Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 23, 2014

Low but plentiful turnout for SOAR

RUSSELL — A Shaping Our Appalachian Region listening session for health care drew a low turnout but offered plenty of ideas on Monday.

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital hosted the free public health care work group.

SOAR  is a bi-partisan effort led by Gov. Steve Beshear and Rep. Hal Rogers that consists of 10 work groups that are spending June and July hosting “listening sessions” across the region. These listening sessions are for the purpose of gathering innovative ideas from citizens, organizations, etc. which will be discussed among work group committee members in late July.

A final report will be delivered to Beshear and Rogers in August that will include the three to five most promising ideas with detailed strategies for implementation.  

Though they were few in number, the individuals who attended the health care work session were able to come up with several ideas to improving regional healthcare.

Chairwoman of the Healthcare Work group, Nikki Stone said, “For a small group, we were able to have a great discussion. There was a great mixture of people from health care professionals to general citizens.”

The discussion varied from health care of the elderly to that of the emergency room.

A common theme Stone has seen at the sessions is youth — and how to get them involved and educated on how to live healthy.

“In a way the health group is very unique. We are looking at something that affects every single person in the region, where as tourism may only effect certain groups,” Stone said.

According to Stone, there are some really positive things in the region that can be marketed.

“We can market it as hope,” she said. “Hope for the future.”

According to Stone, the charge for the health work group that will meet at OLBH is to uncover innovative opportunities to enhance regional access to health care and human services, including suggestions for a significant increase in partnership/collaboration across sectors, institutions and governments. This work must include regional attention to the social determinants of health, as well as the unique opportunities offered by technology and non-health related institutions to improve regional health outcomes.

The ideas taken from this session will combine with those of future sessions and be condensed to five main ideas that will be presented to the executive committee in August.

The next health work group session will be held on Thursday at Union College.

“Word of mouth and personal invitations would be a great way to get more people to come out,” Stone said.

For more information or to give your thoughts on health care in the region, visit soar-ky.gov.

MARY ALFORD can be reached at malford@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2657.


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