Dr. Steve Says…

Don’t be a Honeybee


Dr. Steven J. Stack, the new commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, has only been on the job since February of 2020.

And he walked straight into a corona-crisis.

Dr. Stack lives in Lexington and is still a practicing emergency physician at St. Joseph East.

In recent press conferences, he became quickly known for his easy-to-understand explanations of how the coronavirus spreads — “like buckshot” (an infected person sneezes into a crowd) — and “like a honeybee” (a C19-positive person buzzes from door to door, unknowingly spreading the virus).

When asked if professional service providers (e.g., hair, nails, etc) could still visit their clients in their homes, Dr. Stack immediately identified that as the potential “honeybee method” of spreading the virus.

His colleagues at St. Joseph East quickly came up with a “don’t be a honeybee” t-shirt in his honor.

In 2006, Stack became the first emergency physician elected to the American Medical Association (AMA) board of trustees, subsequently serving as board chair and in 2015-2016 as the youngest president since 1854.

In his 2015 inaugural address to the AMA in Chicago, he said, “The emergency department is the great equalizer in the healthcare system…You quickly realize illness does not discriminate.”

Stack has served as medical director of multiple emergency departments, including St. Joseph East (Lexington), St. Joseph Mt. Sterling (rural eastern Kentucky) and Baptist Memorial Hospital (Memphis, TN). He has more than 18 years of emergency medicine, administrative and clinical practice experience in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

“The emergency department is the great equalizer in the healthcare system…You quickly realize illness does not discriminate.”

In 2018, Stack joined The University of Tennessee Haslam College of Business as adjunct professor. In this role, he lectures on healthcare policy and the mechanics of advocacy to physicians in the Physician Executive MBA program as well as to both physician and non-physician healthcare leaders enrolled in executive education programs.

Dr. Steven J. Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health

Stack has focused experience in health information technology (IT). A nationally recognized advocate, he bridges bedside care with governmental policy and served on numerous federal advisory committees for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology from 2010 – 2016. Additionally, he served from 2012 – 2016 as board member and secretary of eHealth Initiative, a Washington, DC-based non-profit association improving health care through the advancement of health IT.

Stack is married and the proud father of one daughter. His wife, Tracie is a UK graduate and a practicing allergy/asthma/ immunology specialist. She holds both MD and PhD academic credentials.

For fun, Stack enjoys the study of classical Greek and Roman and U.S. presidential history, photography, and traveling with his family.

His press conferences are often peppered with references to his alma mater, Holy Cross, and his joy in the study of Latin.



This article also appears on page 10 of the April 2020 print edition of Hamburg Journal.

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