Category Archives: Find A Doctor
Dr. Rebecca Adams’ path to becoming a physician wasn’t easy – but having her family at her side made it a little easier.
It started early in her life. Even as an 18-year-old girl working in dietary services, she had a passion for patient care. She loved sitting with the patients and would take extra time to prepare their trays and keep them company. So it’s only logical that, when she returned to school later in life, she decided to get a degree in accounting.
Yes, accounting. It was the first step on a winding journey to becoming the provider she is today.
“I thought, gosh, this isn’t really what I want to do but I love the numbers and maybe it will get me in the medical field somewhere,” Dr. Adams recalled. That opportunity first presented itself in 2002 when she was offered a job working at the former Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital.
She started out working with an OB/GYN named Dr. Shah. She worked her way up from a receptionist to the office manager – and asked plenty of questions along the way. The experience helped solidify her decision to directly pursue her love for patient care.
“I was really inquisitive,” she said. “Dr. Shah would teach me along the way. When she retired in 2008, I decided to go back to school.”
She became a full-time student with a part-time job, who was also raising two pre-teen children alongside a husband with a demanding position at AK Steel. The situation forced her to find study time wherever she could.
“I can remember putting the kids to bed, and sitting in their bed with my books all around me trying to get work done,” she said. “My oldest played basketball, and I would sit in the stands during his games doing schoolwork.”
It wasn’t easy, but she knew it had to be done. She also knew she wasn’t willing to sacrifice time with her kids, so carving out time to juggle both was the only option. After graduating with honors, she moved to Pikeville and started medical school.
“I knew it was a big sacrifice,” Dr. Adams said. “It was a financial burden, then uprooting our kids and things like that… There’s a lot that went into it. I could not have done it without the support of my husband, my kids, my parents and my strong faith in God.”
It was hard, and she admits there were moments when she thought she’d made a mistake. On her first day of anatomy lab, she was confronted with a cadaver and left in tears. “I remember leaving, calling my husband and bawling my eyes out saying, ‘I can’t do this.’”
With the help of a strong support structure, she kept going. Then, because nothing about her path could be easy, the final year of her residency coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We had to adapt how we were seeing patients,” she said. “Some of us went to the hospice COVID unit. It was very scary. We were hearing of residents who were being sent in and dying in New York, but part of you wanted to be there and soldier through for the patients.”
It was like nothing she’d ever seen before, but – like every other challenge she overcame – it made her a better physician.
“I look at hurdles differently now,” she said. “I’m constantly looking for ways to work around them, or nay way I can improve and be a better physician for my patients.”
Even the financial hardships she endured while returning to school have made her better, as it’s resulted in a more thoughtful approach to patients of limited means. “There were times when we were digging through our car for change so we could buy bread. It has not been an easy journey.”
As hard as it was, though, she is convinced now that she made the right decision. Not only does she love what she does, she loves where she does it. And she loves that she’s been able to do it all while still putting her family first.
“The kids still talk about how proud they are,” she says. “Through it all, I’ve always put my family first. They always come first, regardless.”
Dr. Rebecca Adams practices at the SOMC Family Practice and Specialty Associates located in the Bellefonte Centre in Russell, Kentucky. To schedule an appointment, call 606-324-0098.
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 1248 Kinney’s Lane 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.
As part of the closing of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Bellefonte
Ironton Urgent Care and Primary Care will be transitioning to Southern Ohio
Medical Center. The shift to becoming SOMC’s Ironton Family Health Center is
expected to occur by the end of April.
Providers transitioning to SOMC include: two urgent care
providers, Dr. Roland Benton and Dr. Bryan Fuller, and two primary care
providers, Dr. James Meadows and Kristie Johnson, NP.
“It’s important to us that we do what we can to help the
employees and the community impacted by OLBH’s closing,” SOMC President and CEO
Ben Gill said. “This ensures the patients in Lawrence County can continue to be
treated in the same building, by the same providers and staff. We have been
working with Bon Secours Mercy Health to make the transition as smooth as
The Ironton urgent care is located at 1015 E Ring Road in
Ironton, Ohio. It will continue to see patients during the transition.
There she was.
For the second consecutive year, Dr. Kemmely Hochstetler found herself basking in the glow of victory at the Red Cross’ charity dance competition, Dancing With Our Stars. The previous year, she was invited to participate as a local “star.” This time, she wasn’t invited to participate at all.
Still, there she was. A back-to-back champion in the most dramatic, and chaotic, way possible.
In an alternate universe where everything goes as planned, Kemmely and her husband, Marion, would have sat in the audience and watched Andrea Ryan light up the stage with someone else. That was the plan until Andrea’s partner told her he was pulling out of the competition just 48 hours before the show.
When that message arrived, Andrea’s heart sank. After the hours of practice, after all of her fundraisers, she would have little choice but to drop out as well.
“When I got that text, I thought, ‘I’m just going to have to let someone else have my money,’” Andrea said. “Then, within 30 minutes, I got a text from Kemmely.”
It was 11:30pm when Kemmely first heard about Andrea’s situation. By midnight, the two were on the phone discussing her options. Andrea still wanted to compete. After all, the competition is all about fundraising and she’d already raised a lot of money. With all the factors laid out, there was really only one solution: Kemmely would take her partner’s place.
By the end of their midnight chat, Andrea had a new partner but she still needed a routine. So, while other competitors were preparing for their dress rehearsals, Andrea and Kemmely started building a brand new routine from scratch.
“She came over to my house at noon, and we basically rehearsed until our heads were pounding from dehydration and exhaustion,” Kemmely said.
With some help from Debbie Kielmar of the SOMC LIFE Center and Dr. John Turjoman, the two choreographed a dance and practiced for five hours straight. They met up the day of the event and practiced again, cramming in as many run-throughs as they could before the competition began.
Because they had missed the dress rehearsal, the first time they would perform their routine on stage would be during the actual event. While others were enjoying the evening, Andrea and Kemmely were pacing and praying. They were still trying to figure out where to place the various props for their performance up until the moment the curtains opened.
“Backstage, we kept moving the chairs around because we really couldn’t figure out how to position them,” Kemmely said.
The duo pulled help from wherever they could find it. Kemmely’s husband found himself seated on stage instead of in the audience. Guests who had planned to watch the event beside them were recruited to be stagehands. They scrambled and prayed to cap off a whirlwind experience with an event-ready routine.
Instead, they capped it off with an event-winning one.
“I wanted to cry. I was just like, ‘We did it,’” Andrea said.
Andrea’s story is an example of what you can achieve when you fight through adversity, but it’s also a reminder that a rocky road can lead you places a paved one never goes. In Andrea’s case, the courage with which she faced down her challenge was not lost on the donors in attendance.
“Andrea had a lot of sponsors that came to bat for her the day of the actual event, which is not uncommon. A lot of these things get won the day of the actual event,” Kemmely said. “That was definitely the case for her, as well. She had some big sponsors come in that night.”
In the end, Andrea’s efforts earned $41,192 for the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. It also earned her a story almost too good to be true, and a big shiny trophy to prove it really happened.
Even if it wasn’t supposed to.
For Dr. Iyore James, the road to medical school had a deep, personal meaning. She didn’t decide to go to just help people, she studied to go back and help her native country, Nigeria. Recently, Dr. James was able to make that dream a reality.
Dr. James is currently a doctor specializing in general surgery with the SOMC Surgical Associates. Before her time with SOMC, she had ambition to not only serve this country, but also the people of her home country.
“I am of Nigerian descent. One of the reasons I went to medical school is because of my experiences growing up in Nigeria,” James said. “I wanted to go and give back, so this was one of I’m hoping, many service trips.”
She was able to travel with a friend of hers, Dr. Obi Ekwenna, a transplant urologist at the University of Toledo.
“We are both of Nigerian descent, she said. “There is limited availability of surgical specialists in Nigeria. This is our way of giving back.”
Dr. James travelled a total of 15 hours one way for the five-day trip, and in those short five days was able to perform two kidney transplants with her friend.
Although she was able to make a huge impact on the people there, she described the impact the trip had on her. Being able to make difference in the place she calls home is her long-term dream that she is now working towards.
The enthusiasm of the people there also excited and motivated both doctors.
“They want to learn and be able to provide the same type of care you would in a first-world country, so that is exciting to see,” she said.
While in Nigeria, both doctors happened to cross paths with the Minister of Health in Nigeria. They were able to discuss their dreams and goals for healthcare in Nigeria. She described how neat it was to see and build enthusiasm in the federal government.
Upon returning from her trip, Dr. James reflected not only on the impact the days of service had on her while she was in Nigeria, but also on her future work at SOMC.
“A lot of things we have at our disposal here (in the United States), are not available in Nigeria,” she said. “I think experiencing health care conditions in both countries will have a tremendous impact on my career development. On one hand, I appreciate the abundance of resources and learn how to not be so wasteful.
On the other hand, you learn to improvise while getting the job done safely in an environment with limited resources.
She said she would recommend the service trips to those who might be interested, but explains the possibility of culture shock.
For her, one major priority of the service trip was education. “It is essential to educate, to train so as to build the local capacity of health care providers in Nigeria. It is not just enough to do a procedure. There needs to be transfer of skill set,” she said.
From all that she experienced from the trip, Dr. James emphasized the generosity of SOMC for making her journey to Nigeria possible.
“The warehouse supplied so many things, some things I didn’t even think about that would be needed,” she said.
Dr. James is looking forward to her next trip to Nigeria in March. She said the warehouse is already preparing supplies for her upcoming trip. She is going back for a longer stay in a few months with a focus on general surgery, although she will also perform kidney transplants.
This is only the beginning of Dr. James’s mission to fulfill her lifelong dream of helping her native country. We are thankful to have her as part of the SOMC family.
Life is a lot like riding a horse.
Taking that first step up to place a foot in a horse saddle is not always an easy task. When one finally makes it onto the saddle, the work isn’t over. The ride is just beginning. Learning to ride a horse requires time, diligence and patience. Being a successful rider also requires steering outside of a comfort zone and taking the reins.
Amanda Williams treats making the decisions of her life a lot like how she learned to ride a horse. In her life, she had to make many decisions that required patience and diligence to reach where she is today.
“I kind of took the long way around,” Williams said.
Williams life teaches that taking the long path is sometimes required to reach the intended location.
“My husband was in the navy for a long time and we got transferred to Georgia,” Williams said, “So, I was a housewife for a while.”
She said she originally saw herself becoming a veterinarian or practicing medicine. With those intentions, she went to college planning for either one of those paths by studying biology and chemistry as a double major.
During that time, she had to reroute her plans and take a break from school for a while to follow her husband to Georgia as he served our country.
“If you really want something, don’t give up,” Williams said.
Sometimes tightening up the reins of life is required to push forward outside of a comfort zone. That is exactly what Amanda Williams did when she moved back to Peebles from Georgia with her husband and two children. She mounted up and trotted back to her path of following her dreams of practicing medicine.
Life might not always be a short, easy ride, but Williams showed perseverance to take control of the reign of her own life.
Having patience and following her path led Williams to Southern Ohio Medical Center, where she is now a nurse practitioner specializing in cardiology.
The first step isn’t always easy and the ride isn’t always smooth. It takes determination and grit like Amanda Williams to get back on the intended path, no matter how long it takes to get to the destination. Her path teaches that no matter the conditions, all it takes is that first step and a tight grip on life.
When Krystal Heggestad was a child, long before she considered becoming a midwife, she began playing a key role in the miracle of birth.
Sometimes, Krystal said all she had to do was stand back and let it happen. Other times, she would actively coax the reluctant baby out of the womb. Even as a child, though, Krystal was willing to do whatever it took to facilitate the birth of a beautiful baby pig.
That’s right. Pig.
“I lived on a farm,” Krystal explained, “so I actually delivered pigs to start with. That got me interested in caring for people, and that lead me into medicine.”
There aren’t many similarities between caring for a pregnant pig and caring for a pregnant human, but Krystal’s childhood experiences developed into the lifelong passion that drives her career to this day. She has demonstrated a willingness to expand her skillset, even studying traditional Chinese medicine as a student, and considers more than just a patient’s medical condition when providing treatment.
“I think medicine’s going that way now, with the more holistic approach to caring,” Krystal said. “It’s something that really helps me in my midwifery… Just taking all aspects of what’s going on in a person’s life and pulling that into the decision-making.”
Krystal is excited to bring her abilities to Southern Ohio Medical Center in part because of the positive comments she’d heard about the facility while working at Ohio State.
“We would get patients from SOMC, and they would always have very positive things to say about the hospital,” she said.
Since arriving in Portsmouth, she’s also been impressed by the area’s sense of community.
“It’s been amazing. Everybody’s been so helpful, and that’s nice, especially coming from larger institutions where you had to navigate on your own and try to figure things out,” Krystal said.
Living in southern Ohio also makes it possible for her to return to her roots, a bit. She expressed an interest in having a hobby farm at some point. “With goats and horses,” she added.
And maybe, if she’s still up to it, a baby pig or two.
As a physician, Dr. Kemmely Hochstetler is no stranger to making a difference. Still, she’s never done it quite the way she’ll be doing it for the Red Cross.
That’s because Dr. Hochstetler is being featured as a star in the organization’s annual “Dancing With Our Stars” fundraiser. She is partnered with Dr. John Turjoman.
The twin pillars of the event are dancing and fundraising. Prior to becoming a contestant, those were two areas in which she had limited experience.
“I have never done anything like this, not from a fundraising standpoint or a dancing standpoint,” Dr. Hochstetler said. “It’s daunting to think about dancing on stage in front of 500 people, but at the send of the day, this is for the Red Cross. I’m going to put my best foot forward and have fun with it.”
Dr. Hochstetler said she has already learned a lot from the competition, both about the Red Cross and about herself. For example, she learned that she experiences notable vertigo and that some of the more acrobatic moves she had envisioned incorporating into her routine would not work.
Nonetheless, she is optimistic the audience will enjoy her performance, the specifics of which are a closely guarded secret.
Of course, putting on a good show is only one of her goals for the competition.
“I’m pretty competitive,” Dr. Hochstetler said. “I can’t deny it’d be great to represent SOMC well and win the trophy.”
For more information about Dr. Kemmely Hochstetler’s involvement in Dancing With Our Stars, visit her crowdfunding page at https://www.crowdrise.com/dwosORV2017/fundraiser/kemmelyhochstetler1.
Mohammad M. Kalo, MD, has been elected to serve as the Chief of Staff for the Board of Directors of Southern Ohio Medical Center. His term, which began Jan. 1, will remain effective through December 2017.
Dr. Kalo has practiced Internal Medicine in the Wheelersburg area since 2001. He received his medical degree from Damascus University in Damascus, Syria and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Kalo served as the SOMC Chief of Medicine from 2001 to 2012. He resides in Wheelersburg with his wife, Hala, and their three children.
Dr. Suzann Bonzo was recently awarded the Scioto County Medical Society’s “Outstanding Physician Award” at the organization’s annual installation dinner.
The award ceremony featured several personal touches, including an introduction by Rebecca Bonzo White and a plethora of decorated desserts baked by Dr. Bonzo herself. The desserts, which also served as centerpieces for the tables, included “Cherry Chip Cake,” “Queen Bee Yellow Cake,” “Snowflake Almond Cake” and more.
The award was a recognition of the successes Dr. Bonzo has enjoyed so far in her career, which began with a Portsmouth private practice in 1981. At the time, she was one of the area’s only female physicians.
Dr. Bonzo’s record of accomplishment includes the founding of SOMC Hospice, which has grown from a single patient to a daily census of more than 130 patients in five counties. There are plans to expand the current inpatient unit from 12 beds to 16. Funds for that expansion are being raised by the SOMC Development Foundation through a campaign known as Transcending Lives.
Dr. Bonzo also maintains a fulfilling life outside of medicine. She enjoys cooking and gardening, and lists swimming as her favorite form of exercise. For more information about Dr. Bonzo or SOMC Hospice, visit somc.org.