Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) welcomed Assistant Chief Executive Officer Donovan Blackburn as the newest addition to senior management on June 12.


Blackburn began his first day at PMC much like every new employee. He started with orientation, an opportunity to learn the basics.


“I quickly realized that every single presenter who came into the room not only had the knowledge of their topic, but they were excited and really engaged,” he said. “It was far above and beyond the learning curve that comes along with any orientation.”


Blackburn says it was exciting to learn through orientation. It taught the group that no one is above anyone else.


“We are all rolling, in essence, toward the same mission. Everybody who spoke had that message time and time again,” said Blackburn. “Regardless of our positions, each one of us is a very integral part of this amazing machine.”


PMC’s mission is to provide world-class quality health care in a Christian environment.


He says the intent of the mission statement speaks volumes about the organization and is one of the many things he loves about PMC. He says this organization also means economic stability, quality of life for our patients, and a tax base for the city and its economic development. Most of all it is a ray of hope, not just for health care but for prosperity, opportunity and quality of life.


Blackburn says to achieve success, it takes people wrapping their arms around the idea, developing a passion for it and believing in it and he believes this is what is happening in health care at PMC.


“It is fascinating to be able to learn the people and what each individual person represents within this facility because they are the front line people who are greeting our patients and taking care of the community,” he said.


For now, Blackburn is focused on listening.


He said, “I have a lot of ideas, experience, energy and excitement but what I need is time to learn. This is a world-class facility with state-of- the-art equipment, unbelievable professionals and employees with heart.”


Blackburn says he knows he has a great opportunity.


He says he has seen a passion in the people at PMC and is grateful for the outpouring of support and well-wishes he has received.


Blackburn’s response is one of thankfulness that is clearly seen in his message to the hospital staff and to the community.


“The first thing I want to say to Walter E. May, PMC President and Chief Executive Officer, the board of directors and the PMC staff is ‘thank you.’ I am very humbled and very blessed to have received all your messages of support. I am certainly looking forward to being a big part of the continued growth and ensuring the mission of this institution is fulfilled. To the community, I want you to know the great things at PMC are not happening by chance. They are unfolding through great vision, dedication, an outstanding staff and good leadership throughout the organization and for that we should all be thankful.”

Author Name: 
Carol Casebolt
Friday, June 23, 2017

WHITESBURG — Randy Dollarhyde and Tomeika Brock know first-hand the struggles facing youth in eastern Kentucky.


Both came from troubled homes.


“I know first-hand the challenges many youth face today when it comes to peer pressure and issues such as mental health and family crisis,” said Dollarhyde, who works as Youth Services Coordinator at Kentucky River Community Care’s Sapling Center in Whitesburg. “I was abused as a child and had nowhere to turn for help.”


The center, located at 60 Jenkins Road, currently serves 15 to 20 area youth between the ages of 14-25. The number increases to as many as 50 during the school months.


“I grew up in an alcoholic family,” Letcher County Coordinator Tomeika Brock said. “It was a dark time in my life.”


Clients are transported to and from the center each day. It’s a safe haven for those needing the basic necessities to survive, along with technology, mental health services and support to help them learn to function as young adults on their own.


“The biggest thing about our center is we want to let people know its open for everyone, not just those with crisis at home and school,” Dollarhyde said.


There is no charge for those who wish to drop in.


“We offer food, fun activities, a computer lab, video and board games, air hockey and pool, as well as a lending library,” Brock added.


Youth who take part in the program receive individual and career counseling, life skills training, group therapy and the opportunity to be involved in youth group projects.


The center opened this past November, the second of what officials hope is the beginning of additional sites.


“We have plans to open other centers in Knott, Floyd and Pike counties,” Dollarhyde said. “I want to see us grow in a way that many others can use the service.”


He said his abusive past is the driving force to help others.


“So many young people simply need someone to reach out to and listen,” he said. “I was attending a Vacation Bible School when two guys came to my rescue. I don’t remember their names but I’m so thankful they were there for me.”


Brock says the center gives youth the validation of a real place to come and get help.


“It allows them to talk to someone else about what they have going on in their lives and they are able to share their stories,” she said.


The drop in center is open from noon until 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday.


For addition information, call 606-633-0730.

SAFE HAVEN: Staff members, above, stand alongside The Sapling Center Youth Drop-In sign located in Whitesburg. Below, two of the many youth who attend the center enjoy activities on computers. It helps youth in the region cope with the everyday crises of life.
Medical Leader | Photo by TEDDY PAYNTER
Author Name: 
Teddy Paynter
Friday, June 23, 2017

Luke 6:38: We simply follow God’s direction to give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete with it shall be measured to you again.

HUDDY — The downturn in the coal industry has deeply impacted the region economically. Through these tough times, many households are affected and their ability to provide a secure and consistent food supply has become a heavy burden.


In Pike and Mingo counties, 18.3 percent of families lack an adequate amount of food. These families are friends neighbors, co-workers and fellow church members.


Community Lighthouse Ministries Church and Food Pantry is doing its part to help ease the burden of hunger.


“When it came to our attention that HOPE Inc., a local non-profit USDA food bank, was ceasing operations in our area, we knew we could not allow so many families to go without,” Pastor Okey Varney said.


Varney said the church and pantry were born from the vision God gave him. He saw the need that existed in the community and said he knew that God put him and the church in the position to meet those needs.


Varney began using donations from the church to purchase food items, buying all he could with funds available.


Associate Minister Kevin Coley said, “As we began to be faithful over the little we had to give, he gave us even more. We have been amazed that very few times we have run out of food completely, and that as the need continues to grow, God’s Provision has grown along with it.”


The church’s partnership with Feeding America and God’s Pantry Food Bank in February 2016 has been a blessing. Food collected from Walmart and Food City of South Williamson have allowed for more families to be served.


Companies such as Kellogg’s, Lance, Russell Stover and Pepperidge Farm distributors have also donated items.


This past Christmas, the church received a large shipment of candy and toys from the Kentucky State Police Cram the Cruiser Campaign.


The food pantry has been serving families for the past six years.


“We distribute and categorize all donations by bakery items, beverages, dairy, meat, frozen foods, canned and boxed foods, produce and hygiene products. Anything we receive, we distribute,” Varney said. “We go through all items, allotting each family with groceries and non-food items.”


They distribute two days a week, allowing them to serve two sets of families.


“We currently serve each Monday and Friday, with each family picking up their box on the day they choose. Each family is permitted to pick up one time per week, allowing us to serve more families,” Varney said. “At noon recipients begin signing up to receive a box. Beginning at 2 p.m. the doors open and we begin distributing boxes.”


Coley said anyone is welcome to receive a box.


“Our only qualifications are providing proof of identity and residence. We serve families all over, however if the family is from an area that has a local pantry serving them, we encourage them to go to their local pantry,” Coley added.


The church has served 86,689 pounds of food in 1,911 boxes.


“We do not want to see one child, one person or one family go hungry,” Varney said. “We hope that each recipient leaves the food pantry knowing that they are precious and loved by God.”


The work the Community Lighthouse Ministries Food Pantry does would be impossible without many volunteers and community partners.


“The pantry operates with the financial and volunteer efforts of individuals and churches of different affiliations. We are thankful for Stone United Methodist Church, McVeigh Baptist Church, Victory in Jesus Church, Roger’s Funeral Home, Appalachian Chiropractic – D.C. Jarrod Thacker, High Standards Heating and Cooling, AAA Real Estate and many others who make what we do possible,” Varney said. “We all work together to be sure that no one goes hungry in our community.”


He said the church is open to welcome new community partners.


“Currently we rarely are required to purchase food, as donations from our community grocery partners provide most of what we distribute. This means, the finances we receive goes to the operational cost of running the pantry, such as electricity, fuel, maintenance, insurance and equipment,” Varney said.


The pantry is 100 percent volunteer based.


“We are blessed to be able to meet the need of so many and we have accomplished so much by working together. But without the help of others, we fear the need will soon outgrow the provision,” Varney said.


They are currently working on a partnership with Christian Appalachian Project to expand the services they will be able to provide.


“I feel like working with the food pantry gives my life meaning and purpose,” Coley said. “I love knowing that so many will have enough to eat, and that I played a part in that.”


For more information call 606-519-6018.

HELPING HAND: Pastor Okey Varney and volunteers from the Christian Lighthouse Ministries Food Pantry prepare to hand out more than 45 baskets of food to needy families in the Pike County community of Huddy.
Medical Leader | Photo by TEDDY PAYNTER
Author Name: 
Abigail Gibson
Friday, June 23, 2017

On April 26, 2010 Ricky Hamilton joined the Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) family. He began his career in the IT Department as a technician. Today he serves as the PMC Quality and Process Engineer. He spends his days analyzing data for the hospital. His focus is to improve efficiency.


Hamilton is a member of the Grace Baptist Church where he is an assistant Sunday School Teacher. He has also been responsible for running Chess tournaments in Pikeville for the U.S. Chess Federation.


Off the clock, Hamilton’s favorite hobby is an adventure of discovery, mystery and wonderment. It is magic.


He began performing magic shows at his previous job when a lady asked him to do a show for her child.


“At first I said no, I am not a magician, I do not do magic shows,” said Hamilton. “Then she asked me a couple more times and finally, I agreed to do it.”


Soon afterwards other parents asked him to perform for their children and his hobby soon became a regular act throughout the area.


He credits Double Kwik as the biggest contributor to getting his business off the ground. They asked him if he could add balloon animals to his performance.


“I bought a DVD on how to make balloons,” said Hamilton. “I was hired to make balloon characters for the company’s customer appreciation days and soon afterwards, East Kentucky Beverage asked me to perform at their company picnic.”


After their 100 plus employees and their families saw what he could bring to a party he began doing countless other company picnics and birthday parties.


In 2015 Hamilton added another feature to his hobby.


“I started creating balloon décor for weddings and baby showers,” he said.


Hamilton creates balloon features such as arches, towers and most recently a champagne glass.


“I also do sculptures out of balloons,” said Hamilton. “I did the PMC picture frame for Relay for Life and I am building rockets for some local vacation Bible school events.”


Hamilton says he still gets excited when he entertains children. He often finds himself in a spotlight he did not expect.


“I have had kids run up to me in public and say ‘oh, it is the magician’ and in the beginning it took me off guard a little bit,” he said. “The kids want my autograph. That is so foreign to me because I am not a celebrity by any means.”


He says it is a good feeling.


“I try to include the kids in my shows as much as possible. I take pictures with them, sign autographs and get them involved in magic. For the kids, magic is real and their time with the magician makes great childhood memories.”


Most magicians have a beautiful assistant by their side. Hamilton has a four year old daughter who is training to fill that role in the future.


“Make your dream a reality,” said Hamilton. “You have to go out there and make it happen. Whether we spend time on our jobs, our families or our hobbies — time is really all we have to spend and you have to be willing to make time to make your dream come true.”


Hamilton is not ready to quit his day job but hopes to, someday, perform in a larger on-stage magic show.

Author Name: 
Carol Casebolt
Friday, June 23, 2017

PIKEVILLE — Golden Corral Buffet and Grill, located at 233 Cassidy Boulevard in Pikeville is set to open July 3.


The new Pikeville Golden Corral has created over 65 jobs for the region.


The restaurant will feature endless home-style buffet favorites such as pot roast, fried chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, a variety of international tastes and signature seafood dishes on its Lighthouse Seafood Bay buffet.


As a compliment to the hot buffet items, the restaurant will feature a market-fresh salad bar, where guests can build their own salads by choosing from dozens of ingredients.


A variety of cakes, pies and homemade breads – including warm yeast rolls – will be served on the Bakery buffet. They will showcase a premium dessert buffet, including freshly-spun cotton candy, hand-dipped ice cream and the legendary Chocolate Wonderfall – an ever-flowing chocolate fountain for dipping your favorite fruits and desserts.


“We are having a soft opening for senior citizens on July 1, friends and family gathering on July 2 and our grand opening following on July 3,” said Ronnie Spence.


The 10,000 plus square foot building can seat 322 guests.


Golden Corral Buffet and Grill will be open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. until 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m.


“We are very excited to bring a brand new Golden Corral to the Pikeville community,” said Spence. “We invite everyone to come experience our endless buffet on opening day.”


Golden Corral is still hiring, to apply for a position visit goldencorral.com.

Author Name: 
Abigail Gibson
Friday, June 23, 2017

Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) is observing National Safety Month during June. The third topic of the series brings awareness to the safety in our homes.


There are many ways we want to keep our families safe, but our homes are where safety begins. Not only are our homes where we should teach safety to our families, but it is also the place where our families need to feel safe.


“Our homes are where our families should feel safest and if there’s one thing we can do to make that happen, we should take every opportunity to do so,” said PMC Home Health Director Dale Ratliff.


Of all the ways to keep our homes safe, fire safety is among the top of that list.


The U.S. Fire Administration advises to have a home fire drill and provided a home safety checklist to ensure family homes are safe.


Smoke Alarms – there is one smoke alarm on every level of the home and inside and outside each sleeping area, smoke alarms are tested and cleaned monthly, smoke alarm batteries are changed as needed and smoke alarms are less than 10 years old.


Cooking Safety — cooking area is free from items that can catch fire, kitchen stove hood is clean and vented to the outside and pots are not left unattended on the stove.


Electrical and Appliance Safety — electrical cords do not run under rugs, electrical cords are not frayed or cracked, circuit-protected, multi-prong adapters are used for additional outlets, large and small appliances are plugged directly into wall outlets and clothes dryer lint filter and venting system are clean.


Candle Safety — candles are in sturdy fire-proof containers that won’t be tipped over, all candles are extinguished before going to bed or leaving the room and children and pets are never left unattended with candles.


Carbon Monoxide Alarms — carbon monoxide alarms are located on each level of the home and carbon monoxide alarms are less than seven years old.


Smoking Safety — Family members who smoke only buy fire-safe cigarettes and smoke outside, matches and lighters are secured out of children’s sight, ashtrays are large, deep and kept away from items that can catch fire and ashtrays are emptied into a container that will not burn.


Heating Safety — chimney and furnace are cleaned and inspected yearly, furniture and other items that can catch fire are at least three feet from fireplaces, wall heaters, baseboards and space heaters, fireplace and barbeque ashes are placed outdoors in a covered metal container at least three feet from anything that can catch fire, extension cords are never used with space heaters and heaters are approved by a national testing laboratory and have tip-over shut-off function.


Home Escape Plan — have two ways out of each room, know to crawl low to the floor when escaping to avoid toxic smoke, know that once you’re out to stay out, know where to meet after the escape, meeting place should be near the front of your home so firefighters know you are out and practice your fire escape plan.


“Fires are the cause of many tragedies every day and it’s important to know the safety tips to keep your home safe,” added Ratliff. “Each home needs smoke alarms and to change the batteries in them at least every three months. If you can’t afford a smoke alarm, there are local programs that are able to help.”


For more information or to schedule an appointment with a PMC physician, call 606-218-3500.


(EDITOR’S NOTE:  This article is the third of a four-part series regarding National Safety Month.)



Author Name: 
Melinda Goodson
Friday, June 23, 2017

As Christians, we are always concerned if someone is “saved”. Thankfully someone was persistent in making sure we were saved and consequently we want to make sure everyone we encounter is saved too. The question we must ask is saved from what? If we forget to tell people what they are being saved from, they are just jumping through hoops to please man. We are saved from the power and control of sin; the grip of Satan and the wrath of God. If you are saved, you are saved from an eternal punishment in hell and granted access to a heavenly mansion.

Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “For the son of man came to seek and save those which are lost.” If you are lost today, Jesus wants to save you. Christ is waiting for you to call out to him and he will provide you the lifeline.

~ PMC Chaplain Chris Gilley may be reached at 606-218-3969.

Friday, June 23, 2017

PIKEVILLE — The memory of Pastor Gene Layne is being carried on through a Blessing Box affixed to the front of the Church of God, Militant Pillar and Ground of Truth on Bypass Road.


Its purpose is to not only food items and other daily necessities for anyone who needs them, but it also holds the love of Christ, expressed through the church members and friends who keep it stocked every week.


In just six weeks, it is estimated that the blessings in the box have helped more than two dozen people, some homeless, some just desperately trying to make ends meet. For Pastor Sandy Layne, its value is much bigger than the box itself.


“The people who need the things in the box know us, they know the members of our church, or they can find out who we are pretty easily,” she said. “I’ve had at least six people come up to me and tell me that they are so thankful for our little ministry.”


She said you never know what people don’t have that you take for granted.


“One man, he’s homeless, said he had been eating out of the box for a week. I asked him how he opened the cans, and he said he used his pocket knife. So we got some can openers and put them in the box,” Layne said.


When you open the box, which is never locked, you might find crackers, cans of soup, beans, vegetables, and other non-perishable food. But you also might find shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap or bug spray.


Disposable baby diapers, wipes, even small household items and whatnots, facial tissues, toilet paper . . . the box holds surprises, and they don’t stay there long.


“We have no idea what people need. It’s not just food,” Layne added. “Sometimes we need something pretty to brighten our day. Being poor is messy. It’s hard. It’s depressing. We are just a small church, none of us are wealthy. But we all have something we can give. A pack of playing cards could bring someone hours of fun, and that’s something that people who are trying to figure out where their next meal is coming from don’t have the luxury of thinking about – fun.”


Layne pointed out that several churches around town have blessing boxes, and she’s sure those church members have been blessed just as the members of her church have.


“It really is a blessing to give, just like it says in Proverbs 22, verse nine: ‘The generous themselves will be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.’ We can’t pay people’s bills, we can’t buy them a car or pay their rent, but we can make their day a little easier, a little less stressed. And that gives us a blessing.”


It is a result of people’s generosity.


“Rusty and Linda Justice helped us so much,” Layne said. “Rusty has really stepped up to help me since Gene passed. I am so grateful for him and Linda.” The project was funded by private donations as well. Big Sandy Community & Technical College students built and installed the box, as a gift in memory of Pastor Layne. He and Rusty Justice served together as members of the college’s local advisory board.


Layne’s friends and co-workers at Highway District 12 have stepped up to fill the box along with her church family.


“We take donations from everyone. The more the merrier! If you think you can’t make a difference in other people’s lives, maybe you are thinking too big. Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference. Look through your pantry, check out your closets and drawers, and bring what you find to me. I’ll make sure it gets in the box.”


Donations can be dropped off to Layne at the highway department office on Loraine Street, just down the road from the church. You may also call her if you need someone to pick up the things you want to give: 606-434-1764.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) joins the National Stroke Association to recognize June as National Aphasia Awareness Month. Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects a person’s ability to process and use language.


This neurological condition is caused by damage to portions of the brain responsible for language. It is usually the result of a stroke in the left hemisphere of the brain.


“Up to 40 percent of stroke survivors develop Aphasia,” said Brigetta Collins, RN, PMC Stroke Program Coordinator.


Aphasia can be very challenging because language plays such a central role in daily living. People with Aphasia have difficulties with speaking, understanding others, reading and writing.


The type and severity of aphasia can range from mild to severe.


Mild Aphasia is where a task like retrieving the names of objects is difficult. Severe aphasia makes any type of communication almost impossible.


Improvement starts with a great speech therapist. A full recovery from aphasia is possible.


“Speech therapy is the most common treatment for Aphasia along with a variety of specific speech therapy exercises and techniques,” said Cam Damron, PMC Speech Therapist.


“There are technologies available for those with Aphasia,” explained Damron. “PMC often recommends programs and apps from Lingraphica.”


Lingraphica is a company dedicated to providing communication devices, language and therapy apps, and online practice activities for individuals with language and cognitive disorders.


There are four specific apps that Damron suggests to her patients. These are SmallTalk Aphasia, SmallTalk Oral Motor, TalkPath News and TalkPath Therapy.


All are available for download in the App Store on your smart phone or tablet. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can visit the Lingraphica website at aphasia.com and create a TalkPath account to download the programs to your desktop or laptop computer.


If the symptoms of Aphasia last longer than two or three months after a stroke, a complete recovery is unlikely. However, some people continue to improve over a period of years and even decades. Improvement is a slow process that usually involves both helping the individual and family understand the nature of Aphasia and learning strategies for communicating.


PMC offers additional help through a support group.


“Additional support and encouragement is also available at PMC’s Stroke Support Group,” said Collins. “Families and caregivers of stroke survivors are welcome to come and learn from experts in the stroke field, as well as share their experiences with each other.”


The PMC Stroke Support Group meets the last Wednesday of each month on the 11th floor of May Tower in the PMC Restaurant at 1pm in Dining Room #2. Free lunch is served to all in attendance.


For more information about the stroke support group, please call Brigetta Collins at 606-218-3554.

Author Name: 
Amy Charles
Friday, June 23, 2017