Monthly Archives: October 2009

Irwin Director of SOMC Performance ImprovementPosted on October 13, 2009

Julie Irwin, RN, BSN, has been named the administrative director of Performance Improvement at Southern Ohio Medical Center.

In this position, Irwin will help develop, implement, monitor and direct the functions of organization-wide performance improvement activities. She also will monitor compliance standards with both The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Irwin has worked at SOMC for 15 years, previously holding titles as nurse manager of the 3 North A nursing unit and manager of the Performance Improvement Department. She received her associate degree and bachelor’s degree in nursing from Shawnee State University and has also obtained medical-surgical nursing certification.

She and her husband, Craig, reside in the Jackson area with their four children.

Four Battles Then: Four Victories NowPosted on October 13, 2009

How Four SOMC Employees Are Spreading Stories Of Hope

Pictured then (left) are Noel Pemberton, Norma White, Wendi Waugh and Carolyn McKinnon; pictured now (right) are McKinnon, White, Pemberton and Waugh.

In 2006, four employees at Southern Ohio Medical Center embarked on what would be the hardest journey of their life: the battle against breast cancer.

Three years later, each woman is cancer free and sharing their stories to provide inspiration and encouragement for those following in their footsteps.

Norma’s Story:

Norma White

Norma White, a purchasing analyst at the SOMC Cancer Center, first discovered a lump in her breast while at work. She let it go for week before visiting a doctor. “At 32 years old, and with no previous history of breast cancer, I didn’t think it was possible for me to have the disease,” she said. “I kept denying it, but finally realized it wasn’t worth putting off any longer—I needed to help myself get better.”

Within seven months of a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and multiple radiation treatments, Norma was officially declared cancer free. She now uses her experience to relate to first-time chemo patients, explaining that it may not be an easy road, but that they will see their old self again.

“Many cancer patients feel like they have to put their lives on hold, but they don’t,” she said. “I still exercised, went shopping and spent time with my family. My biggest goal was to put the treatments behind me and move on with my life. Now I can show my patients that it’s possible.”

Carolyn’s Story:

Carolyn McKinnon

After a routine mammogram, 51-year-old Carolyn McKinnon was told that she had a lump in her breast. Four days later, she was undergoing surgery.

“It all happened so fast that I barely had time to think about it,” she said. “I was definitely scared, but I also always had hope.”

Within 10 months of a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Carolyn was cleared of cancer. She now uses her story to encourage others to not put off what they can do today.

“My experience made me realize that life is too short—you don’t get another time around,” she said. “I needed to accomplish all the things I said I wanted to do, but hadn’t; I have since gone back to school to become a nurse practitioner and I’m very happy with where I am in life.”

Wendi’s Story:

Wendi Waugh

Wendi Waugh, director of the SOMC Cancer Center, was aware that there was a lump in her breast nearly five months before visiting her physician for an exam.

“I had an order for a mammogram, but held onto it because I hoped the lump would go away,” she said. “Unfortunately, I always knew in my heart that it wouldn’t disappear.”

A year and a half after her double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Wendi returned to her normal life without cancer. Her experience has helped her relate on a new level with her patients, creating a greater sense of compassion and understanding of their situations

“Breast cancer is a roller coaster ride: you don’t know where the loops are, but you can choose to experience the ride and learn from it,” she said. “I chose to learn and to take care of myself so that now I can take care of others.”

Noel’s Story:

Noel Pemberton

As a registered mammographer and advocate of the monthly self-breast exam, Noel Pemberton understood what avenues to take after finding a pea-sized lump in her breast.

“I immediately went to my doctor and scheduled a mammogram,” she said. “From the first image, we knew that it was cancer.”

A double mastectomy, eight chemo treatments, 38 radiation sessions and six months later, Noel was in the clear. She now sits with patients during their hour-long bone scans and encourages them by sharing her story.

“What better place can we be to touch patients?” she said. “I have bonded with so many people by sharing my experience and have made friends that I never would have met otherwise. Being able to inspire others through my own story is an amazing feeling and I’m truly blessed.”

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Join the SOMC Cancer Center in celebrating by receiving your annual mammogram today and learning about the many ways that you can fight the disease. For more information or to schedule your appointment, please call (740) 356-7490 or visit them online at

Critical Care, Open-Heart Nurses Invited to Open HousePosted on October 8, 2009

As the region’s only Magnet hospital, Southern Ohio Medical Center is saving (and warming) hearts using technology and evidence-based procedures scarcely found anywhere else in the country.

Experienced open-heart and critical care nurses are invited to learn more about the very good things happening within our complete line of Heart and Vascular Services during a Heart-Warming Open House from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 in the SOMC Heart Care Unit, 1805 27th St., Portsmouth.

Participants will have the opportunity to tour the department, meet members of the staff and explore all available nursing options.

For more information, please call the SOMC Human Resources Employment Office at 356-6440.

SOMC Home Care Offers New TechnologyPosted on October 8, 2009

Southern Ohio Medical Center is helping to provide more tailored, accurate care for home care patients through the new portable Telehealth monitoring system. Pictured using the equipment is 87-year-old patient George Hussey.

Southern Ohio Medical Center is now offering a new, state-of-the-art monitoring system for home care patients that may prevent emergency visits or prolonged hospitalization.

Called Telehealth, the portable machine allows blood pressure, heart rate, weight, pulse oxygen and other trending information to be quickly transmitted each morning directly from the patient’s phone line to the SOMC Home Health nursing facility.

“Prior to this new technology, a home care nurse would have to travel to a patient’s home once a week to check their vital signs,” Karen Thompson, director of SOMC Home Health Services, said. “Now we can easily monitor these statistics on a daily basis, helping us to provide a more tailored and accurate plan of care for our patients and their families.”

Thompson explained that each system can be programmed and tailored to match specific patient needs, tracking and trending information based on the plan of care as requested by their physician.

“The monitors can ask the patient yes or no questions like, ‘Are you having chest pain?’ or ‘Are you feeling dizzy?’ There are over 150 pre-programmed questions that can be used,” she said. “It’s really helpful because it alerts our medical staff of abnormal findings much earlier, often resulting in an intervention of the patient’s treatment and better quality of care.”

Any home care patient can use the Telehealth system, as long as there are no safety or compliance issues. Typical patients who are candidates include: those who have undergone open-heart surgery; those who suffer from congestive heart failure; those with respiratory problems; or those who are medically unstable.

“The monitor has been great and has saved me many trips to the hospital,” said 87-year-old patient George Hussey. “You don’t need much training to use the program and it’s self-sufficient. I can do it by myself.”

“Anyone can do it, young or old. The monitor tells you step by step what to do,” Brent Conley, recent heart care patient and user of the Telehealth program, said. “It only takes a few minutes and if your vital signs are abnormal, a nurse will call to check on you.”

Conley added that the monitors don’t replace the home care nurse, but do help in providing excellent, timelier service.

“I had never been sick, had surgery or been in the hospital until I had a heart attack and found myself on the operating table,” he said. “When you are sick, you can never have too many people caring for you. This new monitoring system reassures me that someone is watching out for me and it’s a wonderful feeling.”

For more information about the Telehealth monitoring system, please call SOMC Home Health Services at 356-5600.

SOMC and SSU Host Annual Nursing Research DayPosted on October 8, 2009

Nurses, partnered nursing faculty members, and local nursing students are invited to learn about the research being conducted at Southern Ohio Medical Center and Shawnee State University, as well as its universal implications in the field of health care, during this year’s Nursing Research Day event.

The program will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19 at the Friends Community Center and will feature presentations by SOMC nurses and SSU nursing faculty. Breakfast and lunch will be provided and CE’s will be awarded.

Admission is free to SOMC employees and SSU faculty/students. Cost is $25 for regular students and $50 for all others. Group discounts are available.

Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP no later than Oct. 12 by contacting Mary Kate Dilts-Skaggs at ext. 8430 or

SOMC LIFE Center To Host Halloween ZumbafestPosted on October 8, 2009

The SOMC LIFE Center will host a Halloween Zumbafest at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 29 at the Friends Community Center, 1202 18th Street, Portsmouth.

The event is open to the public at a cost of $5 per person for those without a LIFE Center membership. Members will be admitted free of charge and may bring one guest free of charge. Additional guests are $5 per person. Costumes are optional.

“We hope this event will be as successful as our St. Patrick’s day celebration. All of the Zumba instructors have been working on some ghoulish routines just for this evening. The purpose is to have fun and get a great work out all at the same time,” said Debbie Kielmar, lead group fitness instructor at the SOMC LIFE Center.

Prizes, refreshments and Zumba fitness will provide an evening of fun. For more information, please call the SOMC LIFE Center at 356-7650.

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