PIKEVILLE - June is National Cataract Awareness Month, a time when the public is urged to pay attention to the health of their eyes.

Currently, more than 24 million Americans age 40 or older have cataracts, making it the leading cause of blindness.

According to the American Optometric Association, a cataract is “a cloudy or opaque area in the normally clear lens of the eye.”  The cloudiness is caused by the buildup of proteins in the eye’s lens.

Looking through an eye with cataracts is compared to seeing through a frosty or fogged up window.

This cloudy vision can decrease one’s ability to read, drive a car or see facial expressions.

Cataracts usually develop slowly over time. Symptoms include:

•Cloudy, blurred or dim vision

•Difficulty with night vision

•Light sensitivity/glare

•Seeing “halos” around lights

•Progressive nearsightedness, also called “second sight” in older people, causing them to no longer need reading glasses

•Frequent or sudden changes in eyeglasses or contact lens prescription

•Fading or yellowing of colors

•Double vision in a single eye

•At times, distinguished as a yellowish or milky spot on the eye’s pupil

“As the most common cause of blindness worldwide, cataracts are generally caused by the natural aging process, and usually start to affect our vision at, or around age 60,” said Pikeville Medical Center Ophthalmologist Dr. Keith Ison. “You may notice more trouble reading fine print, glares and halos while driving (especially at night),  or experience a film over the eyes that just won't go away. If you have any of these symptoms, then cataracts could be the cause for your decline in vision.”

People have a higher risk of developing cataracts if they are 55 years or older, have been diagnosed with diabetes, have had an eye injury or surgery or have a family history of cataracts

To date, there is no proven prevention for cataracts, but some lifestyle habits can decrease the risk, such as: 

•Getting regular eye exams with dilation

•Limiting  alcohol intake

•Limiting exposure to sunlight and always wear a hat or sunglasses while in the sun

•Avoiding tanning beds/booths

•Avoiding steroid medication, when possible

•Keeping blood pressure and blood sugar levels normal

•Maintaining a healthy weight

•Not smoking

•Sticking to a healthy diet,  including plenty of fruits and veggies

“The good news is that cataracts can be cured by a simple outpatient procedure that takes about 10-15 minutes to perform without any pain or stitches,” Dr. Ison said. “Pikeville Medical Center has the most advanced technology which allows me to perform cataract surgery safely, right here at home, so my patients can get back to enjoying life to its fullest.”

Dr. Ison’s office is located in Suite 203 in the Grace Call Building at 1098 South Mayo Trail, Pikeville. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 606-218-6390.


Sources: http://aoa.orghttp://mayoclinic.com; http://webmd.com; http://preventblindness.org


PIKEVILLE - Pikeville Medical Center welcomes Interventional Radiologist Dr. Rami Sartawi to the Heart and Vascular Institute.  He will begin practicing on July 1.

Dr. Sartawi received his medical degree in 2007 at Ohio State University School of Medicine and Public Health. He completed his Diagnostic Radiology residency at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., in 2012 and Interventional Radiology fellowship at Northwestern University in Chicago. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Radiology in Diagnostic Radiology.

With roots in the region, Dr. Sartawi is excited to begin seeing patients at Pikeville Medical Center.

“My family has lived in eastern Kentucky for over 15 years, so working at PMC is a little bit of a homecoming for me,” he said. “I’ve been all over the country for training, but Kentucky has always been my home.”

When asked why he chose to work at Pikeville Medical Center, Dr. Sartawi said, “PMC is a top-notch facility with a prestigious staff of physicians, making my decision a simple one.  I look forward to contributing positively to the well-being of the community.”

He specializes in image guided minimally- invasive procedures for dialysis access, kyphoplasty, tumor biopsies and treatment, diseased arteries/veins and joint injections. Other specialties include renal/dialysis interventions, graft and fistula angioplasty and stenting, declots, temporary and tunneled dialysis catheters, ureteral stents, percutaneous nephrostomy, angiography, stenting, angioplasty, thrombolysis, limb salvage, non-healing ulcers and pain management (facet/joint injections, epidural steroid injections).

Dr. Michael Wolujewicz will join Dr. Sartawi in PMC’s Interventional Radiology department on July 22.

Dr. Sartawi, a U.S. citizen, was born and raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, outdoor sports and reading. 

His office is located at PMC May Tower 1 West, 911 Bypass Road.  For more information, call 606-218-4530.



PIKEVILLE – Pikeville Medical Center is proud to announce the addition of Dr. Philip Leipprandt Jr. to its Gastroenterology Physician Practice. 

He joins the hospital on July 1.

Dr. Leipprandt received his medical degree from Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine (now known as Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine) in 2007.

He went on to complete his internship in internal medicine at Sun Coast Hospital in Largo, Florida in 2008 and his residency in internal medicine at Largo Medical Center in 2010.

Dr. Leipprandt completed his Gastroenterology fellowship at Largo Medical Center and is excited to practice medicine in Pikeville.

“I went to medical school here. I met my wife here. It just feels right to come back and practice medicine here,” he said. “I enjoy the people in Pikeville, and I want to serve the community.”

When asked why he decided to become a physician, Dr. Leipprandt said, “I want to help people through whatever disease process they are going through. I just like to help people, and I want my patients to know I’m always there for them. I want to ease their minds.”

Dr. Leipprandt specializes in capsule endoscopy, a procedure that uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures of the digestive tract as opposed to the more invasive traditional endoscopy.

The camera sits inside a vitamin-sized capsule the patient swallows. As the capsule travels through the digestive tract, the camera takes thousands of pictures that are transmitted to a recorder worn on a belt around the patient’s waist.

Dr. Leipprandt also treats gallbladder disease, pancreatic disease and chronic liver disease as well as gastrointestinal disorders such as GERD, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

Born in Caseville, Mich., Dr. Leipprandt  resides in Pikeville with his wife, Tabatha, a Pike County native. He enjoys golfing, playing tennis and hiking.

Dr. Leipprandt is looking forward to caring for patients at PMC and working with the community.

“I want to serve in Pikeville because there is a need here,” he said. “I want to go and help where I’m needed, and I know I can do that here.”

For more information about PMC’s Gastroenterology services, call 606-218-6360.



Medical Leader | WHITNEY HOGG

Dozens of Pikeville Medical Center employees and their family members attended the 2013 Relay for Life event held at Bob Amos Park on June 14. PMC was a sponsor of the event, which raised approximately $116,000.










PIKEVILLE - June 21 marks the first day of summer and the height of ATV riding season.

Pikeville Medical Center encourages everyone to put safety first when riding ATVs.

Dr. Brandon Smallwood, PMC Emergency Department Medical Director, advises ATV riders to slow down.

“Suppress the need for speed,” he said. “Be smart, take caution and watch for others riding.”

If an ATV accident does occur, Dr. Smallwood reminds everyone to dial 9-1-1. This allows emergency medical services (EMS) to begin the treatment process in route to the Emergency Department (ED).

The EMS calls the hospital prior to arrival making sure the ED staff is prepared for the patient.

According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, from 1982 to 2011, 1,353 deaths occurred due to ATVs in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. About one third of all ATV–related deaths and hospital emergency room injuries involve children.

When riding an ATV, one should follow these safety tips:

•Take a hands-on safety training course

•Always wear protective gear, especially a helmet, when riding an ATV

•Wear over-the-ankle boots, goggles, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt

•Practice correct riding posture

•Children should not ride on adult ATVs

•Children under six should never be on an ATV. Most ATVs have a label detailing the recommended age for that particular model

•Unless the ATV is “2-Up,” do not drive with a passenger or ride as a passenger

•Never use an ATV to carry children less than 12 years of age or more than one passenger

•Do not drive on paved roads or unfamiliar terrain

•Do not drive or ride under the influence (This includes alcohol or any other medication that may make you sleepy or affect your driving ability)

For more information about ATV safety or to sign up for an ATV training course go to http://atvsafety.gov.


PIKEVILLE - The Kentucky Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), an agency of the United States Department of Defense, announced recently that Walter E. May, President/CEO of Pikeville Medical Center, was honored with the Patriot Award in recognition of extraordinary support of his employees who serve in the Kentucky National Guard and Reserve.

According to ESGR, the Patriot Award reflects the efforts made by an individual supervisor to support citizen warriors through flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed.

Ralph Brown, ESGR Area 5 Chairman, presented May the award.

“The Patriot Award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize individuals, companies or organizations who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees, who like the citizen warriors before them, have answered their nation’s call to serve,” said Brown.

May was nominated for the award by Captain Scott Suttles, Operations Officer for the 1st Battalion, 320th Regiment, headquartered in Abingdon, Va. Suttles, Director of Staff Development and Employee Education at PMC, wanted to recognize May for the strong emphasis he puts on the military.

“Mr. May and Pikeville Medical Center go the extra mile to recognize the service of military personnel,” said Suttles.

“I greatly appreciate the support I’ve always gotten from Pikeville Medical Center for my drill dates as part of my Reserve duty. I’m thankful to have a President/CEO who makes a special effort to honor the men and women who serve our country.”

In recognition of Veterans Day in 2012 and 2011, PMC, under May’s direction, paid tribute to veterans by hosting a parade and ceremony for the entire community to enjoy.  Free concerts by Aaron Tippin and Lee Greenwood, country music stars known for their patriotic songs, as well as a flyover were part of the festivities the past two years.

During the 2011 ceremony, PMC dedicated its trauma center as the “Veterans and First Responders Trauma Center.”

“I am honored and humbled to receive the Patriot Award,” May said.

“I really believe it’s every citizen’s duty to support, in whatever way they can, the men and women who defend our nation. Freedom is not free. It has been paid for by the lives of our Armed Forces. Pikeville Medical Center will continue to support our employees who have volunteered to serve our country.”



PIKEVILLE - The 36th Annual National Nursing Assistant Week is June 13-20. This week was created to show appreciation to the nursing assistants who dedicate their lives to the well-being of others.

Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) has more than 100 nursing assistants, working with patients in 13 different departments.

“Our nursing assistants are valuable members of our health care team,” said Debra Parsons, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Services.

“Their daily dedication to quality patient care helps ensure the continued success of Pikeville Medical Center.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program, “Employment of nursing aids, orderlies and attendants is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.”

Mitchell Fowler, PMC Nursing Assistant, said, “Helping patients is the best part of my job.  It is truly a rewarding experience when a patient tells me I have made their stay better, or I have brightened their day.  To know you have that big of an impact on someone makes it all worthwhile.”

Nursing assistants are fundamental to the patients in their care, and are identified by various titles, including: direct care giver, nurse aide, care assistant, hospice aid, In-home care aide, emergency department assistant and resident assistant.

These important workers have many responsibilities.

Some of their daily job duties consist of cleaning/bathing patients; helping patients use the bathroom and get dressed; turning, repositioning and transferring patients; listening to patients and acting as a liaison between the patient and nurse; measuring patients’ vital signs; serving patients meals and helping them eat; and patient transportation.

Mary Ellen Smith, Senior AVP and Assistant Chief Nursing Officer, said, “Our nursing assistants are committed to giving their patients the best care possible.  They are a dedicated group of caregivers who are invaluable to the exceptional care provided for our patients day after day.”

Sources: http://cna-network.org http://bls.gov




Medical Leader | Photo courtesy of Vanna D. Photography

MIRACLE BABY: Young Zane Tackett spent nine days in Pikeville Medical Center’s NICU after he suffered from low oxygen levels. PMC’s NICU provides the best care possible to newborns.

PIKEVILLE - Everyone hopes for a healthy baby, but some newborns are born with conditions that require specialized medical attention.

Pikeville Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is devoted to meeting this need.

“Our NICU and staff are dedicated to improving babies lifes and giving them a shot  at life,” said PMC neonatologist Dr. Matthew Todd Hambleton. 

PMC is the only regional hospital with a delivery service and a NICU.  The unit is staffed by doctors, nurses and support personnel, who work together to care for infants.  A neonatologist is available 24/7 and the NICU has an open visitation policy, only closing during shift changes.

“PMC staff knows that having a parent with the infant as much as possible is comforting to both child and parent.  We encourage parents to talk to the infant and as they progress, the parent is able to feed, bathe, diaper and dress the infant,” Jeanette Sexton, Director of the NICU, said.

Doctors often see that a baby’s recovery progresses quicker with the interaction of their family. It is important to treat them locally, when possible. 

PMC’s NICU offers a transport service for this reason.  Trained and experienced employees will go to area hospitals to transport patients back to PMC for the duration of their treatment. 

Trent and Tiffany Tackett of Stambaugh had their son, Zane, transported to the PMC NICU the day he was born.  Due to low oxygen levels, Zane stayed in the NICU for nine days.

Tiffany said, “The staff treated Zane like he was one of their own.  You could feel how much love they had for the babies. If we weren’t with him, we could call at any time and they would tell us exactly what he had been doing.”

Before a patient is discharged from the NICU, the patient’s family is educated on how to care for the infant at home. 

This includes daily infant care, infant CPR and breastfeeding.

“The staff was so patient and worked with us to learn how to care for him, even how to change his diaper.  It was wonderful to have someone teach us those things,” she said.

Zane is now four months old and thriving.

If you would like more information about the transport service to PMC’s NICU, please contact Jeanette Sexton at 606-218-5274.


During National CPR Awareness Week, June 3-8, Pikeville Medical Center wants to ensure everyone has the information they need to perform hands-only CPR.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death with nearly 360,000 out-of-hospital cases occurring every year in the United States.

When a teen or adult has a sudden cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately receiving CPR from someone nearby, especially since survival rates drop as much as 10% for every minute that goes by without intervention.

“The importance of CPR cannot be emphasized enough,” said Scott Suttles, Employee Education and Staff Development Director. “Irreversible brain damage begins in the first five minutes after a person’s heart stops beating. CPR can buy time until EMS arrives and continues care. In 2010, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommended that by-standers should perform chest compressions for victims of cardiac arrest regardless of skill level. Hands-only CPR is now encouraged to the community in an effort to increase the chance of survival.”

According to the AHA, the Bees Gees’ hit song “Stayin’ Alive” has more than 100 beats per minute, which is the rate you should push on the chest during Hands-Only CPR.

“The iconic song’s beat is an easy and fun way for people to remember the correct rhythm for CPR chest compressions, and make them feel more confident doing it,” said Matt Rountree, Communications Director for the American Heart Association. “If you begin Hands-Only CPR to the beat of the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive’ immediately on a teen or adult who collapses from sudden cardiac arrest, you can double or triple their chances of survival.”

In fact, Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be equally as effective as conventional mouth-to-mouth CPR, and people are more likely to feel comfortable performing it.

A December 2012 study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation found that chest compression-only CPR performed by bystanders keeps more people alive with good brain function after having a sudden cardiac arrest.

PMC’s education department offers Basic Life Support (BLS)/CPR training throughout the year for individuals and organizations in the community.

For more information about training, please call 606-218-3525.

To learn more about the Hands-Only CPR campaign and get ready to save a life visit heart.org/handsonlycpr, facebook.com/AHACPR or youtube.com/HandsOnlyCPR.




Source: American Heart Association


PIKEVILLE - Pikeville Medical Center is proud to announce the addition of Dr. Pio G. Valenzuela II to its Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery practice.  Dr. Valenzuela, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with more than 20 years of experience, joined the hospital on June 1.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I visited PMC, so I kept my mind open,” said Dr. Valenzuela.

“I found everyone here to be very receptive and welcoming.”

Dr. Valenzuela focuses on liposuction, breast augmentation and reduction, breast reconstruction, face lifts, head/neck tumor and trauma reconstruction, botox and fillers, rhinoplasties and tummy tucks.

Dr. Valenzuela received his medical degree from Indiana University of Medicine in 1979.

He went on to complete his residency in general surgery in 1984 at Sinai Hospital of Detroit where he was Chief Resident.

He then finished his residency in plastic surgery in 1986 at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

Dr. Valenzuela completed his post-graduate fellowship at University of Louisville’s Center for Microsurgical Studies, where he focused on reconstructive microsurgery.

Born in Manila, Phillipines, and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. Valenzuela now resides in Pikeville with his wife, Jill.

He is an avid music lover, photography enthusiast and student of Tai Chi and yoga. He also enjoys spending time with his wife taking part in activities like ceramics and pottery.

Dr. Valenzuela is looking forward to caring for patients at PMC and working with the community.

“My wife and I have found the local folks to be truly warm and friendly,” he said. “I see opportunities where I can contribute in a positive manner to this hospital and to this community.”

 For more information about PMC’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery services, call 606-218-6211.



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