Primary Care Practices in Rural Kentucky Help Their Patients Prevent Deadly Lung Cancer

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 17, 2019 – Center for Sustainable Health Care Quality and Equity announced that physicians, physician assistants, and nursing champions from four primary care practices in rural Kentucky successfully worked to refer their at-risk patients for early lung cancer screening and tobacco cessation counseling. Hailing from some of the hardest-hit regions in the nation – lung cancer is the second most common U.S. cancer – 218,527 new cases in 2015 year – and the number one cancer killer, with 153,718 victims; the death count is highest in Kentucky (64.3 per 100,000, age-adjusted) – these health care champions worked to provide hope for their patients facing this risk: For current and former heavy tobacco smokers, early screening for lung cancer using low dose computed tomography (LDCT) affords a major breakthrough in terms of improving the odds of survival.

The four practices participated in a Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation-funded program implemented by the Center for Sustainable Health Care Quality and Equity (SHC), a national organization dedicated to promoting health in underserved communities and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF), and led by Dr. Gregory A. Hood, MD, MACP, FRCP, Lexington, KY internist, past Governor of the American College of Physicians, and principal investigator.  A group of local and national experts and stake-holders also helped advise the project (see below).

The pilot project showed a significant impact on care: Each practice site successfully modified its EHR to identify patients that meet nationally recommended standards for a referral to LDCT lung cancer screening. And each practice was able to double their screening referrals in just six months.

“It is exciting to see physicians and their teams providing care for Kentuckians reducing the odds of lung cancer death,” says Dr. Hood. “We have a long way to go, but I know we are all doubly committed to working with our patients and communities to prevent death from lung cancer and promote health.”

Practice champions are spreading the word in Kentucky and around the nation about how to improve lung cancer screening and tobacco cessation efforts. The original practice teams will be working with Dr. Hood, the KY-ACP, and SHC to expand training to other parts of Appalachia beginning this fall. For more information or to sign-up for the initiative please contact Dr. Laura Lee Hall at

About the Center for Sustainable Health Care Quality and Equity

The National Minority Quality Forum’s (NMQF’s) Center for Sustainable Health Care Quality and Equity (SHC) provides clinical teams and community leaders education, training and support in:

(1) Identifying gaps in health care and outcomes for all disease conditions, and (2) Implementing evidence-based quality improvement education and community- and patient-engagement.

SHC focuses on primary care in underserved and vulnerable communities, including people of color, rural populations, older adults, children, people with disabilities, and people with limited financial means, health literacy, and other social risks, identified through NMQF’s state-of-the-art health geographic information system (GIS).

Advisory Group
Chair: Gregory A. Hood, MD, MACP, Drs. Borders, Hood & Associates
Robert L. Bratton, MD, MMM, CEO, Lexington Clinic
Phillip F. Bressoud, MD, MS, FACP, Past Governor, Kentucky Chapter of American College of Physicians and University of Louisville Healthcare
Craig H, Burrows, MD, FAAFP, Program Director, University of Kentucky Rural (Morehead) Family Medicine Residency Program, Program Director, St. Claire Family Medicine Osteopathic Residency, Family Medicine Clerkship Director University of Kentucky/St Claire Regional RPLP
Hilary Deskins, RN, BSN, Manager, Cancer Prevention Services at KentuckyOne Health, Louisville, Kentucky
Morel Jones, MPH, PMP, Project Manager for Kentucky LEADS at the Kentucky Cancer Program
Ruth Mattingly, MPA, Co-Investigator, Kentucky LEADS, Assistant Director for Special Initiatives, Kentucky Cancer Program, University of Louisville
Attef Mikhail, MD, FACR, Radiology Associates of Northern Kentucky
Timothy W. Mullett, MD, FACS, Professor of Surgery, University of Kentucky, College of Medicine
Ashok Patel, MD, FACR, Appalachian Regional Healthcare
Kayla D. Rose, MA, RRT, PMP, Director of Practice Improvement Programs, Kentucky Primary Care Association
Tony Weaver, MD Assistant Dean, University of Kentucky Morehead Regional Site St. Claire Regional Medical Center Morehead
Joseph G. Weigel, MD, MACP, Program Director of Internal Medicine Lake Cumberland Medical Associates Somerset
Laura J. Zimmermann, MD, MS, FACP, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

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Media Contact
Laura Lee Hall, Ph.D.