December, 2007

SOMC Nurse On Keeping the Faith: Surviving Cancer in Appalachia

Delrita Gilliland, Registered Nurse at the Southern Ohio Medical Center, recently presented at The Science of Cancer Health Disparities Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Co-sponsored by the National Cancer Institute’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities in conjunction with the American Association for Cancer Research, this conference attracted more than 600 attendees including scientists, health professionals from academia, industry, government and the community. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the latest finding and to stimulate the development of new research in cancer health disparities.

At the plenary session on disparities in cancer survivorship, Gilliland shared insight about cancer survivorship issues in the Appalachian community through her “Keeping the Faith: Surviving Cancer in Appalachia” presentation.

Gilliland was asked to present because of her personal experience as a cancer survivor, along with her experience working with cancer survivors at SOMC and in the community. Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989, she has been a strong advocate for breast health as a Reach to Recovery volunteer, Special Touch instructor, Relay for Life committee member, and an American Cancer Society Board member.

In 1994, Ms. Gilliland became a charter member and has continuously served on the Fight Cancer, Save Lives Coalition, a community-based coalition formed by the Appalachia Leadership Initiative on Cancer.

SOMC’s Stevens Certified Diabetes Educator

Stacey Stevens, RN, CDE, has received her certification from the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators as a Certified Diabetes Educator.

Stevens has been with SOMC for 10 years and has been the Diabetes Education Coordinator for the past fiveyears. She received her associate’s degree in Nursing from Shawnee State University. A native of Scioto County, she resides in Lucasville with her husband, Jerry, and their two children.

Achieving certification status demonstrates to people with diabetes and employers that the health care professional possesses distinct and specialized knowledge, thereby promoting quality of care for people with diabetes.

For more information about SOMC Diabetes Education, contact Stevens at (740) 356-8670 or by email at

SOMC Supports Education Service Center

Southern Ohio Medical Center recently donated $3,000 to the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center. The money will support several educational programs, including the Scioto County Science Day, Scioto County High School Honors, Music Festival, Pre-College, summer programs and the Scioto County High School Art show. Shown are (from left) Brett Justice, Personnel director at the center, Sharee Price, Gifted Services coordinator, and Jennifer Schackart, Public Relations specialist at SOMC.

Local Urologist Esham Prepares To Retire

“Do everything you can do and learn everything you can learn,” Dr. William Esham says. “That’s what I tell young doctors and young people in general.” When Dr. “Bill” Esham hangs up his lab coat at the end of December, he will retire from a decades-long urology practice helping thousands of people in the Portsmouth area and surrounding counties. The advice he now gives worked well for him starting out as a young physician in the early ‘70s.

A son of long-time Vanceburg, Ky., physician Elwood Esham and his wife, Ruth, Bill spent the last part of high school and his college years in private religious schools (“It was my mother’s last attempt to set me straight,” he jokes). He began his medical career after undergraduate studies at Andrews University in Michigan and medical school at the University of Louisville. He served his country as a U.S. Coast Guard Flight Surgeon before practicing in Alabama, where he worked as a family doctor. Burning the midnight oil, he did everything, including delivering babies, and followed his own advice to do as much as he could and learn as much as he could.

Along the way, he also married a young nurse, Marika, originally from Austria, and they would have two children. “I got a ‘67 Mustang convertible a few weeks before we got married,” he jokes. “I told her I’d keep her as long as I had the car.”

His older brother, Richard, was also a practicing physician in Alabama, but Bill decided to return to his roots, and joined the practice in Vanceburg with his father’s successor, Dr. Cliff Jennings. He worked in general practice in his hometown until 1976, when he happened to be looking at specialty practice possibilities while talking with some of his former classmates at the Kentucky Medical Association in Louisville.

“I had a real interest in orthopedics,” he admits, “but in Louisville I was encouraged to apply for an opening there in a urology program. It was a small staff, but several of the people had been classmates or associates of mine from my medical school days and they knew my work ethic.”

Four years later he returned to the Portsmouth area, joined the practice of local urologists Don Appleton and John Walker, and began a 27-year span of caring for the urology needs of area residents. While brother Richard still practices in Alabama, his brother George is also a practicing physician at Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth. His sister, Faith Esham, is a world-famous operatic soprano and an adjunct professor at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, New Jersey. Their mother, Ruth, is still a resident of the area.

Over the years Bill has seen many new approaches and advances in his field. “There have been many refinements,” he says. “Probably the most significant thing was the development of shock wave lithotripsy, in which kidney stones can be shattered non-surgically. Prior to that, we had to cut the patient open to get stones out.”

He cites surgical refinements such as laparoscopic nephrectomy (kidney removal) and endoscopic improvements as critically important, in which smaller, less invasive wounds are needed to perform operations.

“We see a lot more prostate cancer now because we have much better ways to detect it early,” he says. “The difference now is, when I started practice, 75 percent of prostate patients in my office had inoperable cancer. Now 90 percent of prostate patients have treatable conditions because of earlier detection.”

When not caring for others, Bill has found time for his love of the outdoors through fishing, golf, farming and hunting. While plenty of photographs and some impressive trophies show his achievements, the centerpiece of his outdoor experiences is a seven-foot Alaskan grizzly now posed and mounted on a rock in his office. She brings more than a few wide eyes among visitors.

Today Bill and Marika’s children, Kristina and Bill E., are a pediatrician and a cardiac anesthesiologist, respectively, and he has two granddaughters. He doesn’t plan to slow down when his practice closes, looking forward to his traditional outdoor interests and possibly a few new ones.

“I want to thank everyone for trusting me to care for them over the years,” he says. “It has been the greatest honor, to be entrusted to help people, and I’ve made many friends and close colleagues along this journey.”

SOMC Nurses Gain Assault Examiner Certification

Registered nurses Betsy Marsh, BSN, CEN, EMT-P, Luann Webb, EMT-B and Cathy Clark, CEN, EMT-P (pictured l to r), all of the Southern Ohio Medical Center Emergency Department, recently gained certification after successfully completing the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners adult/adolescent (SANE-A) certification exam. The SANE program, created by the International Association of Forensic Nurses, provides individualized, professional and forensic care to sexual assault survivors. Nurses with SANE-A certification may also serve as expert consultants and witnesses in support of those who may have been sexually assaulted. Nurses of Emergency Services at SOMC have been a part of the program since 2001.

SOMC Hospice Holds Life Celebration

About 400 people attended the annual SOMC Hospice Celebration of Life Dec. 2 at the SOMC Friends Center honoring those terminally ill patients who died in the past year who had been cared for in the program. Candles were lit on the stage of the Friends Center honoring the patients. SOMC Hospice is part of Southern Ohio Medical Center and provides services and support for the terminally ill and their loved ones.

Eagles Support Hospice

SOMC Hospice recently accepted the third installment of a donation from the Portsmouth Eagles Aerie 4285, who selected Hospice as their charity for the year. The installment of almost $7,000 was presented by Eagle Arnie Smith (left) to Sheila Riggs of Hospice and brings the total monetary support by the Eagles Aerie 4285 for the program to approximately $20,000. The SOMC Hospice Center is open on the East Campus of Southern Ohio Medical Center, providing services and support for the terminally ill and their loved ones.

SOMC Cardiopulmonary Rehab Patients Honored

About 100 patients and family members attended a luncheon honoring graduates and patients of Southern Ohio Medical Center’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program. The holiday lunch was presented Dec. 4 at the SOMC Friends Center, where staff members of the program and other SOMC officials served the guests lunch and presented gifts sponsored by area businesses. Shown above, heart patients Joe Scurlock and Beth Bullock, who are featured in SOMC’s public messages about heart health and their experiences as heart patients at SOMC, are joined by the rehab team at the event.