Kentucky | 50 states of population health

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GERARD "GER" COLMAN. CEO of Baptist Health (Louisville)

On the top challenge

"In Kentucky, mental health issues, addiction (especially to opioids), and chronic diseases such as diabetes are among the most pressing health concerns. The state, with the nation's third highest rate of opioid abuse, is at the epicenter of the addiction epidemic. Drug overdose deaths, up 12 percent from 2015 to 2016, claimed more than 1,400 in 2016. Suicide and diabetes also are among the leading causes of death."

On the hospital's response

"Baptist Health offers behavioral health and addiction counseling, detox and treatment programs in many of our communities. Our staff is involved in community task forces aimed at curbing substance abuse and chemical dependency. Telemedicine electronically links patients in far-flung and rural areas with health professionals. Baptist Health has brought mental healthcare and substance abuse counseling to many who, in the past, would have gone without such help.

For those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, we offer hospital-based classes to teach which foods best keep their disease in check. We also host health fairs and other community events with free screenings that provide opportunities for people to have one-on-one conversations with clinical providers about prevention and treatment.

We also know that people like to access information through different forms and in convenient settings. We have developed many digital tools to help us provide information about wellness through our digital newsletter, Flourish; online videos by our physicians and clinicians; and health risk assessments."

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