‘Nurses News’ Category


SOMC Nurses Receive Scholarships

Kelly Lawson RN, OCN and Kristie Meeker RN, BSN, OCN, nurses of the Cancer Center at Southern Ohio Medical Center, have each been named recipients of a 2008 Congress Scholarship for $1,000 from the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS).

To receive the award, participants were asked to create an essay based on how they respond to patient- and family-care challenges within their clinical profession. The scholarship will be used to cover registration fees and travel to and from the ONS 33rd Annual Congress, which will take place May 15 – 18 in Philadelphia, Penn.

A Portsmouth native, Lawson is a graduate of Shawnee State University. She has been a part of the nursing staff at SOMC since 1990 and is currently Breast Health Navigator and Clinical Manager of Radiation Oncology at the Cancer Center.

Meeker is a graduate of Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio. She received her bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Shawnee State University and started working at SOMC in 1999. She currently resides in the Minford area.

SOMC Ranked Among Top 25 Percent of Home Health Providers in Nation

Southern Ohio Medical Center has been named to the 2007 HomeCare Elite, a compilation of the most successful Medicare-certified home health care providers in the United States.

“SOMC has made a commitment to bringing medical care to those patients in the home with the level of quality that puts their care among the best anywhere,” SOMC Home Care Director Karen Thompson said.

“This annual review identifies the top 25 percent of agencies, ranked by an analysis of performance measures in quality outcomes, quality improvement and financial performance.”

The 2007 HomeCare Elite also indicates those providers who are included in the Top 100 and Top 500 of providers nationwide. The data used for this analysis was compiled from publicly available information.

SOMC has maintained one of Ohio’s most well-established and experienced home care programs in the state. This is the second time SOMC Home Care has been named to the list.

“We applaud the success of all the providers named to the 2007 HomeCare Elite,” said Bill Bassett, Senior Director of Market Strategy at OCS, Inc. “Being noted as one of the top performers in the nation in this very competitive environment shows that SOMC is dedicated to quality and performance.”

The 2007 HomeCare Elite is the only performance recognition of its kind in the home health industry. The 2007 HomeCare Elite is brought to the industry by OCS, Inc., the leading provider of healthcare informatics and DecisionHealth, publisher of home care’s most respected independent newsletter Home Health Line. The entire list of the 2007 HomeCare Elite agencies can be viewed by visiting the OCS web site at www.ocsys.com.

SOMC Nurse: Get Screened, Don’t Ignore Your Health


As a nurse and director of Inpatient Services at Southern Ohio Medical Center, Valerie DeCamp always puts the patients first, taking care of their needs and stressing to them the importance of good health, proper health management and regular health screenings.

But last year DeCamp learned that sometimes it’s best to take your own advice before it’s too late.

“As a nurse, you tend to take better care of others than you do yourself,” she said. “I never took the time to stop and think that there could be something wrong with me, even when others noticed that there was.”

At age 48, DeCamp always assumed she was too young to develop a chronic illness. Though her family had a strong history of diabetes, stroke and other heart disease, they had always been older when they were diagnosed.

“I knew I hadn’t been feeling as normal as usual, but I was in denial. I have a high-stress job and figured it came with the territory,” she said. “Besides, I treat tons of patients all the time and I thought I would definitely know if something was wrong with me.”

But DeCamp was completely unaware of her declining health. In fact, it was almost a fluke that she realized she was sick at all.

“Last year I volunteered to help out at the SOMC Dance with Heart event, escorting people around the different screenings that were scheduled,” she said. “Toward the end of the evening I decided to go through a screening myself, just to see what I would find out.”

After completing a diabetes screening, DeCamp learned that her fasting glucose was 280 – more than 200 points above normal. She immediately knew that she was not okay and called the doctor to find out more.

“Once I met with my doctor, he started me on diabetes medication and within two days I began to feel better,” she said. “I really didn’t know how bad I had felt until I started feeling better.”

After a year of proper medication, exercise and healthier diet and life choices, DeCamp’s A1C is below six and her triglycerides are 34 – nearly ten times lower than they used to be. Best of all, she’s happier and healthier than she’s felt in years and takes every opportunity to encourage other nurses to take the advice they give to patients time and time again.

“Get tested, go to a screening, know your numbers. Don’t ignore your health,” she said. “I didn’t do the things we’re always telling our patients to do and it could have cost me my life. It’s a blessing to be healthy, so don’t take advantage of it. Sometimes you just have to put yourself first.”

Free health screenings will be open to the public during this year’s SOMC Sing with Heart event from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday Feb. 28 at the SOMC Friends Community Center, 1202 18th St., Portsmouth. Screenings for cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference and heart risk analysis will be available and attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy karaoke and music from local groups all evening long. Pre-registration is preferred, however walk-ins are welcome. To register or for more information, please call 740-356-7665.

SOMC named to FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”

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“Attaining this honor, along with our recent nursing Magnet recognition status, helps us recruit and retain the best medical professionals in the nation,” Vicki Noel, vice president of Human Resources at SOMC, said.

“This award means that our employees are very happy to work here, care about the organization and are most likely to provide better patient care.”

Noel added that the award is based on a detailed review of an organization’s workplace, along with the opinions of the employees.

“As with our recent Magnet recognition status, it is uplifting for an organization in our community to receive such an honor,” Randy Arnett, president and CEO of SOMC, said. “It only further proves that SOMC houses some of the best employees in our nation.”

The judging was based largely on random survey of SOMC employees, along with an examination of certain SOMC workplace attributes such as camaraderie, fairness, credibility, pride and respect, Noel explained.

SOMC was evaluated against various organizations across the United States including large corporations and other health care organizations, she said.

In the next few weeks, SOMC will receive a feedback report and the ranking of the organization based on data accumulated from the evaluation process. Noel said SOMC is always searching for methods of gathering information to make adjustments and improvements in work life.

“Listening to our employees is important” she said. “Based on feedback from our employees, through surveys and other methods such as this, we have made changes to make SOMC a great place to work. We continue to listen and learn from those who make the greatest impact – our SOMC team.”

SOMC recognized as a Magnet hospital

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Southern Ohio Medical Center is the first hospital in the tri-state region to achieve the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) highest honor, the Magnet designation, recognizing national excellence in nursing. Only four percent of hospitals in the U.S. can claim this distinction.

“In the health care profession, Magnet recognition is a huge honor,” Claudia Burchett, vice president of Patient Services and chief nursing officer, said. “It serves as external recognition of the exceptional care that we provide to our patients and their families. Magnet not only demonstrates excellence in nursing, but also recognizes the teamwork throughout the organization to support quality of care, shared decision-making, interdisciplinary working relationships and our commitment to putting patients first in everything we do. This achievement is the result of more than 30 months of preparation and years of commitment to quality and excellence.”

The ANCC awarded SOMC the prestigious Magnet award after reviewing nearly 2,000 pages of submitted documentation demonstrating achievements in patient care, nurse satisfaction, quality improvement and nursing research. This was followed by a four-day on-site inspection by Magnet appraisers that included visits to all patient care areas and interviews with hundreds of nurses, employees, physicians, and community members.

“This has been a long and wonderful journey touching every discipline in our organization,” Valerie DeCamp, SOMC director of Inpatient Services and co-leader of the SOMC Magnet journey, said. “The result is a demonstration to our patients, employees, physicians, volunteers, community members, and current and future nurses of our commitment to quality.”

According to the ANCC, statistics show that nurses who work in Magnet-designated hospitals are more satisfied with their job and the care they provide. Magnet hospitals also have an increased retention rate for nurses — an important factor in light of today’s nursing recruitment challenges.

“Nurses want to work in a place where they are supported to provide the best quality care,” Karen Thompson, SOMC director of Home Health Services and co-leader of the SOMC Magnet journey, said. “For the past two years, SOMC has been named one of the best places to work in the state of Ohio. We have also had nurse retention rates at 95 percent, the envy of most in the nation, and employee satisfaction scores that place us at the top 1 percent in the country. These are the types of things that make us a Magnet organization — and make us proud.”

Burchett added that physicians are also attracted to Magnet hospitals. “It’s a sign to them that the hospital is dedicated to hiring and keeping the most qualified nurses,” she said. “We provide an environment where education is vital, and we promote ongoing education, certifications and nursing research.”

The ultimate goal of Magnet recognition, however, is a demonstration to patients of the quality care provided by Magnet hospitals. Independent studies show patients who receive care at Magnet hospitals have a shorter length of stay and higher satisfaction rates. According to ANCC, “Magnet recognition provides consumers with the ultimate benchmark to measure the quality of care they can expect to receive.”

The Magnet Recognition Program was developed by the ANCC in 1994 to recognize health care facilities that provide the very best in professional nursing care. The 14 “Forces of Magnetism” that distinguish Magnet organizations include an environment that promotes excellence in interdisciplinary teamwork, research, education and patient care. SOMC demonstrated excellence in all 14 Forces to earn this award.

The ANCC is a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association and is the largest and most prominent nursing credentialing organization in the U.S.

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 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 First Hospital Named To ‘America’s Safest Companies’

For the first time, Occupational Hazards has recognized a healthcare facility as one of America’s Safest Companies.

Southern Ohio Medical Center has earned the honor through the organization’s all-encompassing approach to create a safe and healthy workplace for its 2,300 employees.

“Safety is our first strategic value,” says Penny Cooper, director of Risk Management and Safety Services. “We’re very focused on safety.”

Occupational Hazards is a news organization that informs safety, health and industrial hygiene professionals in the manufacturing, construction, and service sectors about trends, management strategies, regulatory news and new products that help them provide safe and healthy work sites.

Every year, the 222-bed hospital in Portsmouth admits about 13,000 patients, performs 12,000 surgeries and handles almost 80,000 emergency cases. Through it all, SOMC is dedicated to not only taking care of patients’ needs, but ensuring that employees are kept safe and healthy, as well. Safety is listed first among SOMC’s strategic values, including the promise that the facility “will build and sustain an exceptionally safe organization.”

As part of SOMC’s determination to go above and beyond expected safety policies, the organization has implemented a random audit program, an ergonomics team, a safety leadership team, a safety hotline and a healthy partners program. It’s all part of SOMC’s commitment to build a safe environment for the facility’s workers.

SOMC created the Safety Champions program in 2005 to facilitate cultural change within the facility and highlight the importance of workplace safety. Continually trained, safety champions’ responsibilities include serving as liaisons for other employees, raising departmental safety concerns and assisting continual monitoring and readiness. SOMC has about 200 champions in the program.

Since the safety champions program has been in place, SOMC has reduced total recordable injuries by more than 30 percent, has reduced workers’ compensation costs by more than 9 percent, has improved compliance with external governing bodies and has won several safety awards.

As a current member of the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Mentor Program, SOMC is taking steps to gain VPP Star status. Management believes achieving this goal can help SOMC continue to save lives, avoid worker injuries, reduce insurance and litigation and raise worker morale.

SOMC even has partnered with VPP Star status site Turner Construction for the facility’s $110-million expansion. Cooper says SOMC didn’t want to just hire a construction company as an employee; they wanted a company with a proven safety record to act as a partner in this extensive project.

Employees are also rewarded and honored for creating new ideas on safety issues. When a nurse noticed that SOMC’s medication system placed the most-used drugs at the bottom, causing staff to repeatedly bend over, she submitted her concern to the Ideas program. This incentives program rewards employees who submit safety-related ideas or solutions that are approved by the safety leadership team. Thanks to the Ideas program and the nurse’s observation, the problem was solved. Now, the most commonly used drugs are located within easy reach.

“It changed the whole system,” Cooper says.

It also shows how encouraging employee input can affect an organization’s safety culture. By putting safety first, SOMC has become one of the few healthcare facilities to stand out as a safety star.

SOMC Nurses Receive Oncology Certification

Kelly Lawson, Connie Wolf and Sheryl Grooms, registered nurses of the Cancer Center at Southern Ohio Medical Center (pictured above l to r), recently received Oncology certification (OCN) from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC).

Lawson is a graduate of Shawnee State University and has been part of the nursing staff at SOMC since 1990. She is currently Breast Health Navigator at the SOMC Cancer Center.

Wolf is a graduate of the Ashland Community College School of Nursing. She started working at SOMC in 1997 and has been a member of the SOMC Cancer Center staff since June 2005.

Grooms is a graduate of Shawnee State University and has been a part of the nursing staff at SOMC since 1978. She has worked in Medical Oncology at the SOMC Cancer Center for the last two years.

Other staff members at the SOMC Cancer Center who have received Oncology certification include Heather Ashley, RN, BSN; Debbie Bihl, RN, MSN, CNP; Rachelle Collins, RN; and Kristie Meeker, RN, BSN.