Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Spreads Get Healthy Kentucky Message in Pikeville

Press Release Date:  Friday, April 27, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Gwenda Bond

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today visited the Pikeville Medical Center to discuss the fundamentals of his wellness initiative, Get Healthy Kentucky, encouraging those attending to engage in regular physical activity; follow a nutritious eating plan; and avoid tobacco products.

Following this advice is key to healthy living and ensuring a good quality of life for years to come, the Governor told the group of health care professionals, local officials, community leaders, students and others. After the Governor’s presentation, audience members shared personal thoughts and questions about Get Healthy Kentucky.

“By emphasizing awareness preventing chronic disease, not only will Kentuckians live longer, but the taxpayers will also benefit by saving billions of dollars that would otherwise be spent treating diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” said Governor Fletcher. “I want all Kentuckians to understand the value of prevention in building a stronger, healthier Commonwealth. Leading healthier lifestyles and preventing disease is the foundation of Get Healthy Kentucky.”

Governor Fletcher also presented eight awards to area organizations and residents to recognize their contributions to the health of their community:

  • Pike County Youth Leadership Council (Rosalind Stanley) - Worked to make the Pike County Courthouse and Hall of Justice smoke free and has been recognized for getting a student drug testing policy passed for the Pike County School District. The group also has been recognized for efforts in the passage of House Bill 55, which eliminated the need for designated smoking areas in state-owned buildings.
  • Juanita Deskins (Pikeville Medical Center) - Planned road races, helped establish a walking trail, and helped start an on-site Weight Watchers group, among other activities, for hospital employees.
  • Octavia Dales (Pike County Health Department) - Implemented a wellness program orchestrated through the local health department; active in promoting a smoke-free atmosphere for local businesses and organizations; and visits senior citizens to promote health and wellness.
  • East Kentucky Broadcasting (Keith Casebolt) - A smoke-free facility that provides free YMCA memberships to employees and promotes other worksite wellness activities.
  • Sherry Riddle (YMCA) - Works with the Pikeville Independent School District to promote health and wellness programs to seventh and eighth graders.
  • Community Trust Bank (Ken Early) - Provides health risk assessments for Community Trust Bank employees across Kentucky.
  • Leadership Pike County (Brad Hall) - Provides health risk appraisals for all members and annual tours of Pikeville Medical Center to understand the impact of the health care industry on the area and learn more about health issues.

“We are encouraged by the efforts of people like those we’re honoring today who share our vision and our dedication to Get Healthy Kentucky,” said Governor Fletcher.

The event also included Justin Harris, a Lexington teenager who serves as the National Diabetes Youth Advocate. Harris, who has diabetes, talked about the harmful effects of the disease and the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.

“Justin is a wonderful spokesperson for Get Healthy Kentucky,” said Governor Fletcher. “By sharing his personal story, he inspires others to do more to identify and treat diabetes, one of the most prevalent diseases in our state.”

Get Healthy Kentucky is a statewide wellness initiative that incorporates physical activity, nutrition and tobacco cessation and prevention components. GHK has created an opportunity for individuals and groups to have a one-stop, central location for information and resources that will improve the quality of life for Kentuckians and help prevent chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

GHK is designed for Kentuckians of all ages and includes access to reliable information on the GHK Web site, The site provides information about the Governor’s Challenge program, an incentive-based fitness program designed to help participants set personal fitness goals and track their progress online.

“As a whole, Kentucky has work to do to improve its health,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “The Fletcher administration not only understands what has to be done to reverse these negative health trends, but also has created this comprehensive, motivational program where people can get all the tools and information they need to Get Healthy.”

Kentuckians have long battled high rates of obesity, physical inactivity and tobacco use.

“My administration is addressing these problems through programs and policy decisions,” said Governor Fletcher.

Here’s a look at a few of the recent accomplishments:

  • A smoking cessation benefit in public employees’ health plans and Medicaid
  • An increased number of anti-smoking ordinances, including smoke-free state government buildings and 13 city/county ordinances across the state that prohibit smoking in most public facilities
  • Expanded newborn metabolic screenings, increasing the number of screenings given to newborns (which test for metabolic disorders) from four to 29
  • The creation of diabetes Centers of Excellence in six areas in Kentucky, which will link patients with local health departments, health educators, hospitals and other resources in their community to provider better disease management for those living with diabetes
  • Improved health department facilities through infrastructure improvement grants awarded to 26 health departments across Kentucky, totaling $10 million
  • Recent changes to school nutrition programs. The changes resulted in Kentucky receiving an A- on a national report card measuring the quality of nutrition in schools.
  • An increased commitment to preventing a bioterrorism attack. Kentucky is now ranked third in the nation for bioterrorism preparedness.

For the past several months, the governor has traveled the state promoting Get Healthy Kentucky, stopping in Owensboro, Paintsville, Ashland, Elizabethtown, Louisville, Owsley County, Hyden, Northern Kentucky and Hazard. The events have drawn well more than 1,500 people.

For more information about Get Healthy Kentucky or to participate in the Governor’s Challenge, visit The Web site contains information to help Kentuckians lead healthier, more active lifestyles and information on incentives to motivate Kentuckians to continue to challenge themselves.