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Community health worker training to be offered

Messenger-Inquirer - 3/15/2019

March 15-- Mar. 15--Three organizations -- Owensboro Health, University of Kentucky College of Nursing and UK Healthcare Markey Cancer Center -- are partnering to spread the word about the importance of lung cancer screenings and tobacco cessation.

For about a year, Drs. Lovoria Williams and Maria Gomez, both affiliated with the UK College of Nursing, have been introducing the K-CARE project to the region through African-American and Latino churches and other community organizations. K-CARE stands for Kentucky Community Cancer Awareness Research and Education.

The community-engagement project seeks to improve cancer outcomes among racial minorities and medically underserved populations.

"Kentucky has the highest cancer rates in the nation, and it has the highest lung cancer deaths in the nation," Williams said.

Blacks, Latinos and medically underserved residents are usually the last to know about cancer screening recommendations, she said. However, those groups have higher rates of cancer and need to be informed.

Candidates for lung cancer screenings are at least 55 years old and have a 30 pack-year smoking history, which means they smoked a pack of cigarettes daily for 30 years. Also, they are still smoking or have quit within the past 15 years.

High-risk populations should be screened annually through the age of 74, according to the American Cancer Society.

As with all cancer, early detection is key to successful treatment and survival. CT scans provide a more detailed picture of the lungs than X-rays and do a better job of catching early-stage cancer.

Owensboro Health Regional Hospital has offered low-dose radiation CT scans since 2012.

The K-CARE project has been funded through October by the National Cancer Institute through the Markey Cancer Center. OH is a Markey Cancer Center affiliate.

From 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 30, a community health worker training session will take place at Owensboro Health Healthpark, 1006 Ford Ave. The K-CARE project hopes to train 25 local residents, who will carry a cancer education message throughout the community.

As of Thursday, 21 people already expressed interest, leaving only four available spots. A free lunch will be served.

Registrations will be taken through March 29. To register for one of the remaining seats, contact Williams at or Gomez at

"From these 25 people, we're going to select 10," Williams said.

The group of 10 will be K-CARE trained. Then, each trainee will seek 10 people in high-risk populations to teach about lung cancer screenings and tobacco cessation.

Williams used this community-engagement model for 10 years in Georgia. The program uses lay people to spread messages about healthy living.

"We're trying to expand the community health worker model to Kentucky," she said. "Without Owensboro Health, we could not have done this project."

Later this year, the results of this campaign will be released to the community, Williams said.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835,


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