Improving heart health may be easier than you think

Across the United States, the month of February is recognized as National Heart Month. It is a time when many organizations, including Southern Ohio Medical Center, seek to shine a spotlight on the keys to a healthy heart and why it’s so important.

Some factors that put you at risk are unavoidable. For example, you can’t help but grow older. There are, however, many changes you can implement today to improve your health.

If you smoke, quitting is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health as it has been closely linked to heart disease (and a host of other diseases). SOMC can even help you drop the habit through free smoking cessation classes.

Your blood pressure and cholesterol also play major factors in your heart’s health. High blood pressure makes the heart work harder than normal. Cholesterol, meanwhile, can clog your arteries and raise your risk of a heart attack. Adopting a healthy diet and increasing physical activity can control both of these factors.

While losing weight will help, it is healthier to lose it slowly. Crash diets, very-low calorie diets, cleansings and fasts have all been shown to weaken the immune system and damage heart muscles. This will actually increase the threat of developing heart disease.

Aside from replacing bad habits with good diet and exercise, there are other ways – some you may not have considered – to improve your heart health.

Adopting a pet, for example, can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure. If you happen to have a dog, it can also make a great exercise buddy! Drinking green tea can also help by improving blood vessel function, and eating a small amount of dark chocolate can reduce the inflammation that leads to cardiovascular disease. Practicing good dental hygiene is also important as there is a correlation between gum disease and heart problems. Other changes, like limiting your intake of sodium, can also help.

Although it may seem overwhelming, it does not need to be. SOMC is here to help – and will even provide a registered dietitian to help you pick out healthy foods during your next trip to Kroger, free of charge!

For more information about SOMC’s Heart Smart Cart shopping program, call 740-356-8649. To sign up for one of SOMC’s free smoking cessation classes, call 740-356-2552. Additional information can also be found at


SOMC announces February’s “Go Red” events

It’s time to once again “Go Red” for national heart month with Southern Ohio Medical Center.

SOMC is hosting several events throughout the month of February to promote good heart health and is selling “Go Red” t-shirts for the community to wear on February 7. In addition to “Go Red” day, there is also the month-long walking competition “Pound the Pavement,” a Zumbathon Charity Event and special “Make a Date with your Heart” screenings.

“We are reaching out to the community in a variety of ways to increase awareness and promote good heart health,” Amy Fraulini, director of SOMC Critical Care and Heart and Vascular Services, said.  “Heart disease remains the number one killer in the country.  It’s important for our friends and family to understand if they are at risk, and more importantly, be able to recognize the early signs and symptoms of a heart attack.  Awareness, education and screenings are vital for good heart health.”

Go Red t-shirts can be purchased now and are $12 each. Proceeds benefit the SOMC Heart and Vascular Fund, which assists local heart and vascular patients and their families with various needs.

The Go Red Zumbathon takes place on February 15 from noon until 2:00pm at the SOMC LIFE Center. There will be two “Make a Date with your Heart” screenings on February 18. Both take place at the Friends Center, with the first screenings set for 9:00 am to 1100am  and the second round lasting from 5:00 pm to 7:00pm. Pound the Pavement, meanwhile, lasts throughout the month of February.

For more information about any of these events, or to learn more about National Heart Awareness Month, call 740-356-8308 or visit

Pettit receives Outstanding Physician Award

Southern Ohio Medical Center’s Dr. George P. Pettit has been selected to receive this year’s Outstanding Physician Award.

Pettit was chosen to receive this award by the Scioto County Medical Society, which honors physicians that meet certain criteria, such as having 20 years of medical service, the respect of their peers and being involved in their community.

As an OB-GYN for SOMC, Pettit has also been actively involved in the community. His involvement included being the medical director of the Portsmouth City Health Department, president of the Scioto County Medical Society, medical director of the American Cancer Society and the chief-of-staff at Mercy Hospital. Today, Pettit continues to help those in need as a staff physician at the Scioto County’s C.A.O. clinic and a medical consultant for Pike County’s C.A.O. clinic.

“The community has been very good to me and I try to give back,” Pettit said.

Dr. Pettit also provides medical care for people that may not receive assistance otherwise in his community and overseas during several medical mission trips. He has helped patients in Mexico, Pakistan, Haiti, Rwanda, India and the Philippines — where he successfully removed a 33-pound tumor from a patient in need.

Along with his medical work, Pettit was involved in his community as one of the first co-chairs of the Relay for Life. He is also one of the top 10 volume-buyers of junior livestock sale in Scioto, Pike and Greenup Counties.

One of the areas where Pettit takes the most pride, however, is in his involvement with public education. He has been a member of the Portsmouth City School Board for the past 15 years, and considers his work with that organization to be of high importance.

“Children are the future of our society and public schools are the foundation of America’s freedom,” Pettit said regarding his role as a Portsmouth City School Board member.

Dr. Pettit is happy to serve his community and others with his work and involvement. He acknowledges the importance to give back to the community and his obligation to serve the public.

“Everyone who has been successful has a responsibility to give back to the community,” Pettit said. “I enjoy giving back and doing things that benefit my fellow citizens.”

SOMC named FORTUNE’s 18th best place to work

Southern Ohio Medical Center has once again been recognized as one of the best places to work in America by FORTUNE Magazine. SOMC came in 18th on the magazine’s prestigious list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, moving up 11 spots from last year’s designation.

FORTUNE cited SOMC’s support for employees aiming to improve their education as one of the reasons for the high ranking, noting: “This regional health care system pays 100% of tuition for employees seeking to advance their education and pursue a degree in the medical field.”  SOMC’s educational assistance program for employees and their dependents has often been recognized as one of the best in the tri-state area.

SOMC was the highest-ranking health care provider, highest ranked organization in Ohio, and one of only three companies located in Ohio, Kentucky or West Virginia.

“To be included in the top 20 on a list like this is an incredible accomplishment,” SOMC President and CEO Randy Arnett said. “As a hospital, we’re known for the outstanding care that we provide for our patients, but we also care deeply about our employees. We work hard to be a good employer for our community, and this achievement is the culmination of those efforts.”

SOMC has now been featured on FORTUNE’s list for seven years in a row. It is one of many honors that have been bestowed upon the hospital. SOMC has also been recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the best healthcare facilities to work for, an OSHA VPP Star organization, and re-designated as a Magnet facility, which is one of the country’s highest nursing honors.

To view the complete list, visit For more information about SOMC, visit or like SOMC on Facebook at

SOMC guilds raise more than $65,000 in 2013

The guilds at Southern Ohio Medical Center share a common goal – to support the needs of the patients, as well as the hospital’s beneficial programs through fundraising efforts. They achieved their goal in 2013, raising more than $65,000 as part of their effort to advance the mission of SOMC.

“The women and men of SOMC’s guilds are truly extraordinary individuals and make such a difference for the patients, families and staff of Southern Ohio Medical Center,” SOMC Guild Coordinator Jenny Lavender said.

In 2013, SOMC’s guilds donated a total of $65,311.98 including a $30,366.08 donation from the Hope Guild. The Kardia Guild donated a total amount of $7,435.90, while the Pleasure Guild donated $10,050.00. Meanwhile, the Scioto Guild donated an amount of $17,460.00 with the proceeds from the Annual Flower Sale fundraiser.

“Our guilds’ support allowed SOMC to purchase items, such as a Breast Prone Board, EMT/Heart Care Equipment, IV Ultrasound Machines and Breast Pumps for Maternity and donations toward the SOMC Cancer Compassion Fund and Pediatric Nursery,” Lavender said.

SOMC is supported by a total of six guilds, including a newly formed Pediatric Guild. For more information, or to find out how you can support SOMC’s guilds, contact Jenny Lavender at 740-356-8236.

SOMC announces Runner’s Assessment Program

Local runners looking to improve performance or avoid injury now have a new weapon in their arsenal.

The Runner’s Assessment Program at Southern Ohio Medical Center allows runners to determine what could be contributing to pain, learn specific corrective exercises and improve efficiency with Dart Fish software.

A running assessment consists of a runner placed on a treadmill and is asked to run at a comfortable pace. He or she is recorded with a video camera and analyzed with Dart Fish software, which looks at each joint, measures the joint angles and looks at symmetry in the running pattern.

Kelly Wheeler, an SOMC physical therapist who provides the Running Assessment Program, ran three marathons including the 2013 Boston Marathon.

“This is really my heart because I’m a runner myself,” Wheeler said. “I really enjoy it.”

After she developed pain from running, Wheeler had a runner’s assessment. She described the different processes of the Running Assessment Program, such as checking strengths and motion, flexibility and watching mechanics during squatting.

A prescription from a physician requesting a running assessment is needed if one is having pain while running. If one is wishing to improve running efficiency, there is a cash fee of $150 for a running assessment.

For more information, call the SOMC Rehab Care Unit at 740-356-2400.


SOMC LIFE Center offers ways to get in shape

The SOMC LIFE Center offers several ways to get in shape and live a healthier lifestyle for all ages with classes, programs, equipment and training to help you meet your fitness goals.

Personal Trainers at the LIFE Center can customize exercise plans to meet your specific needs. All LIFE Center Personal Trainers have a degree in exercise discipline or a certification through a nationally recognized Fitness agency. Training sessions can be used in 30-minute or 1-hour blocks, and they can be one-on-one or in a group setting. More than one person can share a trainer for an additional $10 per hour per person. There is also a limit of three people per trainer in group training sessions. With a customizable exercise plan, a personal trainer can design the perfect program to help achieve your goals.

Along with keeping yourself healthy, it is important to involve your kids in exercises, as well. The SOMC LIFE Center offers new programs called FitTots and Kidz Fit for LIFE. The goal of the programs is to get kids started on a lifelong journey to health and fitness in a non-competitive and fun environment. FitTots and Kidz Fit for LIFE are offered Mondays and Wednesdays 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm. The LIFE Center is also providing a Kid’s punch card to allow children to workout with their parents or guardians in many of the group fitness classes.

For more information about Personal Training, FitTots or Kidz Fit for LIFE, contact the SOMC LIFE Center at 740-356-7560.

5k Race Cup Series coming in 2014

In 2014, there will be a new way for local runners to compete: the 5k Race Cup Series.

Several local organizations are partnering to start the 2014 5k Race Cup Series, which combines the results of six local 5ks to crown male and female grand prize winners.

The way it works is that, after each race in the series, the top 10 males and the top 10 females will be rewarded points – 100 for first place, 90 for second, 80 for third and so on. At the end of the series, each participant’s points will be totaled and the top male and female will each be awarded a grand prize.

The 5k Race Cup Series schedule includes a total of six races, scheduled as follows:

• March 15 – CAO Shamrock Shuffle
• April 16 – SSU Spring Bear Run
• August 30 – SOMC Run For Your LIFE
• September 17 – SSU Fall Bear Run
• October 4 – Counseling Center Natural High
• December 6 – Red Cross Jingle Bell Jog

It is not necessary to participate in every race to be eligible for the cash prize. For more information on this upcoming event, contact the SOMC LIFE Center at 740-356-7650.

Dr. Martin Staker donates to SOMC Cancer Center

During the month of October, Dr. Martin Staker offered patients first day services in exchange for a $29 donation to help promote national breast cancer awareness. The donations totaled $633 and were presented to Kim Richendollar of the SOMC Cancer Center, seen here alongside Dr. Martin Staker and staff members Judi Emnett and Brittany Salyers.