SOMC Rehab Tech Receives National Honor

Pam Higgins

When Pam Higgins fell and broke her arm on Nov. 2, 2002, it was a day and an accident that would change her life.

“I had to have two surgeries, and bone down to the elbow was replaced,” she said. “I have some limited mobility but (with such severe injury) that’s still pretty awesome.”

During 16 months of rehabilitation, Higgins got to know the staff of SOMC Outpatient Rehab very well.

“I would finish on a machine and just go ahead and set it up for the next patient, I became so familiar with the process,” she said.

After so much time spent as a patient in rehab, Higgins decided to pursue it as a career. She started as a secretary for SOMC Rehab Services. Ultimately she became a rehab technician and now works at SOMC’s rehab facility in Wheelersburg, as well as helping out in Lucasville.

Taking care of the patients, she uses some unique methods of encouragement during a process that can be painful and challenging for those overcoming their obstacles.

“I don’t like tears,” she said. “We had a lady here right before Christmas and I gave her a ‘Marvin the Martian’ doll and told her to hit him and choke him if she got frustrated. Sometimes I put a cone on my head and run around like a unicorn. I have been know to jump out of the hot pack room.”

Nominated by SOMC Outpatient Rehab Clinical Coordinator Emily Carson, Higgins has received the RehabCare Group, Inc.’s most distinguished award, the Trusheim Spirit Award.

“Higgins is openly committed to our values of excellence, integrity, teamwork and fun and stands out among her peers in the areas of leadership, customer service and communication,” John H. Short, Ph.D., RehabCare President and Chief Executive Officer, says.

Dr. Short said Higgins was selected for her “passion for personal and program development and her special brand of patient care.”

Higgins was honored during a dinner Dec. 11 in St. Louis, Missouri, a formal event to which she almost did not go. “I called my co-workers back home, panicking, and told them I was ready to slip back up to the hotel room and put on some jeans, but they talked me out of it,” she jokes.

Higgins says all of the credit goes to her co-workers, and that they really deserve the honor. She has pursued further education in her field and praises her co-workers for their support in her endeavors.

“I lost my husband in April and this group has really been my new family. These people teach me every day. My heart just glows when I leave here. You don’t get tired of it, the way the staff cares. Without them my job is nothing. They are truly awesome.”

Wheelersburg LIFE Center Celebrates Anniversary

The SOMC LIFE Center in Wheelersburg will celebrate its fifth anniversary Tuesday, Jan. 16 with an open house from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. offering tours and information about LIFE Center programs. To celebrate the anniversary all three LIFE Center locations will hold “$5 days,” offering $5 t-shirts, $5 dollar one-day passes, a $5 joining fee, and $5 or 5 percent off all memberships paid in full.

For more information about the LIFE Center call the Portsmouth facility at 356-7650, Wheelersburg at 574-4022 or Lucasville at 259-5433.

Cheatham Assistant Professor at OUCOM

Jason Cheatham, DO

Dr. Terry Johnson, Assistant Dean for Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, is proud to announce that Jason E. Cheatham, DO, has been appointed to the position of Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the college.

Dr. Cheatham’s appointment is effective through 2009. This is an appointment of the Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education (CORE) Group IV in the department of Family Medicine.

Dr. Cheatham received his medical degree from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency training at Akron General Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Akron.

Dr. Cheatham is a member of the Emergencies Services staff of Southern Ohio Medical Center and works with the Emergency Physicians Medical Group, which provides physician staffing at SOMC.

Coterie Presents DVD Players To Pediatrics

The Coterie Guild, part of the Friends of Southern Ohio Medical Center, recently donated new DVD/VCR systems for each room of the Pediatrics Department, in addition to a large selection of children’s movies for use by the patients. Shown at the presentation are (l-r) Pediatrics Nurse Peggy Pollitt, RN; Coterie members Beth Shoemaker, Bobbi Sammons, Jaime Madden and Brande Charles. Coterie works on several fundraising projects throughout the year to support programs within the SOMC Pediatrics Department.

Hamm Assistant Professor at OUCOM

Cindy Hamm, MD

Dr. Terry Johnson, Assistant Dean for Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, is proud to announce that Cindy Hamm, MD, has been appointed to the position of Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the college.

Dr. Hamm’s appointment is effective through 2009. This is an appointment of the Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education (CORE) Group IV in the department of Family Medicine.

Dr. Hamm attended The Ohio State University School of Medicine and completed her residency from Grant Medical Center in Columbus. She is a graduate of Shawnee State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology, as well as degrees in computer systems and business management from Ohio University.

Dr. Hamm is a member of the medical staff of Southern Ohio Medical Center and practices family medicine at SOMC’s Minford Family Practice.

PMHA Supports PAAC King Production

The Portsmouth Metropolitan Housing Authority purchased tickets to support The Portsmouth Area Arts Council’s Theatre IV live stage production of “I Have a Dream – The Life and Times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

The production will be held at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, at Shawnee State University’s Vern Riffe Center for the Arts.

Designed for grades 3 through adults, the dramatization chronicles King’s impact on society. Teachers wishing to bring school classes are requested to make reservations two weeks in advance (Jan. 16) by contacting PAAC Executive Director DeLynn Coppoletti at (740) 351-3642 or at dcoppoletti@shawnee.edu. Admission to the play is $3 per person; the noon performance is open to the public.

Pictured, PMHA Executive Director George Horsley presents PAAC Coppoletti with a donation for the tickets.

SOMC Wound Healing Center Welcomes First Patient


The SOMC Wound Healing Center, which has opened on the main campus of SOMC in the former cancer services building, welcomed the first patient, Norma Bauman, Friday, Jan. 5 for treatment. The center provides hyperbaric oxygen therapy and other state-of-the-art approaches to wound healing. A public open house will be held with tours and refreshments from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21 at the facility. Shown with first patient Bauman (seated) are (back, l-r) Center Program Director Michael Bradford, RT; Staff Nurse Gina Smith, RN; Office Coordinator Kathy Grubb; Hyperbaric Oxygen Technician Deanna Potter; and Clinical Manager Bill Lynd, RN.

Rooney Welcomed at SOMC

Richard Rooney, MD

Richard C. Rooney, M.D., a general and thoracic surgeon, has been welcomed to the medical staff of Southern Ohio Medical Center.

Dr. Rooney received his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati, where he also completed his residency and internship. He is board-certified with the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Mont Reid Surgical Society and the Scioto County Medical Society.

Dr. Rooney is practicing in Suite 102, Building C, 1735 27th St., on the Main Campus of Southern Ohio Medical Center. He can be reached at (740) 353-7881.

SOMC Wound Healing Center Opens

The SOMC Wound Healing Center

Southern Ohio Medical Center has opened the first hospital-based wound-healing service in the community.

The SOMC Wound Healing Center, located on the Main Campus of SOMC, is accepting patients by physician and self-referral. The facility offers a specialized staff and state-of-the-art equipment for treating wounds that are difficult to heal.

Dr. Sonja Lichtenstein

Sonja Lichtenstein, MD, a surgeon on staff at SOMC, is the Administrative Medical Director of the Wound Healing Center. Thomas L. Khoury, MD, a surgeon at SOMC, is the Medical Director of Research and Education for the Wound Healing Center.

Dr. Thomas Khoury

Treatment at the center follows clinical pathways established with National Healing, a network of more than 80 wound healing centers nationwide. The treatment approaches have resulted in national rates that include full healing in 16 weeks or less in the majority of cases.

Among treatment approaches at the SOMC Wound Healing Center, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is available with two treatment chambers on-site. Patients relax in the chamber while receiving pure oxygen, which stimulates the healing process in tissues where blood flow and oxygen delivery is poor.

Additionally, the Wound Healing Center provides advanced therapies including bio-engineered skin substitutes, vacuum-assisted closure and platelet technologies. Therapy for ulcers such as those that occur in the feet and legs is available. Treatments can also address conditions of the skin, bone and tissue that do not respond to traditional treatments.

A public open house is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m Sunday, Jan. 21 at the facility as well as for the SOMC Sleep Diagnostic Center opening in the same building, which formerly housed the hospital’s cancer services until 2004. Tours and refreshments are planned and visitors are encouraged to take a few minutes to meet the staff and see the facility.

For more information call the center at 356-8775.