Local News

Health Department Public Meetings Begin This Week

The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness will hold the first in a series of meetings this week to gather information from the public about the health care services they’re receiving.

Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt says the meetings are part of the department’s mission
to improve the health of Louisville’s citizens.

“We’ll ask questions that range from things like, ‘Have you been to an emergency room? If so, why? Was it because it was the hours of your physician aren’t convenient, or you don’t have insurance and there’s a perception that the emergency room care is free?’ We’ll be trying to get at some of those issues,” she said.

Nesbitt presented a report last week that finds many Louisville residents are battling health problems related to smoking and excessive weight.

Public meetings will be held tomorrow at the NIA Center on West Broadway and Thursday at the Southwest Government Center on Dixie Highway.

Both begin at 6:00pm.

Two more meetings are set for later this month in Prospect and Okolona.

Local News

Nesbitt: Many Louisvillians Face Health Problems From Smoking, Weight

The director of the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness has delivered an assessment of the health of Louisville citizens and some strategies for improvement.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt has been studying the city’s health statistics—the latest available are from 2009.

Nesbitt says the smoking rate among Louisville adults was almost 24 percent, down slightly from previous years but still well above the national average. And nearly two-thirds of Louisville adults were overweight or obese.

Nesbitt says, among other things, she plans to work with the Metro Housing Authority
on smoke-free policies in public housing, and with the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown movement on nutrition and disease prevention programs.

She also wants to hear from citizens about the health care services they receive.

“And understanding if we have a match of the services that are available with the community need. And the best way for us to do that is to go directly to the community and understand why they’re seeking care in the way that they are, or not seeking care,” she said.

The department has scheduled four public meetings this month:

Each meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will last for approximately one hour.

Tuesday, March 13
NIA Center, 2900 W. Broadway

Thursday, March 15
Southwest Government Center, 7219 Dixie Hwy.

Tuesday, March 27
Worthington Fire Station #1

9514 Featherbell Blvd.

(in Norton Commons)

Prospect, KY

Wednesday, March 28
Okolona Branch of Louisville Free Public Library

7709 S. Preston Hwy.

Thursday, March 29
Greater Louisville Medical Society, 101 W. Chestnut St. (This meeting is targeted to physicians, leaders of community based organizations and business leaders and is cosponsored by the Greater Louisville Medical Society.)

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

City Unveils Two New ‘Healthy in a Hurry Stores’

Joined by Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., and members of the Louisville Metro Council, Mayor Greg Fischer today opened the sixth and seventh “Healthy in a Hurry” corner stores in two west Louisville neighborhoods where fresh fruits and vegetables are not readily available.

The initiative is part of the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement, which received a $7.9 million federal grant last year to address the lack food security in low-income areas.

The stores are located in the Chickasaw and Portland neighborhoods, where business owners have received federal funds to improve the locations and serve fresh produce.

The Chickasaw location is the Happy Food Mart owned by Muhammad Akbar, who is using approximately $17,000 in grant funds to buy signage, equipment, technical assistance and a first order of produce. The Portland neighborhood store is the Curtis Market, which is owned by James Mitchell, who is using approximately $8,000 to expand the selection of fresh produce and to market the store throughout the area.

Louisville Metro Department for Public Health and Wellness Director LaQuandra Nesbitt says the initiative has become an indispensable tool in creating a healthier city by putting fresh foods in poorer communities.

“This movement has had great momentum,” she says. “When the initiative was started it was seen as a solution to the food desserts that we know exist in west Louisville. And it takes quite a bit of time to secure the resources to have a large grocery chain locate into a particular neighborhood and so we have to find alternative solutions,” she says.

Local News Next Louisville Politics

Fischer Appoints New Health Department Director

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has announced the hiring of a new director of the city’s health department.

Fischer’s office issued this press release today:

LOUISVILLE (June 13, 2011) – The deputy director at one of the nation’s largest urban health departments has been tabbed by Mayor Greg Fischer to head the Louisville Metro Department for Public Health and Wellness.

Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt is deputy director of community health administration for the District of Columbia Department of Health. Fischer said she was selected from among many strong applicants in a nationwide search.

“Dr. Nesbitt is strongly qualified to lead our charge for making Louisville a much healthier city for all of our citizens regardless of economic status, race or ethnicity,” Fischer said. “Her experience and leadership at a major health department in one of our nation’s most challenging urban environments gives her unique qualifications for this position, and we are thrilled to add her to our team.”

Prior to joining the D.C. Health Department, Dr. Nesbitt held a top position at the University Of Maryland School of Medicine. She has extensive experience in providing health care services to patients including adolescents in urban areas. A practicing physician, Dr. Nesbitt’s academic interests include racial and ethnic disparities in health care and improving access to care for the uninsured and underinsured. She earned a Master of Public Health in Health Care Management from the Harvard School of Public Health.

“I’m tremendously excited about this new opportunity,” Nesbitt said. “Louisville is a wonderful city, but one with significant health challenges. I look forward to working with community leaders and partners to continue making Louisville a healthier place for all its citizens.”

In January Fischer appointed a seven-member search committee to replace Dr. Adewale Troutman who left Louisville last year for a new position in Florida. The search committee included William Altman, Chair of the Louisville Board of Health. “Based on my interactions with Dr. Nesbitt, we have found a leader who not only can continue the momentum we have but bring to Louisville fresh ideas and energy to make us world class in public health and health equity.”

Dr. Nesbitt, who will be paid $180,000 annually, also will have a faculty appointment at the University of Louisville School of Public Health. Louisville Metro Government and UofL will split Dr. Nesbitt’s salary and benefits equally.

“Dr. Nesbitt brings a wide-range of expertise to this community,” said Richard Clover, MD, dean, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences. “We look forward to collaborating with her as we prepare the next generation of public health professionals, further the mission of our school, and tackle the public health issues that so dramatically impact the people of Kentucky and our region.”

Fischer praised the work of Dr. Matt Zahn who has served as acting health director for the past seven months. “I want to offer heartfelt thanks to Dr. Zahn for the strong, focused leadership he has provided at the health department that has resulted in significant achievements and continued progress.”

Nesbitt will take over a health department that has achieved a growing national reputation for programs that target obesity, nutrition, and active living including the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement. In 2010, the department was selected by the Centers for Disease Control to receive a $7.9 million Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant. Under the grant, the Public Health and Wellness Department is engaged with community organizations on initiatives for improving access to nutritional food and awareness of healthier eating, encouraging exercise and fitness and reducing health risks such as smoking and obesity.