Eastern Kentucky health-care workers and patients face more threats: heat, mold, mental-health and substance-abuse issues

Dr. Van Breeding (Photo: Ryan C. Hermens, Herald-Leader)

The rescues and initial cleanup are over, but health-care workers in areas of Eastern Kentucky that were hit by flooding now face other threats, reports Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald-Leader: “dangerous heat for many without power, mold that can cause Legionnaires’ disease in compromised lungs, and mental-health issues with people still in shock and grief from their trauma. Substance-use disorder has also been a huge problem in Eastern Kentucky.”

Dr. Van Breeding of the Whitesburg Mountain Comprehensive Medical Clinic said he had to cancel a long-planned festival set for Thursday to celebrate those in recovery and highlight resources, because rain is forecast.

“Many have lost suboxone and other medications, and Breeding is worried about another flood-related problem: drug overdoses,” Blackford reports. “They need more Narcan and clean needles for exchange. People, including healthcare workers themselves, need homes and money and clothes, and it’s not at all clear when they will get them.
UK HealthCare and other organizations are sending vaccines and supplies. People are sending aid through various organizations. But the medical needs for Eastern Kentucky, already serious, are going to get much more dire in the short and long term.”
“We need all the help we can get,” Breeding said.
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