Journal of Appalachian Health Publishes Inaugural Issue

Lexington, Ky. - Scholars based at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health recently launched a new, open-access, online publication — the Journal of Appalachian Health (JAH) — to highlight research focused on the health of people living in Appalachia. In collaboration with UK Libraries and the University Press of Kentucky, and with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and partner institutions across Appalachia, the founding editors took the first issue live in the spring of 2019. 

“I am delighted to have worked with colleagues to create a source for disseminating solutions to the health problems of the region where I was born, raised and practiced. I hope it will serve to improve the information that all of us need to improve the health of those in Appalachia,” said Dr. F. Douglas Scutchfield, editor-in-chief of the JAH and Bosomworth Professor in Health Services Research and Policy.

The first issue of the JAH includes articles on topics including childhood exposure to second-hand smoke, the relationship between income inequality and early mortality, and efforts to increase preventive care to in hopes of decreasing the prevalence of diabetes.

The inaugural issue also includes an introduction to the new publication, “Delivering health knowledge and wisdom from the hills and hollows of Appalachia,” wherein the editors invite readers to find the “knowledge in the pages of Appalachia’s hills.” In this opening essay, the editors lay out the case for the JAH. They describe “a need to provide an outlet for scholarship about Appalachia’s health so that knowledge, and occasionally wisdom, is shared with those who care about and are committed to improving the region’s health.”

“We are very excited to launch this new journal as a hub for community and academic research in Appalachia,” said Erin Haynes, DrPH, senior associate editor of the JAH and professor and chair of Epidemiology at the UK College of Public Health. “We anticipate that the journal will foster new research collaborations that will ultimately improve the health of the region.”

“UK Libraries is proud to publish the JAH on the UKnowledge platform,” said Adrian Ho, director of Digital Scholarship of the Libraries. “Our collaboration with the journal team is an exemplar of how UK can make a positive impact on the Commonwealth and Appalachian communities through the synergy of expertise and resources from different campus units. We look forward to publishing more research focused on improving people’s health in the Appalachian region.” 

The JAH will be released quarterly. Submissions for future issues may be directed to More information on the journal, as well as an option to sign up for publication alerts for future issues, can be found on their website. The JAH is also on social media platforms FacebookYouTubeLinkedInInstagram and Twitter

Appalachian Research Day, Come Sit on the Porch: Calls for Proposals


The fifth annual Appalachian Research Day, Come Sit on the Porch, will be hosted September 18, 2019 by the University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health (UK CERH) in Hazard, KY.

UK CERH is requesting proposals for oral presentations and posters that highlight findings of community-based, health equity research conducted in Appalachia Kentucky. Preference will be given to proposals involving research that demonstrates impact, or potential impact, on local, state or national policy. Priority will be given to research that is consistent with the UK CERH’s mission to address health disparities in rural Kentucky.

Proposals may be submitted until May 1, 2019.

Click here to submit a proposal.

Appalachian Research Day is an opportunity to highlight community-based research that begins at the local level and builds upon relationships between people, neighborhoods, and groups who have common interests and concerns.  For more information, contact: Melissa Slone at or 606-439-3557, ext. 83575.

New Report Summarizes Findings from Six ARC Recovery-to-Work Listening Sessions

WASHINGTON, D.C., - The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) released a synopsis report of the Recovery-to-Work Listening Session Series hosted by the Commission December, 2018 - April, 2019.  At each of the six sessions -- held in Big Stone Gap, VA; Wilkesboro, NC; Muscle Shoals, AL; Pineville, KY; Portsmouth, OH; and Beckley, WV -- ARC leadership discussed substance abuse related workforce issues with representatives from local and state government, treatment and recovery service providers, workforce development entities, employers, law enforcement, and individuals currently in recovery. Today’s report summarizes the outcome of these discussions and identified five common themes that ARC should consider when addressing the economic issues stemming from substance abuse. 

These include:

  • Establishing a Recovery Ecosystem includes multiple sectors and services such as health, mental health, social work, criminal justice, housing, transportation, education and employment services;

  • Addressing recovery needs and developing recovery communities are important to the support of people in recovery;

  • Coordinating services will help individuals in recovery navigate needed services;

  • Expanding education and skills training opportunities, and encouraging recovery friendly workplaces are important for those in recovery to obtain employment;

  • Sharing effective practices will help communities assess, plan and develop strategies that promote the recovery ecosystem.

"Solutions to the substance abuse crisis in our Region and our country as a whole are not going to come from Washington DC, but from the collective wisdom of those fighting this epidemic on the ground, from local policymakers and treatment providers, to employers and those in recovery," said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. "Making this report on our findings from our communities public is a part of a transparent process, and an opportunity to engage the American people to address this crisis. I hope it enhances the conversation around this critical issue."

Earlier this year, ARC established the Substance Abuse Advisory Council (SAAC), a 24-member volunteer advisory group of leaders from law enforcement, recovery services, health, economic development, private industry, education, state government, and other sectors representing each of the Region’s 13 states. The Council’s goal is to draw on the themes identified from the Listening Sessions to develop recommendations to anchor ARC’s strategy to help address the workforce impacts of Appalachia’s substance abuse epidemic. As part of its work plan, the Council will be meeting again July 16-17, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Council’s final recommendations will be formally presented to the Commission in early September.

Additional information about ARC’s current portfolio of work in regards to the Region’s substance abuse crisis is available here. 

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a Public Partner of SOAR. To learn more ARC’s mission, visit their website.

The 2019 SOAR Summit is funded in part by the ARC. For more information about the Summit, visit our website. To register to attend the Summit, click here.

Students Earning GED, College Certificates Simultaneously

Mollie Ratliff, participant in the GED Plus program.

Mollie Ratliff, participant in the GED Plus program.

Sometimes life throws you a curveball that changes everything. For Mollie Ratliff, it was having a child while in high school, which led her to drop out in order to grow up fast and take on new responsibilities. 

Now, it’s Ratliff’s 11-year-old daughter (and 9-year-old son) who are again the catalyst for the Lawrence County, Ky., resident to take on new challenges, like earning her GED and college credentials at the same time.

“I want better for my kids, but I also want better for myself,” Ratliff said. 

The 26-year-old started the GED Plus program in March with the goal of finishing her general education requirements as well as earning certificates in the Medicaid Nurse Aide and Phlebotomy programs. So far, she has completed both certificates and the social studies portion of the GED test. Her goal is the finish the other components — math, reading and science — before the end of summer.

Ratliff said she learned about the GED Plus program while visiting the Kentucky Skills U center (formerly Adult Education) in Lawrence County. After speaking with Chrisha Spears, GED Plus Success Coach at Ashland Community and Technical College (ACTC), she decided to enroll and give it a shot. 

“I thought, ‘OK, that’s something that I could do.’ And I went out on a limb with it and tried it,” Ratliff said. “I was really, really nervous. Because I was like, what if I can’t do it? What if I end up letting myself and my kids down? At first, I thought I would get into it and then it just not be for me. And I didn’t want to let my kids see me failing or quitting. Because I’ve always tried to teach them we aren’t quitters.”

The road to a GED while taking college classes hasn’t been an easy one, Ratliff said, but her children have given her the encouragement and support she needs.

“One day when I got home (from class) my daughter looked at me and asked me how it was going,” she said. “And I told her I didn’t know, that I wasn’t so sure about it. She said, ‘You can do it. You’re OK, you can do it.’ Then I was like, you know what? I can do it.”

Ratliff also said the Skills U and ACTC staff have been helpful during her time as a student. 

“It’s hard. It’s harder than high school and I think that’s why a lot of people don’t even try to get their GED,” Ratliff said. “But it can be done. In Lawrence County, in Louisa, they are amazing. If you need help with something, they will sit down and explain it. They will help you the best that they can, because they want to see you better yourself too.”

The GED Plus program was launched earlier this year as a way to help those who do not have a high school diploma earn their credentials while co-enrolling in short-term college programs, allowing those students to enter the workforce faster. GED Plus is open to Kentucky adults who have not earned a high school diploma or GED. Those who have been out of school for a while sometimes have anxiety about college. GED Plus eliminates that concern because students receive one-on-one assistance from instructors and success coaches.

Prospective GED seekers must enroll at their local Skills U center, either in person or online. For those living in the FIVCO area, Skills U then sends the referral to Chrisha Spears at ACTC, who will follow up to set a meeting. 
Spears is a recruiter for the program, academic advisor for the students in the program and success coach.

“I enroll them in classes, ensure they have assessment tests, schedule them for new student orientation and a final meeting to ensure that they are ready for GED and college,” Spears said. “And I send a roster to each ACTC instructor that is working with a GED Plus student. We then discuss how these students are different from traditional students, however are expected to achieve just like any other college student.

“As a success coach, I check in with the students multiple times throughout the semester, whether it be via email, phone or seeing them at the GED center. I may send them reminders to check something such as email or their Student Account Center. I may send them words of encouragement, whatever the situation needs. I also connect students to other services and resources.

Students may begin their GED at any time. For students who also want to earn their college credentials simultaneously, they must enroll an attend class based on college’s course schedule. 

Programs that are eligible for the GED Plus program are:

Advanced Manufacturing
Gas Welder, ARC Cutter, Electrician Trainee Level 1, Maintenance Mechanic Level I, Welder Helper and Tack Welder

Business and IT
A+ Prep, Net+ Prep and Security+ Prep

Phlebotomy for the Health Care Worker, Medicaid Nurse Aide and Certified Medical Technician

Transportation and Logistics
Automotive Air Conditioning Mechanic, Manual Transmission/Drive Train Technician, Brake Repair, Automatic Transmission/Transaxle Technician, Engine Repair, Front End Mechanic, Automotive Electrician, Diesel Heavy Duty Drive Train Mechanic, Diesel Mechanics Fluid Power Mechanic, Diesel Steering and Suspension Mechanic, Heavy Duty Brake Mechanic Mobile Air Conditioning Mechanic, Preventive Maintenance Mechanic and Undercarriage Mechanic

Students who qualify for the GED Plus program can also take advantage of the Kentucky Work Ready Scholarship, which pays for tuition for short-term certificate programs. 

The Boyd County Skills U center will have an open house event from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10 in Room 166 at ACTC’s College Drive Campus. There will be light refreshments and students can learn about the GED Plus program, meet with the Skills U instructors, complete a college application and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms. 

For more information about GED Plus, contact Spears at or visit their website. To find your local Skills U center, please click here.

Ashland Community and Technical College (ACTC) is a Founding Partner of SOAR. Click here to visit their website.

LMU-DCOM Partners with ARH to Create Residency Program

Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc. (ARH), with the support of Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM), will welcome its inaugural class of six internal medicine residents on July 1, 2019. The new residency training program will be based at Harlan ARH Hospital and Whitesburg ARH Hospital in Kentucky. The new class of residents includes two graduates from the LMU-DCOM Class of 2019, Dr. Cassandra Do and Dr. Jane-Katherine “JK” Heinold.

“I am honored to be a part of the first class. I love the people of Appalachia and look forward to serving them for many years to come,” said Dr. Heinold.

In addition to Dr. Do and Dr. Heinold, residents in the inaugural class include:

  • David L. Napier, a native of Hazard, Kentucky and a graduate from the University of Kentucky, and the University of Pikeville – Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine.

  • Justin D. Cozza of Williamsport, PA, who is a graduate of The University of Pittsburgh and American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. He has family ties to Hindman, Kentucky.

  • James Crosby of Sylvester, Georgia, a graduate of the University of Georgia and the University of Pikeville – Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine.

  • Mary Elizabeth Kimbrough of Mount Hope, Alabama, a graduate of The University of Alabama and Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Carolinas Campus in Spartanburg South Carolina.

Internal medicine residency programs are three years in length. ARH is accredited for 18 residents across the two locations. LMU-DCOM played a significant role in drafting the applications for institutional and programmatic approval. After months of planning and development, the program was approved April 9, 2019.

“We want our program to have the culture and the support our local communities,” said ARH CEO Joe Grossman. “It is our expectation that many of the physicians that we train will stay and practice here for many years. They will complete our program with a tremendous appreciation for rural medicine and the challenges that our people face.”

Several of the core faculty are physicians that grew up in central Appalachia. “We have assembled a tremendous team to lead this new program,” said Dr. Maria Braman, chief medical officer for ARH. “Our program director, Dr. Bernie Sergent, and associate program director, Dr. Stanley Marlowe, both have roots in eastern Kentucky.”

Sergent hails from Deane, Kentucky, and attended the University of Pikeville School of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his training as an internal medicine resident in a community-based program in Norton, Virginia in 2006, and has been practicing for 13 years.

Marlowe was born in Harlan ARH Hospital. He attended medical school at LMU-DCOM, and has been teaching medical students as a preceptor for LMU-DCOM since completing his residency program, also in Norton, Virginia, in 2016. Marlowe was also awarded the 2019 LMU-DCOM Preceptor of the Year award.

“ARH has made a tremendous investment in preparing the clinical learning environment for the residents and medical students at both Whitesburg and Harlan,” said Tammy Allen, ARH residency program coordinator. “The new space includes classrooms equipped with distance-learning technology, sleeping rooms for on-call residents, as well as simulation training space and equipment.”

The ARH Residency Program helps LMU-DCOM in fulfilling its mission to serve the health and wellness needs of people within Appalachia and enhance access to comprehensive health care for underserved communities.

“Through programs like this, we aim to do our part in creating a rural primary care physician workforce,” said Dr. Brian A. Kessler, vice president and dean of LMU-DCOM. “LMU-DCOM possesses the will and the talent to assist hospitals and clinics through the residency program accreditation process. We can best improve the distribution of our physician workforce within the region if we can fully train medical students and physicians in rural communities.”

The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. LMU-DCOM is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community, and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of osteopathic physicians to provide health care in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU-DCOM, call 1.800.325.0900, ext. 7082, email, or visit their website.

For Scottie Day, 'No Bigger Honor' Than Caring for Kentucky's Children

Dr. Scottie Day was recently named physician-in-chief for Kentucky Children's Hospital after serving in an interim position.

Dr. Scottie Day was recently named physician-in-chief for Kentucky Children's Hospital after serving in an interim position.

LEXINGTON, KY. - From the time he was five years old, Scottie Day knew he was going to be a doctor.

"I don't remember what the drive was," said Day. "But I knew that's what I was going to do."

Day hails from Smilax, a small town in Eastern Kentucky which, according to Day, consists of "a post office and a grocery store." His father was a coal miner and his mother stayed home with Day and his brother.

"I'm very proud of the place where I grew up," said Day. "My brother and I had the most loving parents in the world."

After graduating from Leslie County High School, Day found himself at a crossroads. He was offered a full scholarship for music, yet the calling to be a doctor he felt at the age of five led him to Hazard Community College. From there, he went on to University of Kentucky as an Otis A. Singletary Scholar in what is now the UK Lewis Honors College. Day graduated with a degree in biology in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, then continued his studies at UK College of Medicine.

He never regretted the decision to pursue medicine. While in medical school, he met his wife and together they graduated with medical degrees from UK and continued their medical training all over the United States. In 2011, Day was invited to interview for a position at UK HealthCare, an interview he almost skipped.

"My son and I were at the airport in Los Angeles waiting for our flight to Lexington while one of the worst snowstorms in the last 20 years was hitting the eastern part of the U.S.," Day recalled. "I called my wife and said it probably wouldn't work out in Lexington because we hadn't been there in years, and I had interviews at other hospitals where I wanted to be. Then all of a sudden, they announce my name over the loudspeaker; they had two seats on a flight to Lexington."

When Day and his son arrived, what they saw was an astounding transformation.

"I called my wife and said 'this place has changed.' When I went to school here, the hospital was two or three little buildings. Now it's this massive campus. Where there were multiple restaurants on the corner is now this huge hospital, with academic and research facilities and construction all over campus."

Day joined the pediatric critical care team in 2011 and was appointed physician-in-chief of Kentucky Children's Hospital (KCH) and chair of the Department of Pediatrics in early 2019. He is responsible for the operation and administrative oversight of KCH and its academic, education and research components.

As a native of Kentucky, Day is aware of some of the preconceived notions people have about the state. "A lot of people who have not been in Kentucky will say, 'it's a little different, isn't it?' Yeah, it’s a little different, but that’s good, we're about advancing science. We're about advancing research. We're about becoming one of the top hospitals in the country. But we're also about taking care of patients and families first."

"There are so many wonderful physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, child-life staff that I get to lead that many times I wake up in the morning and I ask myself, 'how did I end up here? How am I at a place where I get to lead  where the mission is really taking care of the issues that affect the state?'"

Kentucky has been hit hard by the opioid crisis and ranks among the worst for child abuse, obesity, diabetes and cancer. KCH staff and UK researchers work across disciplines every day to address these health disparities.

"Athletics uses the term 'big blue nation,' and that it really is that feeling," said Day. "And it's the pride of being from Kentucky. Yes, we have some statistics. Yes, we have issues we need to work on. But I'm at a place that's working on those issues each and every day."

UK HealthCare, a Presenting Partner of SOAR, has become a world-renowned facility for cutting edge treatment and research. At the core, Day says UK is doing what is best for the people of Kentucky, and that starts with treating children, a mission that Day is humbled and honored to undertake.  

"What is a bigger honor than for somebody to trust their child in my care?" said Day. "Because I have children, and I know how I would feel. There's not a bigger honor."

Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign is a comprehensive campaign focused on increasing opportunities for student success, funding innovative research, improving health care, strengthening our alumni network, and supporting our athletic programs. To learn more about this initiative, visit their website.

Fox Business and USA Today Recognize Alice Lloyd College

Over the past few days, Alice Lloyd College, a Grassroots Partner of SOAR, has received recognition by both Fox Business and USA Today for the College’s unique Student Work Program and Tuition Guarantee Scholarship. The recognition stemmed from an article entitled “These Colleges Will Pay Tuition, but You’ll Work for It,” written by Anna Helhoski of NerdWallet. The rising fear among today’s college students, a continuing topic of discussion throughout the U.S., is that pursuing a higher education will leave youth with a crushing load of debt. The article recognizes Alice Lloyd College’s unique mission to assuage the fears and financial burden of students in Appalachia by charging students no out-of-pocket costs for tuition.

Awarded the College’s distinctive Appalachian Leadership Scholarship, students from ALC’s 108 county service area are guaranteed that the full cost of their tuition will be covered. ALC Students are required to participate in the ALC Student Work Program, which requires students to complete a minimum of ten work-study hours weekly. Working in various areas across campus students serve as janitors, office assistants, teacher assistants, and more students gain work experience while completing their degrees.

The Work Study Program is a vital portion of the College’s inception nearly a century ago. ALC’s Founder, Mrs. Lloyd, understood the youth of Appalachia had prime potential for leadership but lacked the financial means to pay for education. Thus the mission of ALC was born, Mrs. Lloyd made it the goal of ALC to never turn away a student because of their inability to pay. Instead, she founded a college. Now over a hundred years later, the College still holds to Mrs. Lloyd’s principals and works with the students of Appalachia to give them all an opportunity for education.

Click here to view the full article from USA Today.

If you would like to read the full article from Fox Business, please click here.