New Cancer Treatment Room at SOMC Shines With Images of Nature

  • When you open the door to the high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy treatment room at Southern Ohio Medical Center, you might think you have stepped into a garden. The walls shine with the images of birds and butterflies, flowers and trees, blue sky with white clouds. There’s even a small structure that looks like a child’s playhouse.

    The structure is actually a lead booth where patients receive one of the newest radiation treatments for cancer. The room itself is one of the most unique in the United States.

    SOMC’s Cancer Center was the first facility in the country to utilize an HDR Tx Booth, a lead-lined unit which is placed inside a normal room and used for HDR radiation treatments. The concept is unique because the entire room does not have to be lead-lined, according to Wendi Waugh, R.T. (R)(T) CMD CTR, administrative director of the Cancer Center.

  • In HDR brachytherapy, a highly radioactive source is placed at the site of a patient’s cancer. This treatment is primarily used with breast, lung, skin and gynecological cancer patients. The source, which is no larger than a grain of rice, is left in the body five to 10 minutes. Because the treatment involves use of radioactive materials, the procedure must take place in a lead-lined location.

    The room grew out of what Waugh termed a long-time need for HDR brachytherapy in the community. “We had one normal-sized lead-lined room but needed another one for the HDR brachytherapy treatments. We looked at building a second room but that was not making sense economically.”

    At the same time Waugh was looking for a solution to her problem, Tom Rhea, a physicist with Advanced Physics Solutions in Franklin, Tn., was looking for a customer for a small lead booth he’d designed for HDR brachytherapy treatments.

  • The mural on the room’s wall and the painted booth add to the facility’s uniqueness, Waugh said.

    “I’m being nice when I say it (the booth) looked like a building you’d put a lawnmower in,” Waugh added with a laugh. When the unit arrived at the Cancer Center, “It was a functional lead box. We have a beautiful center here and this did not meet our standards. We wanted a warm, comfortable, inviting area for our patients.”

    Franklin Furnace Artist Keiva Jenkins worked on the room and booth in stages over a 10-day period.

  • The booth, which weighs approximately 23,000 pounds, arrived in pieces in November 2008, and was assembled inside the treatment room. It’s about the size of a child’s playhouse with interior measurements of 7’4” long by 4’6” wide by 5’ high. The unit has interior lighting, piped-in music, a camera and intercom monitoring system and forced air ventilation.

    “It’s inviting and it gives patients a calm, serene and open atmosphere during treatment,” said Waugh.

    For more information on HDR Brachytherapy, visit Southern Ohio Medical Center’s Cancer Center on the web at

    SOMC Nurses celebrate through giving

    Southern Ohio Medical Center will take part in the nation’s celebration of highlighting nurses with a little different angle this year. Rather than celebrating for themselves, nurses at SOMC have challenged one another to give back to the community in which they serve.

    “We have always shown our appreciation for our nurses at SOMC through small gifts or celebrations throughout the organization. This year, because of the economic state of our nation, our nurses wanted to take their caring a step further by giving back to our community,” said Claudia Burchett, RN BSN MBA FACHE NEA-BC VP Patient Services and Chief Nursing Officer.

    This year, SOMC nurses have developed “SOMC Nurses Giving Back”, a system-wide campaign to donate to an organization of their choice during National Nurses Week.

    “Our areas chose the Domestic Violence Shelter,” said Jason Ross, RN, Nurse Manager of Emergency Services at SOMC. “We came to this decision as a team (including the Wheelersburg Urgent Care Center and the SOMC Health Care Center) and really felt like we could make a difference in community by doing so. It is a good feeling to know that not only can we touch the lives of those who come through our doors, but also those who we may never see.”

    Nurses from all areas of the hospital have chosen various organizations in which to give and will be collecting items through the end of this month. Donations will be distributed during National Nurses Week, May 6-12.

    May 3 Poker Run to Benefit SOMC Hospice

    The First SOMC Hospice Poker Run, a motorcycle ride to benefit the Southern Ohio Medical Center Hospice, will be held May 3 at the hospital’s East Campus.

    The ride is in memory of Ricky Bryan, an SOMC Hospice patient and avid motorcycling enthusiast who passed away in March. It also will honor all bike riders who have been hospice patients.

    Bryan began planning the ride before his death because he wanted to give back to hospice, according to Loren Hardin, a social worker with hospice. Hospice often helps families of patients and had purchased Christmas gifts for Bryan’s grandchildren.

    “It touched Ricky so much,” Hardin added. “He said, ‘I want to pay you back for what you’ve done for us.’ That’s how it all started.”

    Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the ride will leave from the parking lot on SOMC’s East Campus at 11 a.m. Riders will be led by Bryan’s 1995 Harley-Davidson Sportster. The bike will be put on a trailer and Bryan’s riding boots will be placed backwards on the motorcycle’s foot pegs in memory of him. May 3 would have been Bryan’s 53rd birthday.

    Cost to participate is $15 for a single rider or $20 for two people on one bike. The route is approximately 90 miles with two stops along the way.

    Included in the registration fee is a late lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs donated by Life Ambulance. The Don’s of Portsmouth will perform from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The community is invited to stop by and enjoy the music. Those not riding may purchase lunch for a $5 donation to hospice. There also will be a 50/50 drawing with all proceeds to hospice.

    All cards will be drawn prior to the ride. When the ride returns, participants will have the option of purchasing three additional cards for $1 each. Winner of the best hand will receive a one-night stay at the lodge at Shawnee State Park. There also will be other prizes awarded. Ride t-shirts will be available for sale.

    Anyone wishing to pre-register for the ride may stop by the SOMC Hospice office, 2201 25th St., Portsmouth, and pick up a registration form or click here to download one. More information is available by calling hospice at (740) 356-2567 or (800) 779-7902. The ride will proceed rain or shine.

    SOMC Recognized As A Fit-Friendly Company by the American Heart Association

    Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) has been named a Gold Level Start! Fit Friendly Company by the American Heart Association. This is the second year SOMC had earned the recognition.

    The award is given to companies that demonstrate a commitment to promoting exercise and good nutrition in the workplace. To reach the gold level, a company must meet certain criteria including offering employees physical activity support, increasing healthy eating options at work and promoting a wellness culture.

    According to the American Heart Association website, the Start! Fit Friendly program is designed promote positive change in businesses by recognizing companies that create a culture of physical activity in the workplace.

    This year 962 business have been named Start! Fit Friendly Companies.

    Easter Egg Hunt Raises Funds for Pediatrics

    The Coterie Guild, a guild of the Friends of Southern Ohio Medical Center, held its annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 6. Nearly 400 children and adults attended the event, which is part of fundraising activities by the guild for the pediatric unit of SOMC.

    “The event was a huge success,” said Amanda Nickel, who serves as vice president of Coterie. “It’s wonderful to be able to offer an egg hunt and party for the community as well as help children who have been hospitalized.”

    In addition to the women of Coterie, volunteers for the event included students from Portsmouth High School National Honor Society, Minford High School and The Portsmouth River Days Pageant contestants.

    Sponsors included Carbon Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), Asa Jewett (Edward Jones), Penn Station, Resort Rental International, Trinadad Orthopedics, Dean Knittel, Memorial Burial Park, Gabby’s, Hattie Beasleys, Star Inc., Jeff Book for Mayor, Bob & Floyds, The Scioto Voice, Brant Funeral Home and Studio 1 Photography.

    The Coterie Guild, in its 62nd year, has purchased special beds for the neonatal unit, fold-out chairs for Dads and others in the maternity rooms, gowns for newborns, sibling gifts, DVD and VCR players for the pediatric unit, toys, crayons, games and coloring books.

    Pleasure Guild donates to SOMC Women and Children’s Care Unit

    The Pleasure Guild, a guild of the Friends of Southern Ohio Medical Center, presented a check for $5,000 to President and CEO Randy Arnett during the annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon April 14. The funds were raised through the guilds sales and activities throughout the community and will be used toward the purchase of pediatric security monitors. Presenting the check to Mr. Arnett were guild members Georgeann Bussey and Alice Noel.

    SOMC Surgeon Named to Wound Care Panel

    Dr. Sonja Lichtenstein, M.D., director of the Southern Ohio Medical Center Wound Healing Center, has been named a regional delegate for the American Professional Wound Care Association (APWCA).

    As a member of APWCA’s House of Delegates, Lichtenstein will provide assistance to others in the organization. She also will be involved in educating APWCA members about new developments in wound care and updated health insurance procedures.

    Lichtenstein received her medical degree from the State University of New York at Syracuse and completed her training at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. She is board-certified in general surgery.

    APWCA, a national non-profit organization, established the House of Delegates to make the organization more available to its members at the grassroots level. APWCA is dedicated to decreasing the rate of complications from all wounds including acute, chronic, post-surgical, post-radiation and reconstructive. Its headquarters are in Richboro, Pa.

    Free Breast Screening Scheduled April 30 at SOMC Cancer Center

    Free clinical breast exams will be offered at the SOMC Cancer Center April 30 from 4 to 6 p.m.

    The exams are available to uninsured or underinsured women. Participants 40 years old or older, those who are younger but have a strong family history of breast cancer or a woman with an abnormal finding on a self-breast exam are welcome.  Appointments are necessary and may be made by calling the SOMC Volunteer Office at (740) 356-8234.

    “Any woman who needs a mammogram and has not had one in the last year will be given a free voucher,” said Kelly Lawson, clinical manager of the Cancer Center. The mammograms will be scheduled at the SOMC Breast Center.

    This is the third year SOMC has been awarded a grant through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Columbus Affiliate. This grant allows women who meet the guidelines to have access to screenings for early detection of breast cancer. In 2008 the Cancer Center held two breast screenings, conducting approximately 55 exams, Lawson said. Two women were diagnosed with cancer as a result of the screenings and currently are undergoing treatment, she added.

    Educational materials will be available during the screenings and Kim Richendollar, R.N., B.S.N., SOMC breast health navigator, will be on hand to provide information to participants about breast health.  As breast health navigator, Richendollar has in-depth knowledge about benign and cancerous breast diseases. She can provide patients with facts about breast diseases and can refer them to the proper agency for assistance as needed.  Richendollar also provides current educational information to patients, physicians and nurses.

    SOMC physicians, nurses, volunteers from the Fight Cancer, Save Lives Cancer Coalition and other health care providers volunteer their time for the screenings, Lawson said. The free screenings are provided by SOMC, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Columbus Affiliate and Southern Ohio Women’s Cancer Project.

    The SOMC Cancer Center is located at 1121 Kinneys Lane, Portsmouth.

    Breast Cancer Support Group to Meet

    Southern Ohio Medical Center’s Breast Cancer Support Group will meet on April 15 at 1 p.m. at the SOMC Cancer Center, located on Kinneys Lane in Portsmouth

    A box lunch will be provided. Please RSVP at 354-2902 or 352-6702 no later than April 13.