By Dr. Jeremiah Martin
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and an appropriate time to recommit ourselves to reducing lung cancer in our community.
Lung cancer is a dangerous disease. When we look at all of the people who die from any kind of cancer in Scioto County, approximately one third are due to lung cancer. This is, in part, because most lung cancer is detected in advanced stages.
That is why we are doing everything in our power to detect lung cancer early, and I am excited I am excited to report we have a powerful new tool at our disposal.
We call it the Incidental Nodule Program. Now, when our radiologists see a CT Scan, they have the ability to flag abnormalities for our Lung Navigator to review. The patient is informed of the abnormality and follow up appointments with the Pulmonology group are scheduled to explore the unexpected findings. This program has already found more than 50 lung nodules that were later determined to be cancer.
This program is saving lives, but it’s not the only way we can decrease lung cancer deaths. Understanding your risk factors – such as smoking, occupational exposure and genetics – can also help identify cancer early. So, too, can receiving a lung cancer screening.
If you are a smoker, though, the number one way you can protect yourself from lung cancer is by stopping. If you are between the ages of 55 and 77 and currently smoke or quit within the past 15 years and have a 30 pack-year history of smoking, you should also consider talking to your primary care provider or our Lung Health Navigator at 740-356-LUNG (5864).
At SOMC, we are committed to doing everything we can to preventing lung cancer deaths – not just in November, but all year long.
More than 11 million Americans have contracted COVID-19, including more than one thousand in Scioto County. But Ellen Horsley, 37, is unique.
She’s unique because, in the last three months, she’s contracted it twice.
“I can’t say how many times I’ve heard someone say, ‘I wish I would just get it so I can be done with it,’” Horsley said, adding “I’m proof that you can get it a second time.”
It was early August the first time she tested positive. She had just returned from a trip to Disney and felt fine, but isolated for ten days just to be safe. On the tenth day, she developed symptoms.
She already had mild nausea when her throat became “scratchy.” Then came the headaches. Then, a few days after testing positive, came the fever. All in all, though, she was lucky that her symptoms were mild. She never lost her sense of taste or smell. In fact, she said she wouldn’t have thought twice about her illness were it not for the ongoing pandemic.
After her recovery, she still felt “off,” but was at least glad to have a period of immunity from the virus. Or so she thought. Eighty-nine days later, she tested positive again. “It kind of blew the 90-day immunity theory I’ve been told out of the water.”
Her second bout with COVID-19 was different, and she described her symptoms as “the worst sinus infection ever.” Still, the thought that she might have COVID again didn’t cross her mind until she ate dinner that day. “When I was eating lunch, I did fine. I could taste it,” she said. “Later when I ate dinner, I couldn’t taste it. I went around smelling everything and realized I’d also lost my sense of smell.”
It was then that she realized she had contracted COVID a second time. Even though the two infections brought differing symptoms, there were some similarities:
First, Horsley said that even when you have “recovered” from COVID-19, it doesn’t mean you feel better. The symptoms and general feeling of illness from her infections lingered long after she stopped being contagious. For example, her senses of taste and smell still have not returned.
Second, even though both of her experiences were comparatively mild, she said it bears no comparison to the flu.
“I know that’s what everybody wants to say. ‘It’s like the flu and you get over it,’” she said, “but I’ve never had the flu for weeks and weeks and weeks.”
Horsley is just now emerging from her second case of COVID-19 and knows there’s no reason to believe a third infection isn’t possible. For that reason, she acknowledges she is concerned about the coming holiday season.
“It’s out there,” Horsley said. “It’s more prevalent than it’s ever been. The risk of catching it and sharing it is greater than it’s ever been. I have parents and in-laws that are in categories we need to protect. As much as I love getting together, my family is more important than a family dinner.”
For more information about COVID-19, please refer to cdc.gov.
Southern Ohio Medical Center is offering a new Discharge Pharmacy, which is located adjacent to the Emergency Department on SOMC’s Main Campus. It is open from 8am until 2am daily starting Monday, November 16.
Providers will be able to send prescriptions directly to this new location. This will provide ED patients with immediate access to medications following their discharge. The pharmacy will also be available for patients with prescription needs after-hours.
“Most patients are eager to get home and begin their recovery after a visit to the Emergency Department, but they realize that first they have to go get their prescriptions filled,” SOMC Community Pharmacy Business Manager Robbie Stone said. “By placing a pharmacy just across the hall from the Emergency Department exit, SOMC has made this process even easier for our patients.”
“Our goal is to make the process as convenient as possible for our patients,” SOMC Director of Pharmacy Services Rory Phillips said. “With this new pharmacy, Emergency Department patients will be able to get their medications before they ever leave the hospital.”
In addition to the new Discharge Pharmacy, SOMC also has Community Pharmacies in Portsmouth, West Union and Wheelersburg. Patients can order refills online and pick them up at any of these convenient locations.
For more information, or to request a refill, visit CommunityPharmacy.somc.org.
Southern Ohio Medical Center is planning a virtual version of their holiday celebration, Winter Wonderland. The event has been modified for 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The new event is called Winner Wonderland, in reference to its reverse raffle that gives guests the opportunity to win up to $5,000, as well as an assortment of other prizes.
“This year’s event will be different, but it’s still a great way to have a fun evening while supporting a good cause,” SOMC Donor Relations Coordinator Hayley Burchett said. “There are a limited number of tickets available so we encourage anyone interested to purchase theirs as soon as possible.”
Proceeds from Winner Wonderland will benefit SOMC patients through the purchase of Ultrasound Guided IV Placement units. These units allow for quick and easy IV placements for our patients. Tickets for Winner Wonderland are available now, and can be purchased for $100 each. Reverse raffle winners will be announced in real time beginning 7:30pm on December 4.
To purchase individual tickets, or to sponsor the event, visit somc.org/WinnerWonderland. You can also contact Mary Arnzen at 740-356-2504 or Hayley Burchett at 740-356-2505.
Ralph Craft isn’t sure how he contracted COVID-19. He just knows he doesn’t ever want to experience it again.
“I had one nurse ask me, ‘Is it as bad as they say?’” he said. “I said ‘No. It’s worse.’”
It started on the first of August. Craft, a 68-year-old diabetic, woke up Saturday morning and didn’t feel right. He’s pieced together what happened next by talking with his family and reviewing his own medical history. He had to do it that way because his own memories from the time are shaky.
Here’s what Ralph Craft knows: He knows he was taken to Southern Ohio Medical Center. He knows he was placed on a vent. He knows he spent more than a week in a coma. And he knows he wasn’t given much chance to survive.
“When they took me to the hospital, my sugar was like 450,” he said. “My oxygen levels were down in the 50s.”
Craft awoke from his coma twice. The first time, he could tell there were people in room, but they looked like negatives on a picture. “I remember they said they talked to my wife and son,” he recalled. “They said, ‘You’re doing good’ and that’s the best I can remember.”
The second time he woke up, he was only conscious long enough to know that a tube had been inserted in his throat. The next memory he has is waking up in the Intensive Care Unit.
“I was so weak,” he said. “I couldn’t talk, and I was so thirsty. I tried to point to my mouth, and I couldn’t even raise my hand.”
Eventually, he was moved into isolation. He stayed there until the 29th of August, when he was moved into rehabilitation. His muscles were so weak he had to relearn how to do basic tasks like dress himself and shower. Even now, he is still working to regain the strength he lost.
Craft has had COVID-19, and he has also had the flu. When he had the flu, it took him a few days to recover. He still hasn’t fully recovered from COVID-19.
He is still in therapy, still feels weak in his arms and still hasn’t fully regained his balance. He has also developed new ailments – aches and pains he didn’t have prior to contracting COVID. Beyond the physical recovery he also admitted that, though he does not fear going to bed at night, he does prolong it.
Even with his continued rehabilitation, though, Craft considers himself lucky. His daughter-in-law works in a COVID unit and has told him they’ve lost patients who were in better condition than he was. As a Christian, he attributes his survival to a higher power, saying “I tell everyone I’m a miracle.”
Craft – who was concerned about the spread of COVID even before his experience – is doing everything he can to avoid any future exposures. There is no evidence to suggest someone who survives COVID-19 can’t contract the virus a second time, so he makes sure to wear a mask anytime he must go out. He also carries hand sanitizer with him and uses it frequently.
He has heard others complain about the restrictions and recommendations designed to slow the spread of the virus. While he understands where those complaints come from, he also suspects others might feel differently if they shared his experience.
“If you had to go through what I did, you wouldn’t want to have this,” Craft said. “When you’re still taking therapy three months later, something’s wrong.”
For more information about COVID-19, visit cdc.gov.
Southern Ohio Medical Center is now offering endocrinology services in Portsmouth with Certified Nurse Practitioner Dana Beck.
“This is a service that means a lot to our community, and I’m glad to be able to offer it in Portsmouth,” Beck said. “Being able to receive this care close to home is incredibly important for our patients and their wellbeing.”
Endocrinology specialists are trained to diagnose and treat hormonal imbalances that impact various functions of the human body. Commonly treated disorders include:
- Weight management and metabolism
- Metabolic syndromes
- Imbalance of sex/reproductive hormones
- Low testosterone in men
- Hypertension and Lipid Disorders
SOMC’s Portsmouth Family Health Center is located at 1805 27th Street in Portsmouth. The facility also offers family practice, urgent care and pharmacy services.
To schedule an appointment with Dana Beck, call 740-356-7290. For more information about this and other services offered at SOMC, visit somc.org.
Southern Ohio Medical Center was recently awarded accreditation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for the Practice Transition Accreditation Program (PTAP). The credentialing is for their Critical Care Nurse Residency Transition to Practice Program.
PTAP accreditation is awarded to organizations that demonstrate excellence in transitioning nurses to new practice settings. SOMC’s program focuses on new graduates who will be providing critical care in the Intensive Care Unit and Heart Care areas. It is a six-month program that has been offered since June of 2019.
“Our program supports new graduates entering the ICU and Heart Care,” SOMC’s PTAP Program Director Ashley Salyers said. “It helps them acclimate and see what healthcare looks like outside of nursing school. The program helps new critical care nurses develop skills, competency and confidence as they transition into the critical care environment.”
In addition to preparing new nurses to work in critical care, the program also supports them as they adjust to the stresses and demands of the job.
“We do more than just teach new nurses how to do the job. We create an environment where they can feel supported and understand that they’re not alone,” Salyers said. “This can be a very stressful profession, and it’s important for them to know that there are people they can turn to when things are hard.”
For more information about SOMC, including other awards or recognitions received, visit somc.org.
Southern Ohio Medical Center and Lungevity will be hosting a Lung Cancer Learning Event on Saturday, November 7. The virtual learning session will simplify any confusion regarding who should receive a lung screening test, when and how often. Dr. Jeremiah Martin, a thoracic surgeon at SOMC, will lead the conversation.
“This is a great opportunity for the community to ask questions and have them answered by an expert,” Wendi Waugh, SOMC Director of Cancer Services, said. “We encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about lung cancer, and whether or not they should be screened, to take part in this event.”
Admission is free but registration is required. To participate, register at lungevity.org/learnportsmouth by November 6 at 5:00 pm. The event will begin at 9am on November 7. Details regarding how to log on will be sent directly to participants after they sign up.
Stop in to SOMC Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery for a Halloween Special during the month of October!
The offer includes free “Getting Skin Ready” kit with a purchase of a high potency Retinol or HQ System. You can also receive 10% off your purchase of injections when you spend $300 or more.
Schedule your appointment today by calling 740-356-3562.
Offer is valid through October 31.
October 20 is known as World Osteoporosis Day.
According to The International Osteoporosis Foundation, “Worldwide, one in three women and one in five men aged 50 years and over will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and fragile.”
At SOMC, we are lucky to have the incredible Orthopedic Associates team. One of those team members is Lisa Lemley Gibson, MS, PA-C and fracture liaison.
Gibson is passionate about osteoporosis and spreading the word about risk factors and who should get screened. She even encouraged Tonda Martin, who was the Office Manager of the SOMC Orthopedic Associates at that time, to get screened. Tonda is now the manager of Internal Medicine and South Webster Family Practice.
“I never thought about getting screened,” Tonda said. “I was pretty skeptical.”
Tonda’s mother had suffered a hip-fracture, which was a sign to Lisa that she should take the preventative measure of getting tested. She also met the age where osteoporosis becomes more of a risk, but she leads a pretty active lifestyle, which caused her to be hesitant to this idea.
Lisa also notes that additional risk factors include, being post-menopausal or over 65 (over 70 for men), being petite, having low vitamin D and/or calcium intake, parental risk-factors including hip fracture, immobility or inactive lifestyle, alcohol and tobacco use, using steroids for more than 3 months, or having rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes or thyroid issues.
After quite some time of being encouraged by Lisa, and realizing the parental risk-factor, Tonda eventually agreed to be tested.
She was surprised to learn that she was positive for osteoporosis.
With Lisa’s help, Tonda eventually found the medication that works best for her to slow the effects of osteoporosis.
“I see first-hand what a hip fracture can do,” Tonda said. “Watching my mother go through it, hindered much of her ability, so I would encourage others to get tested to help slow the decline.”
Lisa wants to ensure the community is aware of osteoporosis by knowing these risk factors.
“Osteoporosis awareness and higher levels of screening are needed in our community,” Lisa said. “My goal is to get people thinking about it.”
The testing is simple, requires no preparation and only takes about 15 minutes to complete.
Anyone who meets any of the risk factors mentioned above, can make an appointment with Lisa by calling the SOMC Orthopedic Associates at (740) 356-1709.