filled with resources and information about various educational topics for children.

“This has just been very, very successful,” said Kincaid. This week, said Kincaid, the department will gear the bags for teenagers and will include resources about dating dangers, bullying, suicide prevention and so on.

The district, said Lockard, has continued to see an increase in COVID-19 cases in their service area, and hopes to encourage and promote more testing and the practice of safety guidelines.

The last few days, said Lockard, the KRDHD has reported several new cases, bringing the district's total to 669 cases with 145 of them being active, as of Tuesday. Perry County, he said, has a total of 320 confirmed cases, with 51 being active. Of those, Lockard said, some were of a public health concern.

Three employees at the Hazard Applebee's location tested positive for COVID-19 recently, he said. If anyone visited this specific restaurant between Saturday, Sept. 5, and Saturday, Sept. 12, they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Healthcare officials ask people to please monitor their symptoms and if they do develop a cough, fever and/or shortness of breath, please call their primary care provider.

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