Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky., on the Cabinet for Health and Family Services:
Once again, a child is dead — allegedly brutally abused by adults supposed to protect him.
Once again, officials in charge — Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services — appear to have overlooked and possibly suppressed warnings of suspected abuse of the child in the home where they had placed him.
And once again cabinet officials have violated Kentucky's open records law by withholding records of the case, despite repeated court rulings and an ongoing legal battle by the state's two largest newspapers to force the cabinet to comply with the law.
What does it take to get the attention of Gov. Steve Beshear — who repeatedly has professed his commitment to "transparency" on child deaths?
How can we end the breathtaking arrogance of cabinet lawyers who delay, deny and obstruct any effort to get a full accounting of the agency's conduct when it comes to protecting helpless children?
How can we stop child abuse deaths without understanding why they happen?
This latest case comes from Eastern Kentucky where The Mountain Citizen requested records related to last year's death of 2-year-old Watson Adkins, found in the Prestonsburg home of an aunt and uncle where the cabinet had placed him and three siblings. Social workers put them there after they were removed from their mother because of substance abuse.
When The Mountain Citizen, a weekly newspaper in Inez, requested information on the case, the cabinet failed to respond within the time limits set by state open records law, then failed to follow the law by withholding some records and heavily redacting the material it released, the state Attorney General found.
The aunt and uncle now face charges of murder in Watson's death and of abusing his three siblings also in their care.
But the cabinet appears to face no sanctions.
Citizens, lawmakers and the courts must demand it be held accountable and follow the law.
The Paducah (Ky.) Sun on pill mill legislation:
Gov. Steve Beshear says House Bill 1, the "pill mill bill" he signed into law in July, is working as intended. Recently, the governor said, "We knew that this bill would have an immediate impact on thwarting the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs in our state, and the statistics over the last few months are already showing progress."
Oh? What statistics are those? Does he have some hard numbers that show drug abuse is down or the illegal drug trade has left the state? Those were the bill's objectives, after all. But the governor hasn't produced any evidence that either is taking place.
No, the statistics Beshear refers to are these: Since July, 10 of the 44 pain management centers in Kentucky have closed and pain med prescriptions in the commonwealth have fallen between 6 percent and 9 percent.
That doesn't prove the new law is working. It more likely shows that many people suffering chronic pain and other maladies are not getting the medications they need, either because of reduced access or because they refuse to submit to mandatory drug screenings that treat them like potential criminals.
The numbers probably also mean many conscientious doctors have done what they said they would do if the onerous law passed — stop writing prescriptions for "scheduled" drugs. The new law lays expensive and time-consuming requirements on doctors and puts their licenses at risk if they don't follow the new regulations to the letter. Some physicians view the requirements as an invasion of patients' privacy that pre-empts the doctor-patient relationship.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky Department of Insurance is trying to force insurance companies to cover periodic urine tests for patients with long-term prescriptions. After the bill was signed into law, it ran into a snag when some insurers refused to pay for the mandatory screens because they are not medically necessary. But the state has declared the tests necessary — though for law enforcement purposes, not patient treatment. ...
One state official says of the new law, "It not only puts the brakes on doctor shoppers, it also improves patient care." That's a premature conclusion. All the law may actually be doing is hurting patients.
Owensboro (Ky.) Messenger-Inquirer on researching an Ebola curing:
Normally, we wouldn't be talking about the Ebola virus. It's a disease predominantly found in Africa.
But the deadly virus has made its way to Owensboro — only in this situation, it's to find a cure.
Kentucky BioProcessing in MidAmerica Airpark is working toward a vaccine that could be used on humans who are exposed to the virus.
Its research is being tested by the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. The purpose is to develop a vaccine in the extreme instance Ebola is used for bioterrorism.
Although only 1,850 cases have been diagnosed in the past 36 years, it is an often fatal, contagious disease that causes internal bleeding and hemorrhaging to those infected.
"There are a couple of outbreaks in Africa this year, but they are fairly isolated," said Hugh Haydon, KBP chairman. "The concern is that it's such a virulent and lethal virus and international travel is so fast that it could spread around the world quickly. There's also a concern that it could be weaponized."
Haydon's comment is not only scary, it addresses the reality of the post 9/11 world we have come to know.
In a day and age when terrorists are seeking any means necessary to cause Americans harm, it's understandable why the U.S. military would be interested in having a cure for Ebola or any other deadly disease.
Recently, KBP reported "promising results" have come from the research on monkeys that were infected with Ebola during the testing phases.
At a secure facility in Maryland, four of the six rhesus macaques monkeys given a three-antibody cocktail — "designed to neutralize the virus" — lived, giving a 67 percent survival rate instead of the 90 percent fatality rate usually associated with the disease.
From the optimism being shown by KBP officials, they're close to having the Ebola antibody ready for human use.
In the past, KBP has also researched cures for different types of cancers, HIV and AIDS.
But if KBP's work on the Ebola virus turns out to be the cure scientists have been seeking for nearly four decades, it will be a significant discovery for the world.
And what an accomplishment that would be coming from this community's backyard.