Medical professionals from across southern and eastern Kentucky are being asked to lend their expertise to UNITE’s new Medical Advisory Council.

The Council, which will advise UNITE’s Board of Directors, has conducted two organizational sessions in an attempt to bring a united front to fighting substance abuse-related concerns.

“We have made great progress,” noted Karen Kelly, UNITE director. “To fully craft a course of action to address drug addiction, workplace safety, diversion and other issues we need input from all sectors of the health care profession.”

Two meetings of the UNITE Medical Advisory Council are scheduled — Monday, December 13, and Thursday, January 20. These meetings will held be in the conference training room of the Big Sandy Area Development District, 100 Resource Drive, Prestonsburg. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. with the business meeting beginning at 6 p.m.

Van Ingram from the Kentucky Office on Drug Control Policy and Dave Hopkins from the KASPER (Kentucky All-Schedule Electronic Reporting) system will be special guests at the January meeting.

All medical professionals who are concerned about the drug problem are invited to attend these meetings. There is no charge for dinner, but an RSVP is requested to Sarah Flynn, UNITE director for Research and Community Outreach, at 1-866-678-6483 or

“We need the help and partnership of our medical community,” Kelly emphasized. “We need a diverse membership representing every medical field and from every geographic region.”

Better utilization of the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, increasing education about the disease of addiction, and providing greater collaboration and communication on available resources were all short-term priorities identified during a medical symposium held in March.

That meeting brought together more than 300 physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, social workers, substance abuse counselors, adult care providers, coalition representatives and other professionals to address prescription drug abuse and workplace safety.

As a result of the first two council workshop sessions, conducted with guidance from Eastern Kentucky University’s Facilitation Center, members have developed the following purpose: “To aid UNITE in the fight against drug abuse in our communities through a process of education, accountability, monitoring, and continual re-evaluation of what we do together as medical professionals.”

Those who have participated in at least one of the workshops are: Aida O. Agtarap, Mercy Clinic, Manchester and Jackson; Dr. Brian Banks, family practitioner, Owsley County; Registered Nurse Libby Carter, Department for Medicaid, Pikeville; Social Worker/CADC Rhonda Clark, Van Ark Behavioral Management and Hope In The Mountains, Prestonsburg; Dr. Anita Cornett, Frontier Nursing Service, Manchester; Dr. Jeff Fredrich, Pineville Community Hospital; Registered Pharmacist Earl Gill, London; Respiratory Therapist Anna Jones, Southern Kentucky AHEC, London; Respiratory Therapist James L. Jones, Baptist Regional Medical Center, Corbin; Dr. Bradley Moore, McDowell ARH Hospital, Floyd County; Registered Nurse Monica A. Oakley, Dark Horse Wisdom Center, Hazard; Registered Nurse Annice Welch, Floyd County Health Department; and Dr. Mitch Wicker, Hazard.