Southern Ohio Medical Center’s junior volunteers

Southern Ohio Medical Center’s junior volunteers pose for a photo with Jenny Lavender (back row, far left) and Carol Burnheimer (back row, far right) of SOMC Volunteer Services. SOMC’s Junior Volunteer Program has become a popular way for students to enjoy a meaningful and rewarding summer. Junior volunteers are introduced to many facets of the hospital as they work right along-side adult volunteers and SOMC staff. Benefits of the summer Junior Volunteer Program include real-life experience and building job skills, meeting healthcare professionals, learning more about careers in healthcare and meeting new friends. To learn more about the volunteer opportunities available at SOMC, contact the Volunteer Office at 740-356-8234.

Portsmouth West track team helps coach through surgery

As a teacher and track coach at Portsmouth West High School, Debra Moore is always there to give her students support when they need it the most. When Moore underwent open-heart surgery at Southern Ohio Medical Center, they were there to return the favor.

 In fact, Moore says her students were part of the reason she was so sure everything was going to be okay. Prior to her surgery, and just after a track meet that she was forced to miss, Moore’s team gathered in front of their bus to take a special group photo for their absent coach.

 “They all stood together and made little hearts, and they sent me a message: ‘Good luck tomorrow. We’re with you, we love you,’ that kind of thing,” Moore said. “When I saw that, I knew I was going to be okay.”

 Moore was touched by her track team’s support, but not surprised. She has a close relationship with them that goes back further than her surgery. They were there to offer support during her mother’s hospitalization, and stood by her as she mourned the loss of the woman she describes as not only a parent, but also her best friend.

 When she first went to SOMC, complaining that it felt like someone was “blowing a balloon up” in her chest, she assumed it was just anxiety from her mother’s passing. She soon found out it was more serious than that, but whatever worry she may have felt was lessened by that simple, thoughtful gesture from her track team.

 “God doesn’t give you any more than you can handle,” Moore said. “When I saw that picture, I knew that he was sending me a message: Yes, I was going to go through surgery, but I was going to be okay and I would be back to coach my team.”

 It wasn’t just the support of her team that put Moore at ease, however. She had also researched her doctors at SOMC and was very pleased with what she heard.

 “I made phone calls to check on Dr. Alain Asher, and I had nothing but good reports about him,” Moore said. “I just can’t say enough about Dr. Asher and Dr. Harry Driedger. They’re wonderful, they couldn’t have treated me better.”

 Since her surgery, Moore has visited her team and celebrated her recovery.  She has also taken note of just how fortunate she was to have the right team around her in her moment of need, both on the track and in the hospital.

 “Immediately after I started having chest pains, I went to SOMC. I trusted them to take care of me, and they delivered,” Moore said. “I received excellent care from the entire staff at SOMC. The nurses, lab techs, house keepers – everyone was just wonderful.

 “I’m also grateful for the support from my students and co-workers. People like our boys track coach, Gary Marion, and my assistant, Leah Blevins, helped make a difficult situation a little more manageable.”

Children ages 7 to 13 encouraged to join SOMC’s Camp LIFE, June 25-29

 Kids looking for something to keep themselves occupied, or parents looking for a way to get their children active and healthy this summer, are encouraged to sign up for Camp LIFE at Southern Ohio Medical Center.

 “Camp LIFE lasts from June 25 to June 29 and is meant for ages 7 to 13,” Dietician Kim McCray said. “It’s a great opportunity for kids to make new friends and learn new skills to help them stay active and healthy long after the camp is over.”

 Activities last from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, with most activities taking place in the SOMC Life Center. During the camp, children are taught the basic principles of nutrition and exercise, as well as cooking techniques, and provided numerous physical activities to keep them active and entertained. Activities include swimming, yoga, basketball and Zumba®. SOMC will also provide participants with a healthy lunch.

Camp LIFE was developed as way to combat occurrences of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in children, but has attracted a wide variety of participants because of the enjoyable and educational activities it provides.

 “We design our Camp LIFE activities in such a way that they can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of physical condition or ability,” McCray said. “Our goal is to lay the foundation for healthy living in a fun, supportive environment.”

 Anyone interested in joining Camp LIFE is asked to sign up prior to June 11 by calling the SOMC Life Center. Registration for Camp LIFE is $75 per child and $50 for each additional family member.  The Life Center can be reached at 740-356-7650.


Wendi Waugh named SOMC’s Administrative Director of Cancer Services/Community Health and Wellness

Wendi Waugh has been named the Administrative Director of Cancer Services/Community Health and Wellness at Southern Ohio Medical Center. In this position, Waugh will assume leadership of the SOMC Life Center as well as SOMC’s Community Health Department. She will also continue in her leadership role at the SOMC Cancer Center.

 SOMC’s Community Health Department routinely organizes community health screenings, while the SOMC Life Center works with individuals to help them improve their overall health through exercise and events such as the August 12 ‘Tri For Your LIFE’ triathlon.

 “I’m excited about this opportunity,” Waugh said. “The Life Center and the Community Health Department each play important roles in improving the overall health of our community. I think it makes sense to align the two, and I’m looking forward to making sure our community is able to get the most of the opportunities SOMC provides.”

 Waugh began working at SOMC in 1986 and has been the Administrative Director of Cancer Services since 2001.

 She currently resides in Oak Hill and has two children, one daughter who is entering her senior year Ohio State University and a son who is beginning his junior year at Oak Hill High School.

 To learn about the SOMC Life Center, call 740-356-7650. The SOMC Cancer Center can be reached at 740-356-7490.

SOMC Cancer Center now offering clinical trials

The SOMC Cancer Center is now offering National CancerInstitute sponsored clinical trials, meaning patients will have access to the latest options in cancer treatment in addition to the excellent care they already enjoy.

“Those who take part in clinical trials at SOMC will receive the same excellent, proven care that all patients receive, but in addition they also may receive new novel therapies,” says Clinical Research Nurse Jamie Arnett. “Clinical trials play an important role in the development of new treatments. In fact, many of the treatments that our patients are receiving today first began in clinical trials.”

SOMC is offering clinical trials Sponsored by the National Cancer Institute through their Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP).

“This is very exciting because it offers us the opportunity to bring new promising therapies to our patients right here in Portsmouth,” says Dr. Thomas Summers. “Our patients are now able to participate in National Cancer Institute sponsored trials, which helps excel the field and potentially allows a patient access to promising therapies sometimes years before they are available to the general public.”

In addition to active treatment trials, this also brings trials aimed at cancer prevention and control, which is important for our primary care colleagues to know.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and would like to schedule a consultation with one of our medical oncologists for a second opinion or to determine your eligibility for a clinical trial, contact our clinical trials nurse at 740-356-7594. Additional information on the SOMC Cancer Center’s clinical trials can be found at

SOMC observing National Cancer Survivors Day with free luncheon

National Cancer Survivors Day

National Cancer Survivors Day

 In recognition of National Cancer Survivors Day on June 3, Southern Ohio Medical Center is honoring cancer survivors and their caregivers with a free luncheon at the SOMC Friends Center. The event will last from 1-3 p.m. and will include live music from Doc Roc and the Remedies.

“National Cancer Survivors Day is a reminder that, no matter how devastating a cancer diagnosis may be, it is not a death sentence,” Wendi Waugh, director of the SOMC Cancer Center, said. “Our local survivors are a true source of inspiration, and I’m thrilled that we have this opportunity to celebrate their courage.”

All cancer survivors and their caregivers are invited to attend and show the community that being diagnosed with cancer does not mean the end to a meaningful and productive life. Participating survivors will be honored during the luncheon, and will also receive a free Survivor’s Day t-shirt and will be entered into drawings for door prizes to be given away at the event. Door prizes have been generously donated by local businesses.

National Cancer Survivors Day is an annual event held on the first Sunday in June. It began in the United States in 1987, but is now celebrated across the globe.

Cancer patients face many challenges, whether they are physical, emotional or financial. The SOMC Cancer Center works to lessen the burden of those challenges by offering state-of-the-art cancer care with a patient-centered approach, as well as providing numerous support groups and programs.

For more information, or to RSVP for the cancer survivor’s luncheon, please contact the SOMC Cancer Center at 740-356-7490. To attend the June 3 luncheon, please RSVP no later than May 28.

SOMC Rehab Department to host free hearing screening on May 25

In honor of May being Better Hearing and Speech Month,Southern Ohio Medical Center is hosting a free hearing screening on May 25 in the Rehab Department of the SOMC LIFE Center.

SOMC Audiologist Kristie Thacker is encouraging the public to attend even if they don’t think they have a hearing problem. Screenings can help uncover problems before they become obvious.

“Whether you think you’re experience hearing loss or not, it’s a good idea to come to screenings like this,” Thacker said. “A lot of people have hearing loss and really don’t do anything about it. It happens gradually, so they may not even notice it right away.”

It is also a good idea to have children tested, especially if parents are concerned that their child isn’t talking. SOMC will also have speech therapists at the event.

An estimated 28 million Americans live with hearing loss that can be treated. Audiologists can prescribe hearing aids and assistancelistening devices. They can also teach people with hearing loss how to concentrate on hearing all sounds.

“Even a very slight hearing loss can have an impact on your daily life,” Rehabilitation Center Director Kevin Stimpert said. “Hearing loss is treatable, and there is no reason for anyone to miss all the important sounds of life.”

In addition to services for those with difficulty hearing the SOMC Speech and Hearing Center offers a wide range of Speech-Language therapy services.

“Our Speech-Language Pathologists offer comprehensive evaluation and treatment of communication and swallowing disorders,” Stimpert said. “Services are provided to children and adults for communication problems due to stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, radiation treatments or neurological diseases, delayed speech and language development, difficulty saying particular sounds, stuttering, voice problems and swallowing difficulty.”

For more information, or to schedule an appointment for the free hearing screening, contact the SOMC LIFE Center’s Rehab Department at 740-356-7554.

Khoury, Barber and Wakefield continue perfecting their craft

When it comes to peripheral stenting at Southern Ohio Medical Center, as is the case with most things, there have been plenty of changes over the years. Technology has changed and the list of offered procedures has grown.  The size of the staff has expanded as well.

Peripheral stenting is a minimally invasive procedure where a catheter with a balloon tip is inserted into a peripheral artery (arteries in the lower abdomen, kidneys, neck, arms, legs or feet) and inflated to compress plaque buildup.  A stent is then placed in the vessel to keep the vessel open to maintain necessary blood flow. This procedure is performed in a state-of-the-art cardiovascular catheterization laboratory.

In its infancy, back in the 1980’s, the SOMC Cath Lab operated with a three person staff.  Radiologic Technologist, Andy Barber and nurse Mary Ann Wakefield were two of the lab’s original members, but Barber credits the arrival of its third member with truly advancing the art of stenting.

“Things really started progressing in 1993 when Dr. Thomas Khoury came,” Barber said. “He pushed the envelope and we started doing a lot more than what we were doing at that time. As the procedures have evolved, he’s stayed current and up to date on everything.”

Together, the trio of Khoury, Barber and Wakefield became peripheral endovascular pioneers. They were among the area’s first to offer these services by a dedicated team and Wakefield became the county’s first nurse certified in radiology.

“For our patients, our experience is very important,” Dr. Khoury said. “We’ve done over 4,000 procedures.  That experience, our state of the art technology, and the harmonious work of the staff lowers the risk of complications and ensures excellent outcomes for our patients.”