Eastern Kentucky, a region known for its stunning landscapes and tight-knit communities, faces a silent yet menacing threat – diabetes. While this chronic condition affects people worldwide, its impact on Eastern Kentucky is particularly noteworthy.
That is why SOAR, alongside healthcare partners throughout Eastern Kentucky, will host the first-ever East Kentucky Diabetes Symposium on Friday, November 3 at Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky in Hazard, Ky.
The event will feature presentations and interactive sessions from leading experts from the state of Kentucky, as well as healthcare providers across the region.
SOAR has extensively addressed health disparities in Kentucky’s 54 Appalachian counties through programming and collaborative partnerships to bring opportunities to the forefront. This is another one of those examples.
Registration is just $25.
This includes all programming and a diabetic-friendly breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
You can register HERE.
Stay tuned for more speaker announcements, but in the meantime, meet our confirmed Featured Speakers …
Meet the Featured Speakers
Dr. Steven J. Stack, MD, MBA, Commissioner for Public Health, Commonwealth of Kentucky
Steven J. Stack was appointed Commissioner for Public Health and Chief Medical Officer for the Commonwealth of Kentucky in February 2020, and was subsequently elected Secretary-Treasurer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials in the fall of 2020 and President-Elect in 2022.
Dr. Stack is a board-certified emergency physician with more than 20 years of emergency medicine clinical practice and emergency department management experience.
Throughout his career, Dr. Stack has served in numerous medical professional association leadership roles. In 2006, he was the first board certified emergency physician ever elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees and in 2015 he served as AMA President.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Dr. Stack graduated magna cum laude in classical studies from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He completed his medical education and emergency medicine residency at Ohio State University and his MBA at the University of Tennessee Haslam College of Business.
Barry Martin, Founder and CEO of Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky
Barry is the Chief Executive Officer of Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky (PCCEK), a member of SOAR’s Executive Board, and on the Chair of the KCTCS Board of Reagents. PCCEK operates four rural health clinics in the heart of Appalachia in southeastern Kentucky. He started the organization in 2003 with the goal of providing quality healthcare to the residents of the region and to contribute to the communities where the patients live.
He began his career in healthcare straight out of college as a Kentucky Medicaid Auditor. He worked as a Controller in a long term care facility after he left State Government. His next move was to the position as the CFO of Shriners Hospitals for Children in Lexington, KY. During his experience at Shriners he remained involved in working with RHCs as a consultant and this helped him decide to return to his home region to make a difference.
Barry’s work ethic, along with his 30 years of diverse health care experience has given him the business understanding and industry knowledge to build a clinically integrated, multi-tiered, patient centered primary care system using the RHC model. The practice includes Family Medicine, Pediatrics, OB/GYN, Behavioral Health, Dentistry, Diabetes Center, Pharmacy and other ancillary services all in one location.
Additionally, he has developed unique relationships with various partners to meet the needs of the patients PCCEK serves. Working with the local hospital, the University of Kentucky, and a regional Community Mental Health Center he has developed innovative approaches to issues faced by the patient population served by PCCEK. Barry has the willingness to adapt to an ever changing healthcare environment and he makes needed investments to serve the patient population and meet their needs.
He graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1986 with a Bachelors of Science in Accounting and obtained a Masters of Health Administration degree, also from UK, in 1995.
Barry currently serves as Finance Chair of Kentucky Primary Care Association (KPCA) and has been Chairman, a board member and/or committee member of the organization for over 25 years.
In addition to his duties as Finance Chair he currently sits on the organizations Executive Committee, IPA Committee and Kentucky Medicaid Primary Care Technical Advisory Committee. He was also recently appointed to the Kentucky Advisory Council for Medical Assistance by the Governor to represent KPCA.
Some of his community service includes Chair of Kentucky Mountain Health Alliance, Past President of the Hazard Rotary Club and a Board of Regents for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes, a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels, comes in two main forms: type 1 and type 2.
In Eastern Kentucky, type 2 diabetes is the primary concern. The region has consistently ranked among the highest in the United States for diabetes prevalence, with factors like genetics, lifestyle, and limited access to healthcare contributing to this alarming trend.
- A Genetic Predisposition: Eastern Kentucky has a high prevalence of Appalachian ancestry, which is associated with a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes. This genetic factor, combined with family history, increases the risk of diabetes for many individuals in the region.
- Lifestyle and Socioeconomic Factors: The Eastern Kentucky population faces socioeconomic challenges, including poverty and limited access to education and healthcare. These factors often lead to unhealthy lifestyles, including poor nutrition and lack of physical activity, which are significant risk factors for diabetes.
- Healthcare Access: Access to healthcare services in rural areas of Eastern Kentucky is limited. Many residents have to travel long distances to receive medical care, making regular check-ups and diabetes management a significant challenge.
The Impact of Diabetes on Eastern Kentucky:
The 5 Area Development Districts with the highest mortality rates related to Diabetes are in Eastern Kentucky.
The Diabetes rate in Appalachia is 16% compared to 13% in non-appalachia Kentucky.
The consequences of diabetes in Eastern Kentucky are far-reaching and deeply concerning. These include:
- Health Disparities: Diabetes exacerbates existing health disparities in the region. Complications like heart disease, kidney failure, and vision problems are more prevalent, leading to a lower quality of life for many residents.
- Economic Burden: The cost of managing diabetes can be overwhelming, especially for families with limited financial resources. The economic burden of diabetes in Eastern Kentucky affects individuals and the community as a whole.
- Reduced Workforce Productivity: Diabetes-related health issues can lead to missed workdays and decreased productivity, affecting the overall economic development of the region.
How are we fighting back?
Despite the challenges, Eastern Kentucky is not giving in to the diabetes epidemic. Several initiatives and organizations are working tirelessly to combat this threat:
- Education and Awareness: Local health departments, healthcare providers, and community organizations are conducting awareness campaigns to educate residents about diabetes risk factors, prevention, and management.
- Access to Healthcare: Efforts are being made to improve healthcare access in rural areas. Telehealth services and mobile clinics help bridge the gap, ensuring that residents can receive essential diabetes care.
- Lifestyle Changes: Community programs promote healthier lifestyles by encouraging physical activity and providing access to nutritious food options. These initiatives aim to prevent diabetes and support those already living with the condition.
- Support Networks: Diabetes support groups provide individuals with a platform to share experiences, gain knowledge, and receive emotional support while managing their condition.
And now, SOAR is hosting the first-ever Diabetes symposium with Eastern Kentucky healthcare leaders to help navigate, learn, and try our best to defeat the Diabetes epidemic that Eastern Kentucky faces.
Diabetes poses a formidable threat to Eastern Kentucky, affecting the health, well-being, and economic stability of the region.
However, with ongoing efforts to raise awareness, improve healthcare access, and promote healthier lifestyles, Eastern Kentucky is determined to confront this silent epidemic head-on. By uniting communities and healthcare resources, there is hope that the region can reduce the burden of diabetes and create a healthier future for its residents.
Register for the Diabetes Symposium HERE.