Local Breast Cancer Advocates Agree to ‘Be The Cure’Posted on November 13, 2007

The SOMC Cancer Center welcomed a hundred breast cancer survivors and supporters to a celebration and call to action Thursday, Nov. 8 at the center.

The guests were treated to refreshments, enjoyed visiting with SOMC Cancer Services staff, were able to hang a celebratory ornament on the center’s Survivor Tree, and agreed to “Be The Cure,” and take the message of getting a mammogram to five of their friends.

SOMC Cancer Physician Liaison Dr. Thomas Khoury welcomed the first group of breast cancer awareness advocates who can be a vital link to reaching women who may be neglecting their own health for the sake of family and other obligations.

Wendi Waugh and Norma White of the Cancer Center, who have been breast cancer patients themselves, spoke to the group about the importance of regular screening. They shared personal stories and urged the attendees to reach out to at least five of their friends who need the message to get a checkup.

For more information on breast cancer screening, call the SOMC Cancer Center at 356-7490.

SOMC Cancer Services Receives Second ACR Radiation Oncology AccreditationPosted on November 13, 2007

received the prestigious three-year accreditation from the American College of Radiology (ACR) in Radiation Oncology.

The SOMC Cancer Center provides radiation oncology services including cancer consultation, radiation therapy treatments, follow-up care, 3D treatment planning and simulation, IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy), BAT (Bimodal Acquisition Targeting System), prostate permanent radioactive seed implantation, and education for cancer patients and their families.

The three-year renewed accreditation is the result of a recent survey by ACR reviewing the high practice standards of SOMC’s Radiation Oncology services. The evaluations are conducted by board-certified physicians and medical physicists.

“SOMC was the first hospital in the region to have ACR accreditation,” SOMC Cancer Services Director Wendi Waugh says. “Even before we opened the new cancer center on Kinneys Lane in late 2004, we were pursuing the highest national standards of cancer care, the use the latest effective technologies and implementing best practices in radiation oncology.”

“We are thrilled to again receive this important accreditation,” Li-fen L. Chang, MD, senior medical director of Radiation Oncology at SOMC, says. “Experts in the field have assessed the qualifications of our staff, the adequacy of our equipment and the quality of our practice. It is an honor to accept this acknowledgement.”

The ACR, headquartered in Reston, Va., awards accreditation to facilities for the achievement of high practice standards after a peer-review evaluation of the practice. The surveyors report their findings to the ACR’s Committee on Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report.

For more information visit, and visit ACR at

Thompson Receives State Home Care HonorPosted on November 13, 2007

Karen Thompson, RN, director of SOMC Home Care, has received the Dorothy Royce Award from the Ohio Council for Home Care, for her work in promoting home care.

Thompson has been a home care professional since 1980 and has been director of SOMC’s program since 1989. She is a past president of the Ohio Council for Home Care and served 10 years on its board.

“Karen has been a strong advocate for home care in Ohio, donating time and money to support/advocate for home care reimbursement and quality improvement,” the council stated. “She is kind and caring in all her actions both professionally and personally, and is an outstanding representative for our industry.”

Thompson was presented the award at the council’s annual awards luncheon Sept. 19 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

In addition to serving on the council’s Political Action, Government Affairs, and Nominations committees, Thompson is a past member of the Compliance and Reimbursement Issues and the Continuing Education Review committees.

Over the past five years Thompson has visited every US senator and US representative from Ohio at their Washington offices to educate legislators about the home care industry. She has testified on behalf of the industry before the Ohio House and Ohio Senate and has been active in the political caucuses on behalf of home care.

Local Runner Thompson In New York Marathon With Armstrong TeamPosted on November 12, 2007

SOMC donation recipient Chad Thompson, right, stands beside world-famous cyclist and Livestrong founder Lance Armstrong, left, after attending a special dinner in New York City for members of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) Livestrong Army. Thompson, a Wheelersburg native, was chosen by the LAF in March as one of eight participants to run on behalf of the organization in the 26-mile ING New York City M

SOMC Doctor Finds Mission Work In Jamaica RewardingPosted on November 6, 2007

SOMC physician Dr. Cindy Hamm (left) and volunteer nurse Dawn Watson in a clinic in Jamaica, where they worked for a week in October helping the poor.

“I always swore I would never do mission work,” Dr. Cindy Hamm states, “because I don’t like to be uncomfortable! I hadn’t even lived without air conditioning since I was 23.”

And yet, for a week in October, Dr. Hamm and her husband, Bill, joined 16 others in the sweltering heat of St. Mary’s Parish, the most poverty-stricken district on the island of Jamaica, to help the poor and the sick.

“It was awesome,” she says of being able to help patients in one urban and two rural clinics, where individuals were so poor they were buying Tylenol pills one at a time instead of by the bottle.

“Our group brought seven suitcases of medicine and supplies donated by pharmacies and physicians from our area and it was wonderful to be able to give this free medicine to people who normally simply did not have anything.”

Once word spread that “the American doctors are here,” large groups of patients showed up, some waiting for hours outside the clinic in the sun.

For Dr. Hamm, the illnesses she saw were surprising, not because they were exotic but because they were so familiar. Most cases were not that different from what she has seen practicing family medicine in Minford with Southern Ohio Medical Center.

“Hypertension, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, tooth pain from poor dental care,” she says. “Some people, who had seen the blindness and loss of limbs that can result from these common conditions, showed up to be screened and proactive about their health.”

The Hamms went on the trip with Lucasville Center Street United Methodist Church Pastor Phil Howard and his wife, Wanda, and others from Kentucky, California, Missouri and Maryland. Dr. Hamm also brought along third-year medical student Mark Cheney and a local nurse.

SOMC medical student Mark Cheney with a young patient at one of the clinics in Jamaica where he and Dr. Cindy Hamm volunteered for a week.

“The goal was both medical mission and work mission,” she explains. “Several in the group worked at an orphanage where two buildings had burned, cleaning up debris and helping with repairs.”

She praised the work of student Cheney and the others on the team, who brought help, hope and touched countless lives during that week, though the conditions were sometimes challenging.

“I was in this box-like office just big enough for me to sit across from the patient, with a sheet pulled behind me to hide the exam table I was sharing with another physician at the clinic, and a plywood door held with a nail led out of this tiny room,” Dr. Hamm says.

During their trip members of the group visited an “infirmary,” a barrack-like nursing home lined with beds for the elderly and disabled.

“We gave all of the infirmary patients some candy, just some ordinary bulk candy we had brought,” she recalls, “and you know that expression you see in a baby’s face when he or she tastes something sweet for the first time? I saw that in their faces. It was very, very moving.”

Also during the trip, Dr. Hamm’s group visited Dunns River Falls in nearby Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and she was proud to be “the only person over age 29 who climbed all the way to the top” of the natural rock formation above the swirling waters in the national park “even if I did fall twice and lost my glasses there.”

Dr. Hamm and her group extended a tremendous thank you to the local pharmacies and physicians for their kind donations of medical supplies for the people who were served.

“I think everyone should have to go on a mission like this,” she concludes. “Especially teens and young people, so they can see how others live who have nothing, and understand how rewarding it can be to reach out and help others.”

Anyone who may be interested in the mission work or donating medical supplies for future trips can call Dr. Hamm at her Minford Family Practice office, 820-2141.

Local Pampered Chefs Support SOMC GuildPosted on November 2, 2007

The SOMC Promise Guild, which supports patients of the SOMC Cancer Center, recently accepted $1,500 from local Pampered Chef consultants Lesley Book and Becky Davis, who held fundraising activities for the group’s cause. For more information on how an organization can raise charity support like that awarded to the Promise Guild, contact Book at 464-0911 or Davis at 574-1946. Shown (l-r) are guild members Joyce Payton, Anna Cardenas, Guild President Barb Hemming, Davis, Book, and guild members Sherrill Day and Marilyn Mercer.

SOMC Pediatrics Staff Celebrates National Pediatric Nurse WeekPosted on October 30, 2007

The Pediatrics staff of Southern Ohio Medical Center celebrated National Pediatric Nurse Week Oct. 9-15, with a special day of educational and celebratory sessions Oct. 11. The group reviewed clinical outcomes, discussed patient-centered best practices and celebrated the unit’s achievements. Guest speakers included SOMC’ Valerie DeCamp, director of Inpatient Services and Accreditation, and Marsha Williams, RN, MSN, C-NNP, a neonatal nurse practitioner from Cabell Huntington Hospital who discussed neonatal abstinence and drug-addicted babies. Shown are Nurse Manager Malissa Warrick with members of the staff.

Relatives of Aneurysm Patients Urged To Get ScreenedPosted on October 26, 2007

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 ConferencePosted on October 19, 2007

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 MammogramPosted on October 18, 2007

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 or call (800) 962-7876.

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