Ky. nursing home industry seeks less regulation
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky’s nursing home industry is seeking relief from what it calls heavy-handed state oversight even though a recent review found multiple instances where its residents have been mistreated.
The review by The Courier-Journal of more than 100 reports of state inspections of the state’s nursing homes over the past three years found multiple instances where residents had been threatened, ridiculed, slapped, injured, or sexually abused.
Several residents died after what regulators said was poor or neglectful care, according to the report that also noted some of Kentucky’s 289 nursing homes have been fined nearly $16 million in the past three years for violations.
However, Kentucky nursing home representatives are protesting what they say is excessive regulation, arguing that statistics show Kentucky inspectors are more likely to cite “immediate jeopardy” violations than regulators in other states even though Kentucky nursing homes compare favorably in other categories, such as staffing or quality measures.
An immediate jeopardy violation is one that causes harm, serious injury or death, or is likely to do so, and carries fines of up to $10,000 a day.
Citing a “broken regulatory environment in Kentucky,” Betsy Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, appeared before a legislative committee in Frankfort last month to complain about what she said is overly strict enforcement of rules meant to ensure safety of residents. The association represents 230 of the state’s 289 long-term care facilities.
Drag racer killed in crash at Letcher Co. race track
ISOM (AP) — A Pike County man has died after a crash at the Mountain Motor Speedway in Isom.
Authorities tell local media that 61-year-old Willard M. Hicks of Shelby Gap was driving in a drag race Saturday evening, lost control of his vehicle, left the track and struck a tree.
Hicks was pronounced dead at a local hospital. No one else was injured in the crash.
Police said it was the first fatal wreck at the speedway in decades.
Health insurer to stop offering plans on Ky. exchange
LOUISVILLE (AP) — A Kentucky nonprofit that emerged as one of the largest insurance providers on the state’s health exchange has given notice that it won’t offer plans for 2016, a decision affecting tens of thousands of customers ahead of the next enrollment period starting in a few weeks.
The decision by Kentucky Health Cooperative, which operates in all 120 Kentucky counties, set off another round of political bickering over the federal health care overhaul and its impact on the state as Kentuckians prepare to elect a new governor on Nov. 3.
State health officials said Friday that current policyholders with Kentucky Health Cooperative will continue being covered through their existing policies, most of which expire Dec. 31, 2015. The company currently serves about 51,000 members.
But the cooperative notified state health officials that it will not offer plans when the 2016 open enrollment period begins Nov. 1 to purchase private health plans on kynect, the state’s health exchange. The enrollment period runs through next Jan. 31.
Kentucky Health Cooperative’s interim CEO, Glenn Jennings, said the nonprofit “came up short” of where it needed to be.
The company had received federal loans to help it stay afloat. Jennings said the decision to stop offering plans resulted from the company not receiving federal funding on which it had relied. The cooperative’s losses reached about $50 million in 2014 but had been whittled to $4 million by 2015, it said.
New downtown bridge to open early
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says a new Ohio River bridge between downtown Louisville and southern Indiana is expected to open earlier than projected.
Media report Beshear announced Monday that the bridge, originally slated to open next year, will carry drivers by Christmas. He said the exact opening date hasn’t been determined yet, but workers are ahead of schedule and on budget.
Beshear said the bridge would temporarily carry two-way traffic as crews make more extensive improvements to restore the adjacent Kennedy Bridge, which currently carries Interstate 65 across the Ohio River.
Crews broke ground on the long-awaited project in 2013. Beshear, who traveled to Louisville to make the announcement, said it was exciting to “stand on a bridge that was for decades a nebulous vision.”
Fort Campbell boots display honors service members who died
FORT CAMPBELL (AP) — More than 7,000 combat boots are being displayed at the 101st Airborne Division headquarters at Fort Campbell, honoring active duty service members who have died since the 9/11 attacks.
The display is being held during Military Survivor Appreciation Week, and the 101st and Fort Campbell Survivor Outreach Services also plan a “Run for the Fallen” on Friday.
The boots will be on display Thursday through Sunday. The post said each boot is adorned with a photo of a service member who has died since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The boots have been collected from military service members across Fort Campbell and abroad.
Morale, Welfare and Recreation engineer Thomas Kirkham says the boots are being arranged to be reminiscent of Arlington National Cemetery.
Ky. woman accused of theft from Tenn. bank
JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says a western Kentucky woman has been charged with theft from an Obion County bank.
The TBI said a former employee of Farmers Bank in Woodland Mills, 47-year-old April Dee Choate of Hickman, Kentucky, was indicted this month on one count of theft over $60,000. Choate surrendered to authorities and was released on $25,000 bond on Friday.
Federal, state and local investigators began in July looking into a report that cash was missing after a vault audit at the bank.
The TBI said the theft occurred between September 2007 and July.
Royalton, along Dawkins Line, becomes ‘Trail Town’
SALYERSVILLE (AP) — The eastern Kentucky community of Royalton in Magoffin County is Kentucky’s newest “Trail Town.”
Gov. Steve Beshear and first lady Jane Beshear announced Royalton as the 10th trail town. The governor said Royalton played an important role in development of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail.
The Beshears said last week the Dawkins Line Rail Trail is nearing completion with 24 miles soon to be available for use.
An 18-mile stretch opened to hikers, cyclists and horseback riders in 2013 and work is underway on the remaining 18 miles. The trail runs through Johnson, Magoffin and Breathitt counties and is managed by the Department of Parks.
The Kentucky Trail Town Program works to help connect communities to trail systems and develop them as tourist destinations.
Police investigating fatal shooting of man in parking lot
LAWRENCEBURG (AP) — Kentucky State Police are investigating a fatal shooting in the parking lot of a convention center in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.
Officials say KSP troopers were on a traffic stop late Saturday night near Eagle Lake Convention Center when they heard what sounded like multiple gunshots. The troopers went to the scene where they found 18-year-old Damycal Tre Bolton of Lexington unresponsive in the convention center parking lot.
Bolton had apparently been fatally wounded in the exchange of gunfire. The Anderson County Coroner pronounced him dead at the scene.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Kentucky State Police Post 12, Frankfort at 502-227-2221.
Searchers find boys alive in Red River Gorge area
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Two young cousins alone and lost in the Appalachian woods ate sticks and slept on the ground during a 20-hour ordeal that ended when searchers found them unharmed Friday in the rugged terrain in the Red River Gorge area of Kentucky, the mother of one boy said.
The boys, ages 5 and 7, were found about a mile from the family’s campsite in the popular recreation area, Kentucky State Police Trooper Joe Veeneman said. Their disappearance Thursday evening from the campsite set off a massive search in the wooded, ravine-filled area.
The boys came away from the adventure with only a few bumps and scrapes, the trooper said.
“No more scrapes than they would normally get on a hike,” said Julia Esposito, the mother of one of the boys.
“They’re in great shape, good spirits,” she added. “They don’t want to leave the campout.”
One boy was identified as 5-year-old Michael Esposito of Batavia, Ohio. His cousin, 7-year-old Adrian Ross, is from Bloomington, Indiana.
Louisville triathletes will be able to swim Ohio River
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Ironman triathlon competitors will be allowed to swim in the Ohio River after officials have lifted a recreational use advisory due to harmful levels of algae.
The swim portion of the Sunday run-bike-swim race was in jeopardy for weeks. WHAS-TV reports the Kentucky Division of Water lifted the advisory on Friday for the area of the river where the contest takes place. Other portions of the river are still under an advisory.
Karl Schmitt is president and CEO of the Louisville Sports Commission. He says Ironman Louisville is largest Ironman competition in North America. It draws more than 3,000 athletes and has a roughly $5 million economic impact in the community.
A separate event, the Great Ohio River Swim, was cancelled because of the algae blooms.