Kentucky Commission on Race, Opportunity addressed by Pulley

November 20, 2022

Fulton County was represented in Frankfort at the November meeting of the Commission on Race and Access to Opportunity by Fulton Independent School District’s FRYSC coordinator Tracy Pulley, who spoke to legislators about lack of access to health care.

The Commission was created in 2021 to study disparities across the state in various sectors to determine needed improvements for minority communities.

Since Fulton County has the highest percentage of Black residents (24 percent) in the state, Pulley asked First District Representative Steven Rudy to include Fulton in the Commission’s research. Rep. Rudy connected Pulley with the Commission, and she was invited to speak.

Pulley asked legislators to consider ways to increase health care access for residents in a county bordered by Missouri and Tennessee, a community with no obstetrician, no dentist, where 47 percent of residents rely on medical cards accepted only in Kentucky. (note: Hillview Clinic in South Fulton does accept Kentucky medical cards.)

Although Fulton has a health department and the Jackson Purchase Primary Care Clinic, the latest County Health Rankings report ranks Fulton County at 116 out of 120 counties in overall health.

Pulley shared families’ struggles with finding dentists who accept new medical card patients, and the impact of the 2015 closing of Parkway Regional Hospital by a corporation now embroiled in a fraud lawsuit.

“Fulton is more like a metropolitan community compared with the other three river counties -- we have Walmart and McDonald’s; we are on I-69 -- but we’re frequently grouped together for regional programs, which does not always match with our needs,” said Pulley. “We have an excellent location and new economic opportunities coming . . . are there opportunities out there to increase health care access that can be connected to our county?”

When Senator David Givens asked what specific requests were needed, Pulley asked if Fulton could be considered for pilot projects like a small dental clinic.

She also asked if medical clinics could be established within the two school districts so more services can be provided by Dr. Alex Wright. who is now seeing in-need students monthly through a new Four Rivers Foundation program.

The Commission will use information gathered from these meetings to identify disparities across the state and make recommendations on needed policy / program changes.

Pulley said she hopes those recommendations include action that improves the lives of Fulton County residents.