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SVRMC Can Help You With Open Enrollment

Penalty fee for not having health insurance increases this year

Emporia, VA - Beginning November 1, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) will again help area residents learn about and enroll in health insurance options on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Open enrollment for health coverage:Nov. 1, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2016To make an appointment for enrollment or re-enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace or Medicaid, call(434) 348-4406

As part of the Affordable Care Act, most U.S. citizens were required to have health insurance beginning in 2014. Since the passage of the ACA five years ago, about 16.4 million uninsured people have gained health coverage. Yet, approximately 30 million Americans remain uninsured.

“As a primary health provider in southern Virginia, our goal is to help educate residents in an easy-to-understand way, as well as assist those who haven’t  yet signed up for health insurance or Medicaid, if qualified,” said Matt Tavenner, CEO of SVRMC. “During the next few months, we’ll be out in the community and meeting one-on-one to help these individuals find affordable coverage.”

Health Plans on Health Insurance Marketplaces
The Health Insurance Marketplace provides U.S. citizens access to affordable health insurance coverage. Depending on household income, some individuals may qualify for government financial assistance– or subsidies – towards the cost of the premium and other financial obligations like co-pays or deductibles.

All health plans on the Marketplace must offer a comprehensive set of benefits, and coverage cannot be denied for individuals with a pre-existing health condition. Some of the health benefits include free preventive care and wellness services, doctor visits, prescription drugs, hospital and emergency department care, lab services, pediatric services – and more.

The penalty fee for not having insurance has increased this year. If you can afford health insurance coverage in 2016, but don’t sign up, you may have to pay a penalty ($695 per adult, $347.50 per child – up to $2,085/family or 2.5% of family income, whichever is higher). You will have to pay the fee on the federal income tax return you file. And, without insurance, you will be financially responsible for all of your medical costs.

“This is where SVRMC can assist,” said Tavenner. “With many people not having access to a computer or having difficulty maneuvering on the government website, our application counselors can help individuals and their families evaluate the health plan options and determine if they are eligible for Medicaid or other financial assistance. We’ll also help with re-enrollment.

If you can afford health insurance coverage in 2016, but don’t sign up, you may have to pay a penalty ($695 per adult, $347.50 per child – up to $2,085/family or 2.5% of family income, whichever is higher).


Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources.

“While Virginia has not expanded Medicaid, government subsidies to help citizens obtain coverage are available, depending on income and other qualifications,” explained Tavenner. “We can help screen these individuals and if they qualify, we can enroll them at any time, with health coverage beginning immediately.”

Though a major function of is assessing whether individuals and families qualify for financial assistance to lower the cost of health insurance, SVRMC’s application counselors can perform the same analysis and help with enrollment and re-enrollment. To make an appointment to meet with an application counselor, call 434-348-4406.

“Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center is committed to improving the health of the communities we serve by helping residents gain access to healthcare services,” said Tavenner.


Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Earns Excellence Through Insight Award for Overall Employee Satisfaction

Emporia, VA – Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) was recently recognized with an Excellence Through Insight award for “Overall Employee Satisfaction” in the Medium Hospital category by HealthStream, Inc.

SVRMC was awarded this honor for its commitment to excellence in employee satisfaction. To qualify for an award, a hospital must have been an employee satisfaction client of HealthStream in 2014 and scored in the 75th percentile or better. SVRMC was chosen for receiving the highest ratings in employee satisfaction from among HealthStream’s clients, as well as for exceeding industry standards.

HealthStream CEO Robert A. Frist, Jr. said “We applaud Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center’s high-level commitment to excellence in healthcare and are pleased to recognize their achievement through our presentation of an Excellence through Insight award.”



(EMPORIA, VA) – Troy Watson has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for June 2015. Mr. Watson, who has been employed at SVRMC since May 2008, is an Engineering Technician in the Engineering Department.

Employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior highlighted during that month. The highlighted Standard of the Month for June was Responsiveness. Mr. Watson was nominated by his department manager who wrote, “There are many things Engineering is asked to do or to assist with every day, from the toilet that might not be working correctly to being asked to assist with someone’s car that will not start. Troy readily responds to any request for assistance, and always does so in a professional manner. Troy is a hard worker and is dedicated to his job and our organization. He is a go-to guy that is always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. We can always count on Troy to be there when we need him; he answers all of our requests, and offers assistance without being asked to do so. Troy is known throughout the facility, and is respected by his coworkers, peers, SVRMC staff and administration.”

As SVRMC’s June Employee of the Month, Mr. Watson received a certificate, balloons, cookies to share with his co-workers in the Engineering Department, a cash prize and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2015 Employee of the Year.


Matters of the Heart

Men and women experience heart attacks differently

Emporia, VA By: Saquib Samee, MD– According to the American Heart Association: 

  • Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is leading cause of death in America, accounting for 1 in every 5 deaths
  • In America, someone will suffer a coronary event every 29 seconds, and one will die every minute
  • Approximately 250,000 Americans die each year of CHD without ever being hospitalized.

These statistics are daunting, and for those who have never experienced a heart attack, recognizing and identifying symptoms as heart related may not be as easy as one would think.  Hollywood would have us all believe that heart attacks begin with sudden, sharp chest pain, staggering and ultimately collapse. In reality, the signs of a heart attack are much more subtle, and may vary from person to person making it difficult for the average individual to accurately identify.

We’ve all heard about the differences between Mars and Venus when it comes to men and women, and matters of the heart. These differences hold true when it comes to heart health, as well. Knowing how to recognize the early symptoms of a possible heart attack, can help men, women and their doctors prevent it, or intervene in time to minimize the damaging effects on the heart.

Men usually experience what we know as the “classic” signs of a heart attack, which include any combination of heavy squeezing or chest pain, discomfort in areas of the upper body (arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach), stomach/abdominal pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, lightheadedness, cold sweat and/or nausea.

Women suffering a heart attack sometimes experience chest pain, but not as frequently as men, and they experience other symptoms that people don’t generally link to heart trouble like unusual/unexplained fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion, anxiety, dizziness, cold sweats, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. The onset of these symptoms often occurs much earlier in women than in men, whose symptoms typically come either rightbefore, or during a heartattack.  This is supported by research by the National Institutes of Health that indicates womensometimes experience different physical symptoms as long as a month or more before experiencing a heart attack. In a  2007 study of more than 500 women, 95 percent of participants reported experiencing new symptoms at least a month before their heart attack, including unusual fatigue, sleep disturbance and shortness of breath. Less than 30 percent of women studied experienced chest pains prior to the attack, and 43 percent had no chest pain during the attack. Other symptoms included indigestion and anxiety. The study was one of the first to examine the differences in the way men and women experience a heart attack.

Knowing the differences is important for many reasons. Women who experienced these non-traditional symptoms did not identify them as a heart attack and put off seeking medical attention, significantly decreasing their chances for preventing, or surviving, the attack. The American Heart Association estimates that about 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital.

The reason these differences are just now coming to light is that heart disease has, for decades, been considered a man’s disease, so naturally, research focused primarily on men. However, cardiovascular disease has claimed the lives of more women than men every year since 1984, thus making it clear that heart disease isn’t just a men’s disease.         

Remember that symptoms may come and go. Even if you’re not sure if it’s a heart attack, it’s important to be checked by a doctor. New medications and treatments are now available that can stop some heart attacks in progress and save lives, but these drugs must be administered at the first sign of heart attack symptoms for maximum effectiveness.

Talk to your doctor about steps you can take to educate yourself about heart health and any recommended health screenings based on your individual profile.  Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack and how to minimize its effects will help ensure that you and your loved ones maintain good heart-health for many years to come.

The information in this article was provided by Saquib Samee, MD.  Dr. Samee, an interventional cardiologist, provides in a variety of services, and practices all aspects of interventional cardiology including, echocardiogram, stress echocardiogram, transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), carotid ultrasound, nuclear stress test, preventive cardiology, coronary artery angiogram, coronary artery intervention, intervention via radial artery, peripheral vascular studies, peripheral arterial angiogram, peripheral stent placement, and transradial catheterizations.   His practice is located at 6 Doctor’s Drive in Emporia.  For more information on services offered by Dr. Samee or to schedule an appointment, call 434-336-1900.



EMPORIA, VA – In today’s world, picking up a newspaper or tuning in to any news program often seems like a fictional crime drama.  Thankfully, every once in a while a bit of heartwarming news comes along that restores the belief that there are still compassionate and loving people out there who go the extra mile to make a difference out of the goodness of their hearts.  Recently, one of Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center’s (SVRMC) physical therapists (PT) did just that when she went beyond what is required or expected to help a patient get a new wheelchair. 

PT patient, Earl Hargrove, has a history of chronic strokes that dates back over 12 years.  A couple of years ago, one such event left Mr. Hargrove completely wheelchair bound.  During a recent PT appointment, his PT noticed that his personal wheelchair was in extremely poor condition.  Taking the matter into her own hands, she asked other staff in the department about wheelchair regulations, and how she might go about obtaining a new and properly working wheelchair for him.  By chance, a fellow patient, who asked to remain anonymous, had mentioned that she had a wheelchair that she no longer needed, and that she would love to donate it to anyone who may be in need.  This patient told the staff, “If that was me, I would love for someone to have done the same for me.”  In addition to the wheelchair, a customized seat cushion was also donated to Mr. Hargrove, and both items appeared to be in perfect condition!  Both Mr. Hargrove and his wife are truly grateful for the unexpected acts of kindness from staff, and the generous gift of “new wheels” from a stranger.


Eye Health: Vision Basics & Exams

Emporia, VA, Thomas J. Robertson MD; To maintain proper eye health and vision, it is important to visit an eye doctor periodically if you have normal vision and no symptoms of a problem, and immediately if there is sudden vision loss, eye pain or irritation.  Having a complete exam with an eye doctor is important because most eye diseases can be treated when found in the early stages.  If health problems such as diabetes exist, visiting the eye doctor more frequently may be necessary to detect any complications. 

Your eye doctor will take a thorough medical and ophthalmic history, followed by an examination, which can be simple or complex, depending on your eyes, medical conditions and any current eye complaints. Visiting an eye doctor does not need to be intimidating, especially if you are aware of a few special tests that may be performed during an eye exam.

Refraction measures the eye’s refractive error, or need for glasses at both distance and near.  Doctors will ask patients to look at a chart, usually 20 feet away, through a special instrument known as a phoropter.  The doctor will ask which of the choices looks clearer, which will determine the appropriate prescription needed for glasses or contacts.  Adding magnification to the distance prescription as the patient focuses on a near card mounted on a Prince Rule constitutes the near test to determine bifocal or progressive add power.

A Slit-lamp Exam looks at the front of the eye by shining a beam of light shaped like a small slit on the eye.  This eye test can be used to help diagnose cataracts, retinal detachments, conditions of the eyelids, conditions of the cornea and other ocular surface structures, including the tear film.

Tonometry helps doctors diagnose glaucoma by measuring the amount of pressure needed to flatten a portion of the cornea, using either the Goldmann applanation tonometer or a specialized strain gauge called a Tonopen.  Both instruments are used after the cornea (clear front window of the eye) is anesthetized with special eye drops.  The Goldmann requires the use of a yellow dye called fluorescein and a blue light; the Tonopen requires only the anesthetic drop.

During Pupillary Dilation the doctor places special drops in the eye that cause the pupil to dilate, or expand.  By dilating the pupils, the doctor can examine the retina, optic nerve, and vitreous gel for signs of disease.  The doctor normally uses handheld magnifying lenses with either a slit lamp (biomicroscopy) or a head-worn indirect ophthalmoscope.  For most ophthalmic photographs, the pupils are dilated ahead of time, but with a non-mydriatic fundus camera, photos can be taken without dilation.

During Corneal Topography, a computer is used to create a “map” of the curvature of the cornea.  The computer analysis will show any distortions of the cornea such as scarring, or astigmatism.  This eye test is used to screen patients before they undergo certain eye surgeries, such as cataract extraction with toric (astigmatism-correcting) intraocular lens implantation or corneal transplants; before they’re fitted for contact lenses; and for the diagnosis of such corneal dystrophies as keratoconus.

Keratometry measures corneal curvature for cataract surgery planning and contact lens fitting.  Either Ultrasound or Partial Coherence Interferometry is used to measure eye length to aid in intraocular lens selection for cataract surgery.

Fluorescein Angiogram(FA) is used to evaluate the blood circulation in the retina.  It is useful in helping diagnose diabetic retinopathy, new blood vessel growth (neovascularization) in age-related macular degeneration and other macular disorders, and retinal detachment.  During this eye test, fluorescein dye is injected into a vein in the hand or arm and the dye quickly travels to the blood vessels.  Once the dye reaches the eye, a specialized camera equipped with distinctive filters that highlight the dye is used to photograph the fluorescein as it circulates through the blood vessels in the back of the eye, potentially leaking into extravascular spaces and highlighting macular disease, such as circulation problems, swelling, leaking or abnormal blood vessels in the eye. 

Ocular Coherence Tomographyor OCT is now nearly ubiquitous and has supplanted FA for most retinal imaging.  OCT requires no injections and gives the doctor a good look at topographic and cross-sectional retinal and optic nerve anatomy, creating images that look much like those of an MRI.

Ultrasounduses sound waves to provide a picture of the eye’s internal structure.  This exam is useful in evaluating tumors as well as the retina.  Ultrasound is often used when cloudy ocular media preclude optical visualization of the structures in the back of the eye.

While a patient may experience pressure on the eye, none of these tests are painful beyond the momentary sting of eye drops or of the IV needle insertion for FA.    Most vision health coverage plans will cover a portion or all of the expenses associated with vision care.  Most medical insurance plans cover eye examinations for medical diagnoses of the eye (like cataract or glaucoma) or for systemic diseases that can affect the eye (like diabetes). 

The information in this article was provided by Thomas Robertson, MD, who is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.  Dr. Robertson practices general medical and surgical Ophthalmology, with special interests in cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, anterior segment disease and pediatric ophthalmology.  His practice, Watson Eye Associates, is located at 400Nash medical Arts Mall, Rocky Mount, NCwitha satellite office conveniently located at 508 Belfield Drive, in Emporia, VA.  For more information on services offered by Dr. Robertson or to schedule an appointment, call (252) 443-1006 or toll free at 800-241-2015.



(EMPORIA, VA) – Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center is pleased to welcome Christopher Imber, MD, to the Medical Staff. Dr. Imber will begin his Family Medicine practice with Southern Virginia Medical Group (SVMG) located at 511A Belfield Drive in Emporia on July 6th.

Dr. Imber attended Rutgers College of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, where he earned Bachelors of Art degrees in Biology and Psychology. He completed his medical training at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA followed by a three year family medicine residency at Memorial Hospital of Burlington County in Mt. Holly, NJ. Dr. Imber is certified by the American Board of Family Physicians.

As a Family Physician, Dr. Imber welcomes patients of all ages, and is now accepting new patients. For more information on services offered by Dr. Imber, or to schedule an appointment, contact SVMG at 434-348-4680.




(EMPORIA, VA) – David Mulkey has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for May 2015.  Mr. Mulkey, who has been employed at SVRMC since March 2012, is a registered nurse (RN) on the Behavioral Health Unit.    

Employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior highlighted during that month.  The highlighted Standard of the Month for May was Patient Privacy.  Mr. Mulkey was nominated by a co-worker from his department who wrote, “David respects the privacy of all of his patients and all of those in his unit.  David makes sure that he knocks when entering every patient room, introduces himself, and maintains confidentiality and privacy in all interactions that he has with each patient. Confidentially and privacy is of the utmost importance on the Behavioral Health Unit, and David sets great example of respecting both in all of his work tasks.   David ensures that all patient information is kept private, and that only those that have a need to know, are allowed access to patient information.  David ensures that all patient family members that request information on our patients have permission to receive that information before he gives it out.  David is an asset to SVRMC and advocate for patient privacy, respect, and confidentiality.”

As SVRMC’s May Employee of the Month, Mr. Mulkey received a certificate, balloons, cookies to share with his co-workers on the Behavioral Health Unit, a cash prize and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2015 Employee of the Year.





BY: GHIAS RANA, MD; Emporia, VA - Many women can recall with a smile their teenage escapades and gossip sessions punctuated with giggling fits and the inevitable comment: “I laughed so hard, I almost wet my pants!” As we age, however, urinary incontinence is anything but a laughing matter.

Stress incontinence is a type of incontinence that involves involuntary leaking of urine from the bladder when it’s under pressure. This condition can develop as the muscles that support the bladder become weaker due to the natural aging process, childbirth or certain medical conditions.

More than 15 million women in the United States have stress urinary incontinence. A 2008 Kaiser Permanente study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that one in three women experiences stress incontinence, and the percentage of affected women increases with age. The study surveyed more than 4,000 women aged 25 to 84 – the most extensive research on the subject to date.

Stress incontinence occurs when pressure is placed on the abdominal area by physical activity such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting a heavy object. When the muscles that hold the bladder and control the flow of urine don’t function properly, accidents can happen – especially if the bladder is full. Stress incontinence affects more women than men, and can range from an occasional problem to a medical situation that affects your daily routine by limiting your participation in social, work or exercise activities.

The most common cause of female stress incontinence is damage to tissues or nerves in the pelvic floor area during childbirth – which may show up immediately after having a baby, or several years later, after menopause. The condition is common among women who have multiple vaginal births and whose bladder, urethra or rectal wall protrude into the vaginal wall, a condition known as pelvic prolapse.

Age-related changes in the strength and function of muscles can make a woman more susceptible to developing stress incontinence. At menopause, the loss of estrogen means that the tissues of the vagina and urethra are more fragile.

Other medical conditions and lifestyle habits can affect the form and function of the bladder and lead to stress incontinence: urinary tract infections, diabetes, chronic bronchitis or asthma, chronic constipation, previous pelvic surgery (such as a hysterectomy), and obesity. Contributing lifestyle factors include excess caffeine or alcohol consumption, smoking – and therefore, frequent coughing – medications that increase urine production, and high-impact exercise.

More than 60 percent of women with stress incontinence put off discussing the condition with their doctor for a year or more, due to embarrassment, anxiety or lack of knowledge about available treatments. Many women assume that the condition is simply something they must deal with as part of the aging process.

Years ago, surgeries for incontinence were more invasive and painful, involving a long recovery period. The good news is today, there are a variety of treatment options. More than 85 percent of female incontinence cases are treatable, according to five-year data gathered in the United States, Europe and Australia and published last year in the International Uro-Gynecology Journal.

Your doctor can help ease your symptoms with dietary recommendations, a regimen of muscle training exercises, medication or surgery; or, you may be referred to an urologist for further treatment.

Non-surgical treatment includes lifestyle changes – limiting caffeine, losing weight or quitting smoking – or exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor, known as Kegel exercises. Electrical stimulation and biofeedback helps revitalize injured or tired muscles. Hormone creams can restore tissues to their former thickness and renew their support capabilities.

Bladder surgery is an option to provide support or lift the urethra back to a normal position, which aids in urine retention. However, newer, minimally invasive vaginal surgeries and outpatient procedures give women many more options than ever before.

The information in this article was provided by Ghias Rana, MD, a Board Certified Urogyncelogist and Board Certified Ob/Gyn with Southampton Women’s Health with offices in Franklin, VA and at 301 Market Drive, Suite 9 in Emporia. For more information on services offered by Dr. Rana or to schedule an appointment, call at 757-562-2568.


Blood Drive Today!



EMPORIA, VA – Each summer, the supply of blood collected by the American Red Cross (ARC) through volunteer donations drops off significantly, with approximately two fewer donor appointments scheduled at each blood drive than the actual patient need. This decline can add up to as many as 100,000 fewer donations during the months of June, July and August. Unfortunately, the need for lifesaving blood and blood products remains constant throughout the summer season. Approximately 400 blood donations are needed every day to meet the patient demand in Central Virginia. That equates to about 60,000 units needed annually for our geographic area.

As one of more than 2700 hospitals nationwide who depend on the ARC for blood and blood products for our patients, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) will host a blood drive on Tuesday, June 16th from 3:00 PM until 7:00 PM in SVRMC classrooms. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. To schedule an appointment, simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). A blood donor ID or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.

For more information on this blood drive, contact Sandy Webb, Director of Marketing and Physician Recruitment at 434-348-4447.


When to Visit the Emergency Room

By: Fitzgeral Marcelin, MD, Emergency Medical Director at SVRMC

Emporia, VA- In times of crisis, a visit to the emergency room (ER) can be the difference between life and death. In hospitals around the country and here in our own community, qualified caregivers are on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week to address the urgent medical needs of you and your family.

In events such as serious injuries or allergic reactions, the ER is the most appropriate place to go for care. ER staff are in direct contact with ambulance providers and emergency services, and are a vital link in a community’s first response network.

Hospital ERs are designed to treat people who are critically ill or seriously injured.  It is, however, sometimes difficult to determine whether or not a visit to the ER is necessary.  According to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA,) a medical event is an emergency if the health of the individual is in serious jeopardy, there is a serious impairment of bodily functions or there is a serious impairment of a bodily organ. Some conditions generally regarded as medical emergencies include:

  • Severe injury;
  • Signs of a heart attack, such as pressure or pain in the chest;
  • Signs of a stroke, such as severe numbness and loss of vision;
  • Bleeding or vomiting that will not stop;
  • Severe shortness of breath;
  • Severe disorientation; and
  • Medical condition in children less than six months of age.

Because ERs also treat patients with less serious health issues, a triage system is used to identify each patient’s condition, and those with more critical needs are seen first, rather than on a first-come,  first-served basis.  Patients with potentially life-threatening conditions such as a chest pain, shortness of breath or sudden or unexplained loss of consciousness are treated immediately while someone with a minor cut or sore throat may have to wait longer.

Less severe symptoms, such as an aching back, a persistent cough, low grade fever or a runny nose, may not warrant a trip to the emergency room.  A primary care provider (PCP) who has treated members of your family in the past may be a good option for these events because he or she is familiar with your medical history, and treatment in the PCP’s office is usually more cost-effectively than an ER visit. 

However, if you believe your health or the health of a loved one is in jeopardy, it is always best to seek immediate treatment.   Knowing what options for medical care are available in the community and are covered by your insurance will make it easier to determine the best treatment option when a medical issue arises. 

Because emergency room visits are nearly always unexpected, it is wise to keep certain items such as insurance cards and personal identification nearby at all times.  Make a list of your allergies as well as any current or previous medications you are taking and include contact information for your personal physician(s). You should also be familiar with your medical history, including your blood type and any previous or chronic conditions you have experienced. Providing this information will make medical care quicker and easier. 

In the event of an emergency, a visit to the ER can save your life or the life of a loved one.  Experiencing a medical emergency can be frightening, and one way to avoid the need for emergency care is to establish a relationship with a PCP, and maintain a regular schedule of routine and preventative care.  Making regular visits to the doctor and having an in-depth knowledge of your medical history can helpidentify a medical issue before it becomes serious and requires emergency medical care.  Schedule an appointment with your PCP to have a routine checkup and discuss your medical history.

The information in this article was provided by Fitzgerald Marcelin, MD who is certified by American Boards of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, and who serves as the Medical Director of Emergency Services for Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC).  Dr. Marcelin’s practice, Emporia-Greensville Medical Center, is located at 702 North Main Street in Emporia.  For more information on services offered by Dr. Marcelin or to schedule an appointment, call at 434-634-7723.



Emporia, VA – Most people only visit hospitals occasionally, when a loved one is sick or a friend is having a baby. Employees at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) are different in this regard. Each day, more than 300 staff members come to the hospital to provide compassionate, personalized care for friends, neighbors and those they do not know. Our providers work together around the clock, seven days a week to make healthcare available any time it is needed, whether for one person or more in times of community crisis or natural disaster.

Established in 1953, National Hospital Week honors the dedication of all the men and women who deliver and support the care provided in hospitals. The timing of Hospital Week was chosen to coincide with Florence Nightingale’s birthday in recognition of her efforts to revolutionize the way hospitals were run in the United States. Although much has changed in healthcare since the mid- to late-1800s when Nightingale cared for patients, one thing has remained constant: hospitals are foundations of their communities, nurturing and caring for individuals from all walks of life.

Hospitals are significant contributors to the communities they serve. In addition to providing vital health care services, hospitals are also major employers in the community. According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals provide more than 5.5 million jobs across the United States.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) joined with hospitals across the nation in celebration of National Hospital Week May 11-15, and to recognize and thank  the men and women who support the health of their communities through compassionate care, and unwavering dedication to the patients they serve. 

As in past years, staff participate in fund raisers leading up to and throughout Hospital Week to benefit the Emporia/Greensville Relay for Life. On the two Fridays prior to Hospital Week, staff participated in SVRMC Denim Days, collecting $5.00 from staff who wore their favorite jeans to work.  During Hospital Week, all proceeds from the $3.00 and $1.00 lunch special were added to the collection, as well as all funds from raffle tickets were sold throughout the week for prize drawings to be held on Friday.  When all was said and done on the final day of the celebration, staff had raised a total of $1,618.42 that they donated to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.  



EMPORIA, VA – Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) recently honored 2014 retirees and employees with milestone years of service in 2014 at the annual Service Awards Luncheon held during National Hospital Week.  “This was a great opportunity for us to thank our employees for their excellent service,” said Matt Tavenner, SVRMC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  “The dedication of our employees helps SVRMC stand apart from other healthcare providers,” he said. 

As a part of the celebration, staff were invited to a special luncheon where they were recognized for their years of service with a certificate and a gift.  Employees with twenty or more years of service were also presented with flowers. Altogether, three retirees and forty-three employees were recognized for milestone in 2014.  Combined the honorees represent  a total of 754 years of service to SVRMC.

5 Years of Service: Front Row – L to R:  Frances Taylor, Debra Hewitt, Amanda Phillips; Back Row – L to R:  Margaret Robinson, Jan Draper, Ronnie Franklin, Stephanie Duncan, Margaret Bass; Not Pictured – Zhiquita Adams, Jason Henwood, Lacy Wrenn.

10 Year of Service: Front Row – L to R:  Sylvia Ramsey, Tamara Jasper, Sharon Brown, Wanda Crumpler; Back Row – L to R:  Zina Robinson, Lori Harrup, Becky Parrish, Amanda Thomas, Alvin Jackson; Not Pictured:  Kathleen Lawson, Kristin Moseley, Dana Musser.

15 Years of Service: Front Row – L to R:  Danielle Moran, Leavelle Tillar, Wanda Phillips; Back Row:  L – R:  Vernita Gibbons, Loretta Bottoms; Not Pictured:  Cleo Clark.

20 Years of Service: L – R:  Stacy Musselman, Letric Lucas, Beverly Michael.

25 Years of Service: Rosemary Carson; Not Pictured:  Cynthia Jones.

30 Years of Service: Patsy Rose.

35 Year of Service: L – R:  Wilma Taylor, Cassandra Eason, Jay Ewing, Martha Tranka; Not Pictured:  Doris Cooper.

40 Years of Service: L – R:  Pam Low, Nancy Wells

45 Years of Service: Barbara Jordan

Retiring after 33 years of service, Ginnie Davis (second from left) pictured with L – R, Linda Burnette, Chief Nursing Officer, Davis, Peggy Dunn, Director of Surgical Services and Matt Tavenner, Chief Executive Officer.  Retirees not pictured:  Bob Jennings and Dorothy Lee.



(EMPORIA, VA) – Jordain Veliky has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for April 2015.  Ms. Veliky, who has been employed at SVRMC since May 2014, is a registered nurse (RN) on the Acute Care Unit.    

Employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior highlighted during that month.  The highlighted Standard of the Month for April was All Star.  Ms. Veliky was nominated by a co-worker from another department who wrote, “Jordain has excellent communication skills, a quality that is evident in her interactions with patients and family members as well as with staff and physicians.  She explains procedures to patients in a calm and careful manner which puts them at ease. Patients respond well to her because she is consistent, clear, and comforting in her communications.  Jordain practices SBAR with all staff in an effective manner and gladly answers all clinician questions with a smile and full explanation. Not only does she care, but she communicates that she cares. Jordain is an asset to the SVRMC nursing department and to every patient to whom she is assigned.  ”

As SVRMC’s April Employee of the Month, Ms. Veliky received a certificate, balloons, cookies to share with her co-workers on the Acute Care Unit, a cash prize and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2015 Employee of the Year.



Emporia, VA – Earlier this year, a surveyor from The Joint Commission conducted a rigorous, unannounced, on-site survey of the laboratory services department of Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC).   By demonstrating compliance with laboratory standards related to document and process control, healthcare-associated conditions, risk reduction, and staff qualifications and competency, the laboratory services department at SVRMC has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Laboratory Services Accreditation.

Founded in 1951, the Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.  The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.  The Joint Commission has accredited hospital laboratory services since 1979 and freestanding laboratories since 1995. The Joint Commission’s laboratory standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, measurement experts, and patients. The standards are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus to help organizations measure, assess and improve performance. Awarded in two year cycles, more than 1,500 organizations, including laboratories in hospitals, reference labs, blood transfusion and donor centers, public health laboratories, and point-of-care test sites, currently maintain Laboratory Services Accreditation from The Joint Commission.

“Joint Commission accreditation provides laboratories with the processes needed to improve in a variety of areas from specimen collection to result reporting,” said Stacy Olea, MT(ASCP), FACHE executive director, Laboratory Services Accreditation program, The Joint Commission. “We commend (name of organization) for its efforts to have laboratory services contribute and support the overall health care delivery system.”

“Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center is pleased to receive accreditation from The Joint Commission, the premier health care quality improvement and accrediting body in the nation,” added Matthew Tavenner, SVRMC’s Chief Executive Officer. “Pathologists in conjunction with the technical laboratory staff continue to work together to develop and implement approaches and strategies that have the potential to improve care for the patients in our community.”

Front row, left to right:  Nancy Wells, Vickie Michael, Technical Supervisor,  Martha Tranka.  Back row, left to right:  John Summerville, MD, Laboratory Medical Director, Lynn Grant, Jay Ewing,  Administrative Lab Director,  Not Pictured: Kaitlin Rice, Gladys Bowser,  Sheila Crowder, Dana Musser, Danielle Hunter, Cleo Clark, Arletha Young, Jennifer Smith, Elizabeth Ranes, Sherrasha Jones, Kristie Mitchell, Lynn Grant and Dr. John Summerville, Pathologist, Lab Director.

For more information on services offered at SVRMC, go to  Learn more about The Joint Commission at




EMPORIA, VA - Founded in 1917 to represent the interest of occupational therapists, assistants and students nationwide, the American Occupational Therapy Association observed the first Occupational Therapy Day on October 27, 2010.  Since that time, it was grown into a month-long celebration each year in April dedicated to raising awareness of the Occupational Therapy and its contributions to medicine.

The origin of occupational therapy (OT) can be traced back to the 1700’s when views regarding the treatment of the mentally ill began to shift away from the prison ward approach to the more humane method of caring for the person using treatment based on purposeful daily activities known as Moral Treatment and Occupation.  Since that time, the practice has experienced many changes on the path to what we recognize as OT today.  Out of necessity, OT was thrust from obscurity during World War I as practitioners were faced with a multitude of patients suffering from a variety of war related illnesses and injuries.  It was also around this time that occupational therapists (OT’s) treated large numbers of patients with tuberculosis and polio.

Today, OT’s work with patients of all ages who have mental, emotional and/or physical disabilities such as brain injury, spinal cord injury, repetitive stress injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, arthritis, attention deficit disorder, and Parkinson’s.  The goal of occupational therapy is to maintain or reestablish the patients’ independence by developing or regaining skills necessary for play, work, and self and home care, also known as activities of daily living.  This work can be done in many different settings including long term care facilities, outpatient clinics, hospitals, home health agencies and school systems. 

To become an occupational therapist, one must complete an accredited bachelor’s degree program, a supervised fieldwork program and pass the national certification exam administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center is please to recognize and thank Tamekia Donald, Occupational Therapist, for her contributions to the overall health and wellness of the patients she serves.  For more information on occupational therapy services offered at SVRMC, contact Antwan Hatch, Director of Rehab Services, at 434-348-4875.

Photos:  Temekia Donald,  OTR/L, works with patient Lilly Mae Conner to improve strength and dexterity in her hands.



EMPORIA, VA – Southern Virginia Medical Group is pleased to welcome Barton Smith, MD, General Surgeon, to their practice. Dr. Smith will join Southern Virginia Medical Group (SVMG), located at 317-A South Main Street in Emporia on May 4, 2015. 

A lifelong resident of Virginia, Dr. Smith did his undergraduate work and earned Doctor of Medicine from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He then completed a one-year internship at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, and a five-year general surgery residency at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. Dr. Smith is certified by the American Board of Surgery. Shortly after completing his training in 1988, he opened a practice in the Petersburg area, where he continues to practice to this day.   

As a general surgeon, Dr. Smith treats people of all ages, and he is now accepting new patients. Dr. Smith will have office hours at SVMG every other Monday beginning at 8:30 AM. For more information on services offered by Dr. Smith or to schedule an appointment, contact Southern Virginia Medical Group at 434-336-1222 or 434-348-4680.



Emporia, VA – In recognition of Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (MLPW), April 19 - 25, 2015, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) would like to recognize the Laboratory Staff, and thank them for the pivotal role they play in the delivery of healthcare within the organization.

Since the 1920’s, the role of the medical laboratory professional has become increasingly important in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease.  A medical laboratory professional is a healthcare professional who performs chemical, hematological, immunologic, microscopic and bacteriologic diagnostic analysis on tissue, blood and other body fluids.  Using sophisticated, biomedical equipment and complex analysis, laboratory professionals can detect cancer, identify viruses and bacteria, and measure glucose, cholesterol and drug levels to name a few.  Even though doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals depend on laboratory professionals every day to perform tests and interpret the results for a better understanding of the patient’s condition, many in the public fail to recognize the essential contributions of these dedicated men and women who are so often behind the scenes.

Celebrated annually during the last week of April, Medical Laboratory Professionals Week recognizes the more than 300,000 medical laboratory professionals across the country who perform and interpret more than 10 billion laboratory tests in the United States each year. 

In the picture: Front row, left to right:  Nancy Wells, Vickie Michael, Technical Supervisor,  Kaitlin Rice, Gladys Bowser; Back row, left to right: Matt Tavenner, CEO, Sheila Crowder, Dana Musser, Martha Tranka, Jay Ewing, Administrative Lab Director.  Not Pictured: Danielle Hunter, Cleo Clark, Arletha Young, Jennifer Smith, Elizabeth Ranes, Sherrasha Jones, Kristie Mitchell, Lynn Grant and Dr. John Summerville, Pathologist, Lab Director.



Emporia, VA– In 2014, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) established an “Active Shooter – Code Silver” policy for the organization as a part of the overall High Reliability and Safety program for the facility, and in response to the growing number of active shooter incidences across the country.  An active shooter is defined as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined or populated area.  The purpose of the policy is to provide an emergency response plan that is designed to protect the health and safety of patients, staff and visitors in the event of an active shooter on hospital property.  This policy provides SVRMC staff with detailed, step-by-step instructions with actions to take and how to respond in an active shooter situation.  All staff has been trained on this policy andnew staff receive orientation on this policy during their initial orientation to the facility. 

While having a policy in place to guide staff in the unlikely event of an active shooter at SVRMC is a great start, following the policy during an actual event might prove more difficult.  For this reason, and because the hospital is required to conduct emergency drills annually to maintain regulatory compliance, SVRMC’s emergency preparedness team recommended that one of the drills in 2015 be an active shooter scenario.  

In the early stages of planning for the active shooter drill, it became very clear that a successful drill would require participation from, not only SVRMC staff, but a multitude of outside agencies that would respond in the event of an actual active shooter.  On March 5th, staff from various SVRMC departments met with representatives from state and local law enforcement, City of Emporia and County of Greensville emergency management officials, local emergency medical services (EMS) and medical transport companies (Lifestar Ambulance Service and VCU Life Evac) and Greensville County Schools to discuss and plan for the active shooter drill to be held at the hospital.

In order to effectively evaluate the performance of all involved, only the heads of each agency will actually know drill scenario details in advance.  Staff from various participating agencies will be staged throughout the facility to observe the drill events as they unfold.  Following the drill, agency representatives will meet to discuss and critique the event, and to identify what went well and any areas for improvement.

While there are no plans to publicly announce the date and time of the drill, services at SVRMC will not be interrupted by drill activities.  Additional staff will be on hand to explain what is happening, the necessity for the drill, and reassure patients and visitors that there is not an actual emergency.



(EMPORIA, VA) – Helen Wilson has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for March 2015.  Ms. Wilson, who has been employed at SVRMC since June 1978, is a registered nurse (RN) who holds the position of Clinical Coordinator in the Outpatient Services Department.    

Employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior highlighted during that month.  The highlighted Standard of the Month for March was Customer Waiting.  Ms. Wilson was nominated by her manager who wrote, “Helen is the go-to person for service recovery and communication with family members and patients about delays.  She has an excellent way of calming down patients and family members that may be upset about delays.  Helen often reminds other staff to keep patients updated if we have told them that there is a delay.  She always thanks patients for choosing our facility, apologizes if there have been any issues and always tries to ensure that patients are very satisfied when they leave. Helen does an excellent job in ensuring that all of our customer service initiatives are upheld each and every day. ”

As SVRMC’s March Employee of the Month, Ms. Wilson received a certificate, balloons, cookies to share with her co-workers in the Outpatient Services Department, a cash prize and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2015 Employee of the Year.


Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center to participate in National Healthcare Decisions Day

EMPORIA, VA – Each year since 2008, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC), has joined other national, state and community organizations to highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision-making, and ensure that all adults with decision-making capacity in our community have the information and opportunity to communicate and document their healthcare decisions through participation in National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD).

Although Congress signed the Patient Self-Determination Act into law in 1990, which gives  every person the right to set forth his/her future healthcare wishes in writing with an “advance directive”, studies indicated that most American have not exercised this right or designate a person to carry out those wishes.  Observed annually on April 16th, the mission of NHDD exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.

“As a result of National Healthcare Decisions Day, many more people in our community can be expected to have thoughtful conversations about their healthcare decisions and complete reliable advance directives to make their wishes known,” said R. Matthew Tavenner, SVRMC’s CEO.  “Fewer families and healthcare providers will have to struggle with making difficult healthcare decisions in the absence of guidance from the patient.  Healthcare providers and facilities will be better equipped to address advance healthcare planning issues before a crisis and be better able to honor patient wishes when the time comes to do so.”

With healthcare, Your Decisions Matter.  Please join SVRMC in recognition of National Healthcare Decision Day.  On Wednesday, April 15th, the public is invited to attend an advance directive informational meeting lead by Lindsay Lankford, Esq. of Hancock, Daniel, Johnson & Nagle, P. C.  This complimentary educational session will begin at 6:00 PM in the SVRMC Classrooms.  Additionally, complimentary advance care planning information and advance directive forms will be available throughout the day on Thursday, April 16th in the hospital’s main lobby. 

If you would like to attend the advance directives presentation, contact Sandy Webb, Director of Marketing at 434-348-4447 to reserve your seat.  For more informationabout National Healthcare Decision Day, please visit



By:  Jack Forest, DO

EMPORIA, VA - The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ located just below the liver.  It plays an important role in food digestion by storing bile produced by the liver and providing it to the small intestine where it breaks down fat. The gallbladder generally goes unnoticed unless a patient experiences symptoms of a disorder, such as gallstones. Gallstones are like grains of sand or small rocks that develop in the gallbladder as a result of bile becoming chemically unbalanced. Only about 60 percent of people with gallstones experience symptoms, as they can develop and pass through the gallbladder and intestines without causing symptoms. However, when a gallstone is large it may become caught in the passageways, or ducts, of the gallbladder, pancreas or liver, resulting in extreme pain.

Gallstones generally fall into one of two categories, depending on the cause. Pigment gallstones develop when bile contains too much bilirubin, a naturally-occurring chemical normally removed by the liver. Pigment gallstones generally develop in individuals with liver conditions such as cirrhosis or sickle cell anemia. Another type, cholesterol gallstones, comprise 80 percent of all gallstones and consist mostly of undisolved cholesterol. Because most gallstones result from high levels of cholesterol, diet plays a very important role in the prevention of gallstone development.

Diets high in fats and cholesterol are a main contributor to gallstone development. However, cholesterol levels in your bile do not always correspond to cholesterol levels in your blood, especially since cholesterol-lowering drugs do not prevent gallstones even though they lower blood cholesterol levels. Crash diets that include too little fat, skipping meals, too few calories, rapid weight loss or going long periods without eating prohibit the gallbladder from emptying often enough or completely, increasing the risk of gallstone development.

In addition to diet, other risk factors for developing gallstones include gender, body weight, age and ethnicity. Women are more likely to develop gallstones because estrogen causes more cholesterol to be excreted in bile. Women who have high levels of estrogen in their bodies, such as those who are pregnant, taking birth control pills or on hormone therapy, are especially at risk. Overweight individuals may also have higher levels of cholesterol excreted into their bile. Individuals older than 60 years of age and those of Native American and Mexican-American descent are also high-risk groups.

If gallstones develop and cause symptoms, medical intervention is necessary in order to avoid permanent organ damage. Symptoms of gallstones often include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea especially after a high-fat or spicy meal, known as a “gallbladder attack.”  Seek medical treatment immediately if you experience these symptoms especially if accompanied by dark urine, fever, chills and/or yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, as this may indicate an obstructed bile duct, which can result in gallbladder rupture, a potentially fatal occurrence.

The most common treatment for gallstones is surgical removal of the gallbladder. This procedure is usually performed on an out-patient basis using the laparoscopic method, allowing most patients to return to normal activities within days. A person with a healthy liver can function normally without a gallbladder, however, lifestyle modifications such as limiting fat intake and increasing dietary fiber may be necessary for normal digestive function. Although surgery is the most common treatment for large gallstones and blocked ducts, non-surgical options to dissolve or break up the stones may be appropriate for individuals unable to undergo surgery due to complications such as cardiovascular conditions or liver disease.

If you experience signs or symptoms associated with gallstones or fall into a high-risk group, contact your physician to discuss treatment options and ways to minimize your risk.  It is important to seek medical care at the first sign of gallbladder attack or pain to avoid additional complications such as infections, duct obstructions or gallbladder rupture.

The information in this article was provided by Jack Forest, DO, who is certified by American Osteopathic Board of Surgery.  Dr. Forest’s practice, Southern Virginia Medical Group is located at 317 North Main Street in Emporia.  For more information on services offered by Dr. Forest or to schedule an appointment, call at 434-336-1222.



EMPORIA, VA - One of our most important relationships is with our doctor.  Healer. Educator. Adviser. Confidante. Comforter.  These are among the many roles doctors fulfill each day as they care for patients and their families. Whether in a hospital, a clinic, or a long-term care facility, doctors work tirelessly to make sure patients get the care they need.  Celebrated annually, National Doctors’ Day recognizes the contributions of doctors around the country for their role in healing, patient safety, medical research and advances, and respect for human life and individual dignity.  On March 30th, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) will join healthcare organizations across the United States in celebration of National Doctor’s Day.

Spearheaded by Eudora Brown Almond, a physician’s wife who wished to set aside a day to honor her husband and other physicians, the first Doctor’s Day was observed in Winder, Georgia in 1933.  Congress adopted a resolution commemorating National Doctors’ Day in 1953, but it wasn’t until 1990 that official legislation establishing March 30th as National Doctors’ Day was passed and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.  He declared, “There is no greater reward than being entrusted with the care of others. The day-to-day work of healing conducted by physicians throughout the United States has been shaped, in large part, by great pioneers in medical research. However, in addition to the doctors whose names we easily recognize, there are countless others who carry on the quiet work of healing each day in communities throughout the United States – indeed, throughout the world. Common to the experience of each of them, from the specialist in research to the general practitioner, are hard work, stress, and sacrifice.”

SVRMC has more than 85 active and consulting physicians on the medical staff who represent more than 18 specialty areas, including anesthesiology, cardiology, emergency medicine, family practice, gastroenterology, general surgery, gynecology, internal medicine, nephrology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, pathology, pediatrics, psychiatry, radiology, and urology.   As our nation celebrates Doctor’s Day, the administration and staff of SVRMC would like to recognize all doctors for their contributions to the health and wellbeing of our community, and to say a special thank you to the members of our medical staff for their tireless dedication to the patient’s they serve.

If you are looking for a doctor, a specialist, or you’re simply interested in learning more about the skilled professionals at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center, visit Click on the “Find a Physician” link, where you can search for a doctor by last name, gender, specialty, and location.



EMPORIA, Va. –  R. Matthew “Matt” Tavenner has been named Chief Executive Officer of Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center effective February 16.

Tavenner most recently served as Chief Administrative Officer of Wellmont Health System’s Community Division, focusing on several initiatives to enhance quality and improve patient outcomes throughout the health system. He brings a decade of hospital administration experience, as well as a current and relevant understanding of the needs of rural physicians in today’s healthcare industry.

“I am excited to work with the medical staff and employees at Southern Virginia Medical Center and look forward to what we can accomplish together to build on the hospital’s reputation for excellence,” said Tavenner.

Before his most recent position, Tavenner was assistant administrator of Jackson Purchase Medical Center in Mayfield, Kentucky. He has also served in leadership roles at rural hospitals in Martinsville, Danville and Richmond, Virginia. In previous roles, he has been actively engaged with community organizations and looks forward to continuing that involvement here.

“Matt has the leadership experience and a strong background in rural healthcare to build upon our already solid foundation,” said the Honorable Stephen D. Bloom, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Southern Virginia Medical Center. “We’re pleased to welcome him and his family to Emporia and look forward to working with him.”

A Virginian, born and raised, Tavenner earned his undergraduate degree from Longwood University and his master’s degree in health administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.



(EMPORIA, VA) – Terry Joyner has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for February 2015.  Ms. Joyner, who has been employed at SVRMC since December 2003, is the organization’s lead switchboard operator. 

Employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior highlighted during that month.  The highlighted Standard of the Month for February was Communication.  Ms. Joyner was nominated by a fellow employee at SVRMC who wrote, “Terry is friendly & helpful to everyone she encounters.  She always smiles and greets guests in a polite manner, remembering visitors by name. She goes the extra mile for everyone, assisting other departments as needed. For example, she collects the heart monitors on the weekends for the Cardio staff and she keeps every department aware of patient statuses, such as when patients arrive, when they are running late and when they are waiting. She has phone numbers available for anyone that needs them and happily assists in making connections. She is always clear and concise in her communication and she maintains positive interactions with everyone.  Terry exemplifies communication at SVRMC.”

As SVRMC’s February Employee of the Month, Ms. Joyner received a certificate, balloons, cookies to share with her co-workers at the Switchboard, a cash prize and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2015 Employee of the Year.


Five Steps to Colon Health An easy formula to promote prevention, awareness of common cancer

By: Theopolis Gilliam, MD

Emporia, VA - Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine, the lower part of the digestive system. Most cases begin silently, as a polyp that causes few symptoms. Cancer of the colon is the third most common cancer in the United States – and, when caught early, it’s also one of the most curable. About 90 percent of individuals whose cancer is found before it has spread survive five years after diagnosis. Unfortunately, when not caught early on, the five-year survival rate is just 10 percent.

These five simple steps can protect your health:

1. Get tested

All adults over age 50 should begin routine colon cancer screenings. In 2008, the American Cancer Society (ACS) issued new screening guidelines to stress prevention as the primary goal and steer providers and patients toward those tests with the highest potential to prevent cancer.

The recommendations add two new tests and more specifically define the differences between tests: those that find cancer, and those that can find precancerous growths (also known as polyps). The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends those tests that actually examine the interior of the colon because they can not only detect cancer, but also prevent it by finding – and removing – polyps or growths that can potentially cause cancer. These tests include a flexible signoidoscopy (every five years); a colonoscopy (every 10 years); a double contrast barium enema (every five years); or a CT colonography or virtual colonoscopy (every five years). Polyps found during these tests can be removed on the spot, simply and painlessly.

Testing options that look for evidence of actual cancer, include three types of stool tests – an annual fecal occult blood test, the annual fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and a periodic stool DNA test.

2. Develop awareness

Know the risk factors associated with colon problems:

  • Advancing age, i.e., over age 50.
  • A high-fat diet.
  • A family (i.e., sibling or parent) or personal history of colorectal cancer.
  • A history of polyps or growths inside the colon and rectum.
  • Certain conditions that elevate your risk, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Diabetes. People with diabetes have a 40 percent increased risk of colon cancer.
  • Ethic background. African Americans have the highest number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States.

3. Know the symptoms

Be vigilant about scheduled screenings, and if you have certain symptoms, see your doctor sooner. Symptoms may include persistent stomach discomfort, a change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, or a change in stool consistency), abdominal pain accompanying a bowel movement, dark stools, weakness or fatigue, unexplained weight loss, or blood in the stool.

Symptoms vary, and certain foods or medications can also mimic these symptoms. It’s best to err on the safe side and check with your doctor about changes.

4. Practice prevention

A balanced diet, regular exercise and smart lifestyle choices will keep your risk level in check. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains provides the nutrients and antioxidants that fight disease. Low-fat dairy products and limited consumption of red meat keep your saturated fat intake low.

Getting your vitamins and minerals through a daily supplement helps, but food-based vitamins are more effective and more easily absorbed by the body. Regular exercise – at least 30 minutes most days of the week – helps build your body’s defenses. Finally, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption help, too.

5. Know your options

Talk with your doctor about the best way to manage your risk. If you have an above-average risk for colon cancer or an initial test reveals polyps, you and your doctor can decide the course of action that works best for you.

The information in this article was provided by Theoplois Gilliam, MD, who is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.  Dr. Gilliam’s practice, Emporia Medical Associates, is located at 6 Doctor’s Drive in Emporia.  For more information on services offered by Dr. Gilliam or to schedule an appointment, call at 434-634-6101. 


Prehypertension Carries High Risks

A low number doesn’t necessarily mean good health

About 73 million U.S. adults age 20 and older – one in three people – have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). And because there are no symptoms, one-third of these individuals don’t know they have it. For this reason, high blood pressure is known as the “silent killer.” Hypertension directly causes some 50,000 deaths in the United States each year, and is a contributing factor in about 300,000 additional deaths.

High blood pressure – also known as hypertension – is a blood pressure reading above 140/90 mmHG. If your blood pressure doesn’t fall into this category, don’t assume that you have a clean bill of health. 

Prehypertension – a blood pressure between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89mmHG – increases the odds of developing high blood pressure and the diseases that come with it: heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. Years ago, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 mm Hg wasn’t a cause for concern. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute established the category of prehypertension to warn people whose blood pressure readings put them at risk for hypertension and other serious health problems. In fact, prehypertension can triple your risk of heart attack and can develop into hypertension, if left untreated, according to the AHA.

The only way to know if you’re at risk is to get your blood pressure checked. The two numbers in your blood pressure reading show how hard your heart is working. The higher (systolic) number represents the pressure when the heart is beating, and the lower (diastolic) number represents the pressure when the heart is resting between beats.

While the causes of 95 percent of high blood pressure cases are unknown, the good news is, it’s one of the most common and preventable conditions related to heart disease. Although some risk factors – such as age, heredity and race – are beyond your control, a few simple lifestyle modifications or medication, if necessary, can control your risk.

Lifestyle factors that you can modify include your diet, activity level, weight and stress. Other factors may surprise you, such as lack of sleep, low potassium intake or taking birth control pills. Some medications, such as antidepressants, cold medicines and hormones, can also trigger a temporary rise in blood pressure.

Pay attention to the sodium level in your diet, and make sure your sodium intake is within reasonable limits (1,500 to 2,400 mg per day) by minimizing processed meats and frozen foods and eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that a higher intake of low-fat dietary calcium and dietary vitamin D – not vitamin supplements – can decrease the risk of hypertension. Also, limit your alcohol consumption and don’t smoke.

Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly is key – being overweight is a major contributor to high blood pressure. If you have prehypertension, exercise can help you avoid developing hypertension. Losing just 10 pounds can significantly reduce your blood pressure. In addition to dropping pounds, The Mayo Clinic recommends that patients watch their waistlines. Men are considered at increased risk if their waist circumference is greater than 40 inches and women, if their waist measures more than 35 inches.

Finally, see your doctor regularly to keep a close check on your blood pressure – as well as other health issues that can impact your heart health.


Minimally Invasive Surgery

By Jack Forest, DO; EMPORIA, VA - Minimally invasive surgery, also known as endoscopic, laparoscopic, or arthroscopic surgery, uses technology to limit cutting while accomplishing the same goals as traditional surgery. While minimally invasive procedures result in less scarring and shorter recovery times, they come with other risks which a patient should be aware of if a doctor recommends the procedure.

Minimally invasive surgery is called “minimally invasive” because fewer and smaller incisions are made. Using specialized techniques and miniature cameras and light sources, a surgeon makes a series of small incisions or a single small incision rather than a large incision. The cameras and lights allow the surgeon to see inside to perform the surgery, which results in less blood loss, fewer surgical scars, and less recovery time. Patients who have minimally invasive surgeries are able to leave the hospital and perform regular activities more quickly than patients who have conventional surgery.

Minimally invasive procedures can be performed for various types of heart surgeries, many colon and rectal surgeries, as well as gastroenterological, gynecological, neurological and orthopedic procedures. Specialized doctors and tiny tools make the large range of minimally invasive surgeries possible. The specifics of the surgeries vary as much as what is being operated on but, in most cases, small cameras allow the surgeons to be precise with these small instruments by projecting images from inside the body onto large screens.

Minimally invasive surgery is often more time-consuming and delicate than traditional surgery. This, though, still depends on the surgery being performed. For instance, the removal of a gallbladder or appendix is one of the most commonly practiced minimally invasive surgeries. These are often completed quickly and are as safe as traditional surgery. Surgical removal of cancer, though, can be more challenging with minimally invasive surgery. It has had less testing than the surgeries to remove the gallbladder and appendix. If your doctor suggests a minimally invasive surgery, ask for specifics and check to see if it is one that is well established or if it is still in the testing stages. Factors such as the patient’s health and history also come into play in the decision to perform minimally invasive surgery. If the patient is sick or weak, minimally invasive surgery may not be the best option because of the long operating time.

Minimally invasive surgeries vary in their incision sizes, operating times, and the tools used. Ask your doctor how often he or she has performed the surgery and the success rates. Ask how familiar your nurses and anesthesiologists are with minimally invasive procedures. Ask how long it will take to recover. Some minimally invasive surgeries can be done as outpatient procedures and others require a hospital stay; be sure you know which you will be having. Minimally invasive surgery can be a wonderful option for some patients and for some procedures; but like any surgery, it is important to learn about your surgery beforehand, since being informed will help smooth the surgery and recovery process.

The information in this article was provided by Jack Forest, DO, who is certified by American Osteopathic Board of Surgery.  Dr. Forest’s practice, Southern Virginia Medical Group is located at 317 North Main Street in Emporia.  For more information on services offered by Dr. Forest or to schedule an appointment, call at 434-336-1222.


Vaccination is the Key to Preventing the Spread of Measles

Emporia, VA - Measles, a highly contagious virus, is making a comeback. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that 102 cases of the measles in 14 states were diagnosed in January. The majority of these cases have been linked to a measles outbreak at an amusement park in California.

Although measles were eliminated in the United States in 2000, the CDC said that in 2014 the US experienced the greatest number of measles cases since being declared eliminated, with 644 cases in 27 states. The majority of these cases were in people who were not vaccinated.

“Vaccination is an important tool in preventing the spread of measles,” said Fitzgerald Marcelin, MD, who is certified by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Pediatrics.  “CDC research shows that one dose of the measles vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if someone is exposed to the virus, and two doses are about 97% effective,” he said.  

Measles is still common in other countries and travelers with measles continue to bring the virus in the US. An outbreak can occur with the disease reaches a community where groups of people are unvaccinated. To prevent the spread of measles, the CDC recommends that every child receive a first dose of the measles vaccination (MMR) after reaching the age of 12 months. A second dose is recommended for 4- to 6- year-olds. Vaccination is also recommended for adults who do not have evidence of immunity to the measles.

If you have questions about the measles vaccine, speak with your primary care provider or contact your local health department.



(EMPORIA, VA) – Latoya Vaughan has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for January 2015.  Ms. Vaughan, who has been employed at SVRMC since March 2011, is Lead Pharmacy Tech. in the SVRMC Pharmacy. 

Employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior highlighted during that month.  The highlighted Standard of the Month for January was Commitment to Co-workers.  Ms. Vaughan was nominated by SVRMC’s Pharmacy Director and a pharmacy co-worker who wrote, “Latoya relentlessly demonstrates an exceptional work ethic.  If something needs to be done and she is aware, she either does it or assigns it to someone. She is always smiling and laughing while maintaining a work appropriate attitude.  Latoya is very knowledgeable about the pharmacy and its role throughout the hospital making her a huge asset to the team.  She can be called the “Go-To” lady.  She shows commitment by demonstrating leadership in teaching, checking, and supporting the team. She has the ability to work with everyone in the facility with an even tempered, professional attitude. Latoya quietly goes the extra mile to make a difference and to make the department more efficient.  She is largely responsible for the development of the most effective pharmacy tech team SVRMC has ever had.”

As SVRMC’s January’s Employee of the Month, Ms. Vaughan received a certificate, balloons, cookies to share with her co-workers in the Pharmacy, a cash prize and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2015 Employee of the Year.



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