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June 20, 2013

Wellness Wednesdays

Weekly health fair held at First Baptist Church in Barbourville

CORBIN — By John L. Ross, Staff Writer

It’s about being healthy and staying that way — that’s the goal for “Wellness Wednesdays.” Knox County Health Director Susan Liford explained recently that the county has available for residents the “once-a-week” health fair at First Baptist Church on Main Street in Barbourville, near the downtown court square — dubbed “Wellness Wednesday.”

Liford said the program includes many activities, including learning and participating in Zumba, walking, body recall and an “Insanity” workout.

Participants are also welcome to walk or run outside the facility. The Wellness Wednesday event runs 5:15-7 p.m. each Wednesday through July 31.

“This fair is for the community as a whole,” Liford said. “But we expect quite a few seniors there.”

Several attended Wednesday’s event, which featured a presentation by Dr. Frankie Abner, a pharmacist with Knox Professional Pharmacy in Barbourville.

She spoke to the group about prescription medication safety.

“In America, every 19 minutes someone dies from an unintentional drug overdose,” Abner said. “Just because it’s prescribed, (people assume) that it’s safe.”

She added that people often will offer their doctor-prescribed solutions to their friends or even strangers when they complain of a similar ailment.

“It is not ever safe to take medication (of someone else) where a doctor (can’t) monitor you,” she said, adding people should ask their doctors or pharmacists about various types of medication.

She also discussed how often drug addiction problems with people begin by them taking their family members’ prescriptions. She added this is also true for many teen and young adult addicts.

Abner offered other prescription medication advice concerning storage. Most commonly those taking prescriptions store them either in the kitchen area or in a bathroom medicine cabinet. “

Not only does that provide open access to prescription medication, it also could affect the effectiveness of the medicine itself.

“(Often) a drug addiction starts in their own home in the medicine cabinet,” Abner said, adding it easily leads to illegal drug abuse “down the road.”

She further added that while parents “may trust their own kids,” they may not know their children’s friends so well.

But she also said there’s another reason to be particular about medication storage.

“It is recommended not to store medicine where it can be exposed to heat or steam, like in the kitchen or bathroom,” Abner said. “It can break down medicines easy.”

Another prescription medication pointer Abner discussed Wednesday involved medication disposal.

She said that while the practice used to be to flush old medicine down the toilet or wash it down the sink, tests on public water has shown evidence where some of those prescription ingredients are not fully filtered out.

However, with the federal government’s National Take-Back program to collect those medicines, patients have a better way to dispose of their excess or expired medication.

There are drop-off points in Barbourville and Knox County for those old prescriptions, including the Knox County Sheriff’s Department and the Barbourville Police Department.

However, if the best solution is for home disposal, Abner suggested crushing the pills and mixing them with kitty litter or coffee grounds so to avoid people rummaging through the trash and finding those medicines. She also advised to remove all personal prescription information from any bottle prior to disposal.

Liford recently discussed other ways Knox Countians can take part in making the county healthier. She said the health department plans to reach out to county residents through a health survey.

“We want to know what they perceive to be the top three health problems in our community,” she said. “When we complete the survey, we’re going to compile the information and try to come up with a solution.”

She added the health department knows what health issues are at the forefront for the county.

“But the community may perceive there to be different problems,” Liford said, adding two problems determined through the survey will be specifically targeted for solutions. “We really are trying to do better things for the county – and that was long before we knew this particular study was done.”

“When we determine what the priorities are, then we’re going to get better,” Liford said.

Wellness Wednesday also has meals available for participants. For more information on this program, call 606-546-3636.

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