Press Releases

CDC Director Makes House Call to Eastern Kentucky

Frieden, Rogers to visit Somerset, Hazard, Paintsville & Morehead

SOMERSET, KY -- U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) announced a first-ever SOAR Health Impact Series featuring Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with four events in Eastern Kentucky. Dr. Frieden and his team from the CDC will be on hand to discuss the high rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity in the region.

"While the diagnosis of illnesses like cancer and diabetes are heartbreaking, we know that hope is abundant. We've made great strides in awareness and prevention, but I am eager to hear Dr. Frieden's prescription for Eastern Kentucky and what we can do to help save lives and improve healthy living," said Rogers. "Dr. Frieden not only plans to share information with us, but wants to hear what medical professionals and health coalition leaders are already doing to change lives. This is our chance to speak directly to an international leader in healthcare about the long-time health disparities in our small corner of the world."

According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the prevalence of heart disease is 84% higher, diabetes is 47% higher and obesity is 26% higher in Kentucky's Appalachian region compared to the U.S. From 2006-2010, the region's lung cancer mortality rates were also the highest in the nation, 67% higher than the national average. 

Kentucky also has the third highest drug overdose mortality rate in the U.S, an issue that Rogers and Dr. Frieden have worked together to combat during Operation UNITE's National Rx Drug Abuse Summits each year. Rogers and Dr. Frieden are teaming up once again for the SOAR Health Impact Series to find solutions and celebrate local champions for awareness and prevention of the region's other major health challenges.

“Partnering with state and local health organizations and officials, such as the SOAR initiative and U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, helps the CDC to quickly and effectively respond to health threats,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “In working to improve health, we are all in this together. The more effectively we are connected, the more effectively we can address these opportunities. This visit to Kentucky is an important step.”

Along with Dr. Frieden will be Dr. Judith Monroe, the Deputy Director of the CDC who has Kentucky roots. Both of her parents were born and raised in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, and Dr. Monroe received her undergraduate degree from Eastern Kentucky University. She first practiced medicine in the Appalachian region and plans to share her insight during the three-day tour.

The Health Impact Series is part of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative launched by Congressman Rogers and Governor Steve Beshear. The SOAR Health working group is tasked with finding solutions to health problems in the region. The group's chair Dr. Nikki Stone, who is the Mobile Dental Outreach Director for the UK North Fork Valley Community Dental Outreach Program in Hazard, Kentucky will serve as a moderator of several panels during the events with the CDC.

"We are so thrilled that Dr. Frieden's visit coincides with the culmination of our summer-long series of 15 SOAR Health listening sessions across the region. We are looking forward to sharing with him the innovative ideas that our own people have suggested to improve the health of Eastern Kentuckians," said Dr. Stone. "These events afford the opportunity to shine a light on Eastern Kentucky and the heavy burden of disease that exists here in this pocket of Appalachia. His advice will help us shape our strategic plan for the future health of our region."

All of the events are free to the public, but registration is recommended to reserve meal service. To reserve your free spot at any of the four events, contact Cheryl Keaton at or 606-657-3218.

SOAR Health Impact Series

Monday, August 4th
6:30 p.m. reception & 7:00 p.m. dinner at the Center for Rural Development in Somerset

Tuesday, August 5th
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the Hazard Community and Technical College - First Federal Center in Hazard
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Ramada Paintsville Hotel and Conference Center in Paintsville 

Wednesday, August 6th
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the Morehead Convention Center in Morehead

Rogers has served Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District since 1981. With a focus on economic development, job creation, fighting illegal drugs and preserving Appalachia’s natural treasures, he has a reputation for listening to his constituents and fighting for the region he represents. For more information, visit or follow Rogers on Twitter @RepHalRogers or on Facebook @CongressmanHalRogers.