HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - An Eastern Kentucky football legend was honored today for his fund raising work for two Kentucky hospital chains.
Former number one overall NFL draft pick Tim Couch says he is no stranger to heart disease. He lost his father to the illness two years ago. He says helping to expand cardiac services in Eastern Kentucky was a no-brainer.
"I think we've all been touched by someone in our family or a friends who's been touched by heart disease, so it's certainly a problem," Couch said.
Officials with UK Healthcare and Appalachian Regional Healthcare thanked the Leslie County native for his fund raising work last year as part of the Keeneland/Maker's Mark signature charitable bottle series. The funding will go to UK's Gill Heart Institute, which will begin operating in ARH hospitals within the next few months.
"They worked with us and our foundation last year at Keeneland," said ARH president and CEO Jerry Haynes, "and it was very successful, and we're here to express our appreciation to them for their generosity."
Hospital officials say UK Healthcare and ARH have worked together for years, and this latest announcement represents a strengthening of that bond. They say it's all designed to provide better cardiac care for people here in the Mountains.
"We're going to try to improve services in Whitesburg. We're going to try to improve services in Harlan. If you need to go to the next level you'll be able to go to ARH, and only if it's really very critical, very complex, we have to come to Lexington," said Dr. Michael Karpf, executive vice president for health affairs at the University of Kentucky.
The expansion comes as Hazard ARH works to complete its $47 million expansion project. Hospital officials say the new 100,000 square foot patient tower will create 150 new healthcare jobs.
Officials say the fundraiser brought in about $250,000 for the two hospital chains.