SOMC Honors Diversity through Week-Long Celebration

Employees and community members are invited to join Southern Ohio Medical Center as they honor multiculturalism and the many achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during a week-long Diversity Celebration Jan. 16 – 20. The activities will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day in the cafeteria on the SOMC Main Campus, 1805 27th Street, Portsmouth.

“We always work to create a program that celebrates and strengthens the ideals set forth by Dr. King,” Deanne Malone, member of the SOMC MLK Committee, said. “Last year’s event was very well received, so this year we’ve planned to once again spotlight the history of the cultures that make up our very own community and SOMC family.”

Malone explained that as part of the celebration, attendees who dine in the cafeteria during the week will have the opportunity to sample and purchase food from a variety of cultures found in our local area, including Greece, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and the Middle East. Diners also will be invited to showcase their heritage through a hands-on activity featuring maps of the local region, country and world.

“Our goal is to create a visual of the diversity that makes up our workforce and community, giving us a tangible representation of how global we truly are,” Malone said.

Other opportunities to gain education about the customs, traditions and history of local cultures also will be available throughout the week and a prize drawing will take place Jan. 16.

“Our committee is honored to once again provide this type of educational service to our employees, patients and visitors and we hope our efforts will help improve the cultural understanding of our community,” she added. “The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. grow in meaning every year and we hope our celebration will do his message justice.”

For more information about the celebration, or for volunteer opportunities, please contact Deanne Malone at 740-356-8597.

Porter Township Fire Department donates to Cancer Center

The Porter Township Fire Department presented a donation to the Southern Ohio Medical Center Cancer Center after collecting funds through a two-year T-shirt selling campaign. Fire Department officials said that the check represented the commitment of the entire Porter Township community, not just the firefighters themselves. Shown wearing the “Firefighters for a Cure” T-shirts are members of the fire department with SOMC Cancer Center employees (front, l to r) Rachelle Collins, Norma White and Sara Pascal.

Stag Bar Donates to Hospice

The Portsmouth Stag Bar recently made a donation to Hospice of Southern Ohio Medical Center, funded by proceeds from the 27th Annual Butch Neal Memorial Shuffleboard Tournament. In addition to the shuffleboard tournament, the Stag Bar is also raising funds for SOMC Hospice through the purchase of their annual Memorial Shuffleboard T-shirts. T-shirts can be purchased at the bar and will remain on sale until Jan. 8. Pictured at the donation from left to right, Cliff Ward of the Portsmouth Stag Bar, Shiela Riggs of SOMC Hospice, and tournament winners Charles “Spud” Newman and Bob Kielmar.

SOMC LIFE Center helps woman get her life back

Three and a half years ago, Elaine Wilson had lap band surgery in hopes that it would help her lose weight. However, she didn’t end up with the results she had been hoping for.

“The first two weeks, I lost like 25 pounds. After that it was really slow and for a whole year, I didn’t lose anything,” Wilson said.

Wilson, who is 63-years-old, even took up swimming at Shawnee State University but still couldn’t shed her unwanted pounds. Then, when the university closed their pool for the summer, she decided to try a different approach.

“They closed the pool for the whole summer and I thought, ‘well I got to do something so I’m going to go to the SOMC LIFE Center,’” Wilson said.

She sums up what happened next in a single word: Amazing. Through diet and exercise, Wilson has lost more than 100 pounds. In addition to shedding weight, she has also shed a number of health problems. She breathes better, is on fewer medications and enjoys greater stamina.

“I had two bad knees and I couldn’t walk very far. In fact, when I started all this, I couldn’t walk more than a half of a block without sitting down,” Wilson said. “And now, I do probably nine or ten miles a day in the LIFE Center… It’s amazing what your body will do.”

Wilson credits the staff at the LIFE Center with making her transformation possible, and encouraged anyone else who wants to lose weight to follow her example.

“Set a goal and just go for it,” Wilson said. “If you need help, the trainers are there to help you and they will help you if you ask them. They’ve got great trainers there.”

Gary Coovert, administrative director of the SOMC LIFE Center, said they take pride in helping people like Wilson.

“All of us at the LIFE Center are motivated by our desire to help people like Elaine reach their personal goals,” Coovert said. “The relationships we build and the services we provide are very important to us. I hope we get the opportunity to help many more people over the course of this next year.”

Wilson has no doubt that the SOMC Life Center and its staff had a tremendous impact on her life. She said even her doctor has noticed and urged her not to stop her new routine. Not that Wilson intends on doing that anytime soon, anyway, of course.

“I really love it. I’ve met so many good friends there, I mean really good friends,” Wilson said. “It’s just great, I love it.”

SOMC Wins Press Ganey

Through the hard work of its more than 2,300 employees, Southern Ohio Medical Center was recently named a 2011 Distinctive Workplace Award winner by Press Ganey Associates. Pictured (l to r) are SOMC employees: Jason Swords of the Cardiovascular Operating Room; Sheryl Howard of Environmental Services; Shay Fry of Diagnostic Radiology; Jeannie Patty of Telecommunications; Terry Hall of Facilities; and Dr. Marion Hochstetler of SOMC Heart and Vascular Services.

SOMC Wins Press Ganey Distinctive Workplace Award

Southern Ohio Medical Center has been named a 2011 Press Ganey Distinctive Workplace Award winner by Press Ganey Associates.

SOMC is one of only 11 Press Ganey clients in the nation to receive this prestigious honor, which is given to organizations that have reached and sustained the 95th percentile in employee satisfaction scores for two consecutive reporting periods. SOMC currently stands at the 99th percentile for employee satisfaction.

“This is a great honor for our organization and recognizes our employees for their partnership and true commitment to outstanding quality service,” Ken Applegate, director of SOMC Human Resources, said. “This award acknowledges that our employees love what they do and take pride in providing their talents right here at SOMC.”

Press Ganey partners with more than 10,000 healthcare facilities (including more than 50 percent of U.S. hospitals) to measure and improve the quality of care delivered to patients. The company’s databases are the largest in the industry and allow facilities nationwide to benchmark their results against peer organizations.

SOMC has been recognized nationally and statewide for employee satisfaction, not only receiving the Distinctive Workplace Award two years in a row, but also earning distinctions as one of FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, a Best Employer in Ohio, and one of Modern Healthcare’s 100 Best Places to Work.

“Without the dedication and high-level of quality our staff provide every day, we would not be considered for such designations,” SOMC President and CEO Randy Arnett said. “We are proud of our team of experts at SOMC and are extremely proud to offer the best quality care to the people of our community.

Dr. Khoury begins new procedure at SOMC

General Vascular Surgeon Dr. Thomas Khoury is now offering a new procedure, Radiofrequency Esophageal Ablation, at Southern Ohio Medical Center. This minimally invasive procedure treats Barrett’s Esophagus, a disorder that can lead to dysplasia and even increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

Dr. Khoury is the only physician in the area offering this procedure.

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the lower cells of the esophagus become damaged, often as the result of repeated exposure to stomach acid. Barrett¹s esophagus is most frequently diagnosed in people with long-term gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), also commonly known as ‘reflux,’ which is a chronic regurgitation of stomach acid into the lower Esophagus.

Radiofrequency Esophageal Ablation treats the condition by removing the damaged cells.

“This is a complete therapy for Barrett’s, which also includes stopping the reflux by surgically correcting the hiatal hernia or weak lower esophageal sphincter,” Dr. Khoury said. “So we kill the Barrett’s and stop the reflux.

“The procedure is very minimally invasive and very superficial,” Dr. Khoury added. “We basically heat the tissue of the esophagus and kill the damaged cells. The treatment takes between 30 and 40 minutes to do, and then the patient goes on with his or her life.”

Patients generally need to go through between one to three treatments. During the treatment, an endoscope with a small balloon attached to it is inserted into the esophagus. Controlled energy from radio waves is then delivered through the balloon, burning the damaged cells with which it makes contact.

“Patients that have these abnormal cells are at risk of developing esophageal cancer. Our goal is to address that risk by eliminating those cells,” Dr. Khoury said.

Over 90 percent of patients, in most trials, have experienced complete Barrett’s eradication after undergoing treatment.

SOMC’s Thompson Elected to NAHC Board of Directors

Karen Marshall Thompson, director of Home Health Services and the Wound Healing Center at Southern Ohio Medical Center, was recently elected to the National Association of Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) Board of Directors.

Thompson was elected for Region V, which includes representation from Ohio, Ill., Ind., Mich., Minn., and Wis.

“I am very excited to receive this honor,” Thompson said. “The NAHC Board of Directors is the chief policy making body of the NAHC, and I am thrilled to be a part of such an important institution.”

The NAHC meets four times per year in Washington, D.C. and its activities include political advocacy and activism, strategic planning, educational programming and collaborative projects, which demonstrate the clinical efficacy and effectiveness of Home Care and Hospice services.

Thompson, RN, MS, CNS, has been an employee at SOMC for 33 years and also serves as a tri-leader for the hospital’s Magnet recognition program.

“I’m grateful for the excellent opportunities I have been afforded through my work at SOMC, and I’m thankful for the support they’ve shown me in my latest endeavor,” Thompson said.

Thompson is a graduate of The Ohio State University, Ohio University and Mount Carmel Hospital School of Nursing. She resides in Otway with her husband, Ben.

Kephas Joins Community Relations Team at SOMC

Eric Kephas has been welcomed to the Community Relations Department at Southern Ohio Medical Center.

In his new role as marketing communications specialist, Kephas will oversee all external communications, emergency management communications, and social media strategies for the hospital.

Kephas graduated from Northwest High School in 2003. He received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Ohio University and a master’s degree in Strategic Communications from National University. He was previously employed as a reporter and copy-editor at the Portsmouth Daily Times.

Kephas currently resides in Wheelersburg. To contact him regarding any media needs, please call 740-356-2689 or e-mail