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(HUNTINGTON)— St. Mary’s Medical Center was among a select group of hospitals nationwide recognized for promoting enrollment in state organ donor registries in a national campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The campaign has added 400,000 donor enrollments to state registries nationwide since 2011.

St. Mary’s conducted awareness and registry campaigns to educate staff, patients, visitors, and community members about the critical need for organ, eye, and tissue donors and, by doing so, increased the number of potential donors on the state’s donor registry. The hospital earned points for each activity implemented between May 2015 and April 2016 and was awarded platinum recognition through the HRSA Workplace Partnership for Life Hospital Campaign.

Of the 995 hospitals and transplant centers participating in the campaign, only 281 were awarded platinum recognition during this phase of the campaign.

This campaign is a special effort of HRSA’s Workplace Partnership for Life to mobilize the nation’s hospitals to increase the number of people in the country who are registered organ, eye, and tissue donors and, ultimately, the number of organs available for transplant. The campaign unites donation advocates at hospitals with representatives from their local organ procurement organizations, Donate Life America affiliates, and state and regional hospital associations. Working together, the teams leverage their communications resources and outreach efforts to most effectively spread word of the critical need for donors. St. Mary’s worked with Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates on the campaign.


St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center first in state to offer new spacing device to benefit prostate cancer patients

(HUNTINGTON)— St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center is helping to pioneer a new tool proved to protect prostate cancer patients from the negative effects of radiation therapy.

Patients at St. Mary’s are now being injected with SpaceOAR® hydrogel, the first FDA-cleared spacing device to protect the rectum in men undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer. The SpaceOAR System is intended to temporarily position the anterior rectal wall away from the prostate during radiotherapy for prostate cancer, creating space to protect the rectum from radiation exposure.

St. Mary’s is the first cancer center in West Virginia and one of the first centers nationwide to adopt the advanced technology.

“Providing the best possible treatment to patients is our top priority, which is why we are one of the first centers offering SpaceOAR hydrogel,” said Sanjeev Sharma, MD, board certified radiation oncologist at St. Mary’s. “Creating space between the prostate and rectum is an important advance that significantly protects the rectum during radiation treatments, and reduces the likelihood of side effects. Men facing prostate cancer may have some difficult decisions to make, but utilizing SpaceOAR hydrogel during radiation therapy should not be one of them.”

Because of the close proximity of the prostate to the rectum, prostate radiation therapy typically results in some radiation hitting the rectum, which can sometimes cause side effects. The SpaceOAR System creates space and pushes the rectum away from the prostate and the high dose area. Placed through a small needle, the hydrogel is administered as a liquid, but quickly solidifies into a soft gel that expands the space between the prostate and rectum. The hydrogel spacer maintains this space until radiation therapy is complete. The spacer then liquefies and is absorbed and cleared from the body in the patient’s urine.

FDA clearance was granted following completion of the SpaceOAR System prospective, multicenter, randomized clinical trial. SpaceOAR patients experienced a significant reduction in rectal radiation dose and severity of late rectal toxicity when compared to control patients who did not receive SpaceOAR hydrogel.

According to the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer is second only to skin cancer as the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men with an estimated 220,880 new cases and 27,540 deaths in the U.S. in 2015 alone. Worldwide, prostate cancer is expected to grow to 1.7 million new cases and 499,000 deaths by 2030.

For more information about SpaceOAR, call St. Mary’s Radiation Oncology at (304) 526-1143.


Jo Andrea “Andy” Watson, RN, DNP, MSN, CCRN, CPAN(HUNTINGTON)— St. Mary’s Medical Center has named Jo Andrea “Andy” Watson, RN, DNP, MSN, CCRN, CPAN, the director of Organizational Development and Learning.

Employed at St. Mary’s since May 1979, Watson has worked as a nurse in intensive care, open-heart recovery, post-anesthesia care and interventional radiology. She has been the critical care educator since May 1995.

Watson earned her associate degree in nursing from St. Mary’s School of Nursing. She has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from West Virginia University, and a master’s degree in nursing and doctor of nursing practice from Walden University.

A member of the Phi Nu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Watson is a certified critical care registered nurse and a certified post anesthesia nurse.


Cousins joins St. Mary’s Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons

Geoffrey R. Cousins(HUNTINGTON)— Geoffrey R. Cousins, MD, FACS, has joined St. Mary’s Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons.

A native West Virginian, Dr. Cousins received his doctor of medicine from the University of Michigan Medical School. He completed both his internship and residency in general surgery at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, Mich., and his fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Va.

Dr. Cousins is board certified in surgery and thoracic surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

For more information about St. Mary’s Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons, call (304) 399-7530.


Neal named St. Mary’s Director of Volunteer Services

Julie Neal(HUNTINGTON)— Julie Neal has been named the Director of Volunteer Services at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

Previously, Neal worked as an occupational therapist at St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Services and Tri-State Otolaryngology. She is also the co-founder of PATH to the Cure, a 5K walk/run which raises funds for the St. Mary’s Pink Ribbon Fund and the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH).

Neal received an associate degree in applied science from Shawnee State University and a bachelor of science degree from the University of Findlay.

For more information about St. Mary’s Volunteer Services, call (304) 526-1400.