Relatives of Aneurysm Patients Urged To Get Screened

The aorta, the main artery leading from the heart through the abdomen, can become blocked and swell (right) with an aneurysm. A repair may be needed using a special tube called a stent (center). Screening for aneurysms is recommended among relatives of aortic aneurysm patients and is now reimbursable through Medicare.

Relatives of patients who have aneurysms should see their physician to discuss an ultrasound aneurysm screening, Thomas L. Khoury, MD, a vascular and general surgeon on staff at Southern Ohio Medical Center, says.

“In 2007 an ultrasound screening for aneurysm for a relative of another aneurysm patient became available for reimbursement by Medicare,” he says. “Many people who may have thought they could not afford the expense should consider this potentially life-saving measure of detection.”

An aneurysm occurs when an artery swells up (dilates), usually because of a blockage, and can rupture and cause massive bleeding. A common location of aneurysms is in the abdomen, where the aorta, or main artery leading from the heart, can become restricted or partially blocked due to a build-up of plaque.

“A simple ultrasound test, done as an outpatient, can reveal if there is a restriction in the blood flow and aneurysm present,” Dr. Khoury says. “Because many of the factors that contribute to the presence of an aneurysm may be experienced by several members of the same family, relatives of aneurysm patients should get checked out.”

Common risk factors for aneurysm include a family history of heart or vascular disease or aneurysms, and lifestyle factors often common in families, such as sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and poor diet.

Dr. Khoury urges relatives of aneurysm patients to discuss an ultrasound screening with their physician. A surgeon with more than 15 years’ experience in vascular procedures, Dr. Khoury regularly repairs aneurysms and recalls a recent case that resulted in a family member getting checked out.

“A first-degree relative of an aneurysm patient of mine got a screening,” he explains. “An aneurysm was found and he underwent surgical repair the next week. The detection definitely saved his life. If an aneurysm ruptures, the massive bleeding is fatal without swift emergency intervention.”

For more information, Dr. Khoury can be reached at Southern Ohio Surgical Associates, (740) 353-8661.

SOMC Nurses Present At National Conference

Four nurses from Southern Ohio Medical Center attended the annual Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) conference Sept. 27-29 in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a poster presentation on “ED Overcrowding…Urgent Solution, Urgent Care.” The presentation included the 10-year volume history of the SOMC Urgent Care in Wheelersburg and their patient satisfaction initiatives, which have enabled the UCC to reach the top one percent in the nation in satisfied patients in July 2007. Shown (from left) are Mary Kate Dilts Skaggs, RN, MSN, CNA, BC, director of Nursing Emergency and Outpatient Services, and Sherry Foster, RN, nurse manager of the UCC. Also attending were Kathy Lute, RN, and Angela J. Hodge, RN, BSN, CEN, EMT-P, SANE.

SOMC Physician: If 40 Or Older, Get A Mammogram

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. This year, 213,000 women and 1,700 men will learn they have the disease. If caught early, breast cancer can be readily treated and often cured.

“Years ago, the only treatment for breast cancer was surgical removal of the entire breast (mastectomy),” Dr. Li-fen Chang, senior medical director of Radiation Oncology at Southern Ohio Medical Center, says.

“Now, doctors can allow most women with early-stage cancer to keep their breasts by performing a lumpectomy (surgical removal of the tumor) and following up with radiation therapy and sometimes chemotherapy.”

Dr. Chang says studies have shown that breast-conserving surgery plus radiation therapy is just as good as a mastectomy and may be preferred by many women.

After a lumpectomy, most patients will undergo external beam radiation therapy, which involves a series of daily outpatient treatments to accurately deliver radiation to the entire breast. Each treatment lasts less than 30 minutes; treatments are given five days a week for five to seven weeks.

Doctors are also beginning to deliver radiation to only the part of the breast where the tumor was removed, over the course of one to five days in a new approach called High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy. Surgical procedures to prepare patients for this type of treatment are now available for qualified patients at SOMC.

Radiation oncologists also are testing ways to deliver external beam radiation to only part of the breast or to give radiation during surgery.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Dr. Chang urges all women at age 40 or older to obtain an annual mammogram. Early detection of breast cancer can save your life. Anyone with family history of breast cancer or prostate cancer should talk to your physician for guidance on starting screenings including mammograms at a younger age. Anyone with questions about breast cancer can call the SOMC Cancer Center at (740) 356-7490. For a free brochure on breast cancer, visit www.rtanswers.org or call (800) 962-7876.

SOMC Celebrates Emergency Nurses Week

Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) celebrated Emergency Nurses Week Oct. 7-13. Emergency Nurses Day was Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2007.

This year’s theme for Emergency Nurses Week, “Stepping into their lives when they need you the most,” reflects emergency nurses’ dedication to continuously improving patient care, Mary Kate Dilts Skaggs RN, MSN, CNA-BC, said.

Emergency Nurses Week salutes the dedication and commitment of the emergency nursing professional who brings care, comfort, and compassion to patients and their loved ones. Emergency Nurses Week is a way for SOMC to recognize and reward staff for their compassion, skills, and commitment to care for the community.

“Our Emergency Services department will continue to improve the quality of care and service provided to our patients,” Skaggs said. “Our Emergency Services department (ED) consists of 180 staff members which are made up of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, emergency department technicians, unit clerks, and patient representatives. Our staff members work full-time, part-time, flex and contingent hours.”

SOMC Emergency Services had 77,377 customer visits in FY 2007 between the two campuses. The ED (Main Campus) is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The Health Care Center (South Campus) is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, Skaggs said. “SOMC Emergency Services is continually striving for excellence in patient care,” she said. “A couple of our quality indicators that we measure are Door-to-Doctor time and Door to EKG time for heart attack patients.

September, 2007 the Main Campus’ Door-to-Doctor time was 31 minutes on average and the South Campus was 25 minutes on average compared to the national standard of less than 30 minutes. The Door to EKG time for heart attack patients for September, 2007 was 5 minutes compared to the national standard of les than 10 minutes.”

Skaggs concluded by saying the staff is looking forward as the Emergency Services Department will expand in June, 2008 with more than 40 private rooms.

SOMC Rehab Supports Autism Project


In celebration of National Rehabilitation Week Sept. 16-22, the SOMC Rehabilitation group held a celebration picnic and OSU drawing. The drawing raised $350 which was donated to the Autism Project of Southern Ohio. Pictured, Brett Lacy (right), SOMC Outpatient Rehabilitation Community Relations Coordinator presents the donation to Wendy Potts, president of the Autism Project of Southern Ohio.

Lawson Receives Oncology Scholarship

Kelly Lawson, RN, breast health navigator at the SOMC Cancer Center, has been named a recipient of the 2007 Institutes of Learning Conference Scholarship for $1,000 from the Oncology Nursing Society.

The scholarship is given to nurses who have demonstrated innovation in responding to challenges within their profession and field of practice. The award will be applied toward registration and travel to and from the Eighth annual IOL Conference in Chicago, Ill. in November.

As Breast Health Navigator at Southern Ohio Medical Center, Lawson is the primary nurse contact for breast cancer patients, helping to bridge the gap between the physical aspects of breast cancer and the immediate needs throughout diagnosis, surgery and treatment. She also is the coordinator of care to underinsured women throughout the community, providing access to free mammograms and services.

A Portsmouth native, Lawson is a graduate of Shawnee State University. She has been a part of the nursing staff at SOMC since 1990 and previously served for five years in Radiation Oncology at the SOMC Cancer Center.

Pharmacist Caudill Welcomed At SOMC

Southern Ohio Medical Center has welcomed pharmacist Jessica Caudill, Pharmacy Director Rory Phillips announced.

Caudill is a graduate of Ohio Northern University, where she received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree. She also attended Shawnee State University.

Caudill is a resident of Hamden and an Ohio State University Buckeye Football enthusiast.

Pharmacist Gray Welcomed At SOMC

Southern Ohio Medical Center has welcomed pharmacist Christie Gray, Pharmacy Director Rory Phillips announced.

Gray is a graduate of the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. She completed a pharmacy practice residency with Cardinal Health at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Ky., where she worked until coming to SOMC.

Originally from Huntington, W. Va,, she is a resident of the Ironton area and enjoys showing quarter horses as a hobby.

Pharmacist Perkins Welcomed At SOMC

Southern Ohio Medical Center has welcomed pharmacist Matt Perkins, Pharmacy Director Rory Phillips announced.

A graduate of Valley High School, Perkins received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Ohio Northern University.

Perkins resides in Lucasville with his wife, Jessica, and two children, and he enjoys golfing, jet-skis and camping.