Local Urologist Esham Prepares To Retire

“Do everything you can do and learn everything you can learn,” Dr. William Esham says. “That’s what I tell young doctors and young people in general.” When Dr. “Bill” Esham hangs up his lab coat at the end of December, he will retire from a decades-long urology practice helping thousands of people in the Portsmouth area and surrounding counties. The advice he now gives worked well for him starting out as a young physician in the early ‘70s.

A son of long-time Vanceburg, Ky., physician Elwood Esham and his wife, Ruth, Bill spent the last part of high school and his college years in private religious schools (“It was my mother’s last attempt to set me straight,” he jokes). He began his medical career after undergraduate studies at Andrews University in Michigan and medical school at the University of Louisville. He served his country as a U.S. Coast Guard Flight Surgeon before practicing in Alabama, where he worked as a family doctor. Burning the midnight oil, he did everything, including delivering babies, and followed his own advice to do as much as he could and learn as much as he could.

Along the way, he also married a young nurse, Marika, originally from Austria, and they would have two children. “I got a ‘67 Mustang convertible a few weeks before we got married,” he jokes. “I told her I’d keep her as long as I had the car.”

His older brother, Richard, was also a practicing physician in Alabama, but Bill decided to return to his roots, and joined the practice in Vanceburg with his father’s successor, Dr. Cliff Jennings. He worked in general practice in his hometown until 1976, when he happened to be looking at specialty practice possibilities while talking with some of his former classmates at the Kentucky Medical Association in Louisville.

“I had a real interest in orthopedics,” he admits, “but in Louisville I was encouraged to apply for an opening there in a urology program. It was a small staff, but several of the people had been classmates or associates of mine from my medical school days and they knew my work ethic.”

Four years later he returned to the Portsmouth area, joined the practice of local urologists Don Appleton and John Walker, and began a 27-year span of caring for the urology needs of area residents. While brother Richard still practices in Alabama, his brother George is also a practicing physician at Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth. His sister, Faith Esham, is a world-famous operatic soprano and an adjunct professor at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, New Jersey. Their mother, Ruth, is still a resident of the area.

Over the years Bill has seen many new approaches and advances in his field. “There have been many refinements,” he says. “Probably the most significant thing was the development of shock wave lithotripsy, in which kidney stones can be shattered non-surgically. Prior to that, we had to cut the patient open to get stones out.”

He cites surgical refinements such as laparoscopic nephrectomy (kidney removal) and endoscopic improvements as critically important, in which smaller, less invasive wounds are needed to perform operations.

“We see a lot more prostate cancer now because we have much better ways to detect it early,” he says. “The difference now is, when I started practice, 75 percent of prostate patients in my office had inoperable cancer. Now 90 percent of prostate patients have treatable conditions because of earlier detection.”

When not caring for others, Bill has found time for his love of the outdoors through fishing, golf, farming and hunting. While plenty of photographs and some impressive trophies show his achievements, the centerpiece of his outdoor experiences is a seven-foot Alaskan grizzly now posed and mounted on a rock in his office. She brings more than a few wide eyes among visitors.

Today Bill and Marika’s children, Kristina and Bill E., are a pediatrician and a cardiac anesthesiologist, respectively, and he has two granddaughters. He doesn’t plan to slow down when his practice closes, looking forward to his traditional outdoor interests and possibly a few new ones.

“I want to thank everyone for trusting me to care for them over the years,” he says. “It has been the greatest honor, to be entrusted to help people, and I’ve made many friends and close colleagues along this journey.”

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 Hospice Holds Life Celebration


About 400 people attended the annual SOMC Hospice Celebration of Life Dec. 2 at the SOMC Friends Center honoring those terminally ill patients who died in the past year who had been cared for in the program. Candles were lit on the stage of the Friends Center honoring the patients. SOMC Hospice is part of Southern Ohio Medical Center and provides services and support for the terminally ill and their loved ones.

Eagles Support Hospice


SOMC Hospice recently accepted the third installment of a donation from the Portsmouth Eagles Aerie 4285, who selected Hospice as their charity for the year. The installment of almost $7,000 was presented by Eagle Arnie Smith (left) to Sheila Riggs of Hospice and brings the total monetary support by the Eagles Aerie 4285 for the program to approximately $20,000. The SOMC Hospice Center is open on the East Campus of Southern Ohio Medical Center, providing services and support for the terminally ill and their loved ones.

SOMC Cardiopulmonary Rehab Patients Honored

About 100 patients and family members attended a luncheon honoring graduates and patients of Southern Ohio Medical Center’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program. The holiday lunch was presented Dec. 4 at the SOMC Friends Center, where staff members of the program and other SOMC officials served the guests lunch and presented gifts sponsored by area businesses. Shown above, heart patients Joe Scurlock and Beth Bullock, who are featured in SOMC’s public messages about heart health and their experiences as heart patients at SOMC, are joined by the rehab team at the event.

SOMC Diabetes Education Receives Renewed ADA Certification

The Diabetes Education Program at Southern Ohio Medical Center has received a new three-year Education Recognition Certification from the American Diabetes Association. This program offers high-quality education services to the patients it serves.

“The ADA recognition process gives professionals a national standard by which to measure the quality of the services they provide,” Stacey Stevens, RN, Diabetes Education Coordinator at SOMC said. “And, of course, it helps patients to identify these quality programs.”

Wasim Deeb, MD, an endocrinologist on staff at SOMC, says the renewed certification reflects the importance of teaching diabetes management through a high-quality process and sustaining world-class service.

“The medical professionals on staff here at SOMC have provided essential input into this complex process of creating a high-quality educational program for managing diabetes,” Dr. Deeb says. “Achieving this renewed certification demonstrates our capacity to benchmark against the best in the nation.”

Dr. Deeb says addressing the many issues of diabetes care in one program helps the patient better manage the disease and many of the related problems that can arise. He points out that knowing these issues can prevent complications and unnecessary hospital admissions as well.

For more information about the SOMC Diabetes Education Program, contact Stacey Stevens at (740) 356-8670.

Orthopedic Surgeon Marchyn Brings New Partial Knee Procedure To SOMC

Orthopedic surgeon Duane J. Marchyn, MD, of Scioto Valley Orthopedics, is bringing his patients a new knee implant procedure that spares bone and preserves ligaments.

Called the Journey Deuce, this new implant is designed to meet the needs of younger, more active individuals who suffer pain associated with arthritis. The procedure preserves more of the patient’s own bone, and saves the two stabilizing ligaments in the front and back of the knee.

According to Dr. Marchyn, who practices at Southern Ohio Medical Center, the Journey Deuce is appropriate for patients with arthritis in two areas of the knee as opposed to those who require a total knee replacement after arthritis has attacked all three areas of the knee.

The Journey Deuce resurfaces the two affected compartments with a curved metal implant that moves against a thin plastic and metal insert on the tibia, or shinbone.

“Before the Deuce came along, we would have to perform total knee replacement on patients who only had disease in two of the three areas,” Dr. Marchyn says. “Now, we can offer these patients a procedure that allows us to spare ligaments which, in turn, preserve a lot of athletic function.”

Since the Journey Deuce spares bone on both the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shinbone), younger, active patients now have an “early intervention” solution for their OA knee pain. Typically, surgeons try to delay total knee replacement for their younger patients, because a potential revision procedure later in life can take a toll on physicial activities before the patient is willing to give them up.

Dr. Marchyn trained to perform the procedure at the Medical Education Research Institute (MERI) in Memphis, Tenn. A board-certified orthopedic surgeon, he was trained at the University of Kentucky and has practiced in Portsmouth for 23 years.

For more information on the Journey Deuce procedure, visit www.JourneyDeuce.com.

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 LIFE Center Supports Homeless Shelter

LIFE Center staff and members donated canned and dry goods to Operation Safety Net, The Scioto County Homeless Shelter, for the holiday season. Shown with the collection of donations are (from left) LIFE Center Director Gary Coovert; Homeless Shelter Director Maureen Cadogan; LIFE Center staff members Debbie Kielmar, Brandi Moore and Jerrod Campbell; Homeless Shelter supporter Gerald Cadogan.