Southern Ohio: An area of rich medical history


PORTSMOUTH — Not long before Debbie Daniels was set to turn in her badge to retire as a medical liaison for SOMC, she was contacted by a surgeon’s son who wanted to locate a memorial stone in his late father’s honor. Debbie contacted Diane Applegate to see if she would be interested in helping with locating the memorial.

Both grew up in the area, raised their families, and built their careers in Portsmouth, so they utilized their connections in their search for the monument. The search and the time they spent with community members sparked an idea to gather these materials and highlight the medical history of their hometown.

Southern Ohio is rich in medical history. Most have connections to or have been touched by the care of health professionals from the area. They asked those they contacted about possible places where they could find materials. To their surprise, they were sent to locations that contained boxes upon boxes of history just sitting there waiting to tell the story of Portsmouth’s medical roots.

From there, the project began.

For a year and a half, Debbie and Diane have dusted off the boxes, identified the faces in the photos, and read through notes left by the late professionals. All the treasures they found solidified that Portsmouth, Ohio, is rich in medical history.

“It has been so fun to reminisce on the faces that we remember and see the history of those who were before us,” Debbie said. “And we still have so much to sort through.”

As they continued reaching out to different community members, they would receive additional hospital memorabilia along the way. Debbie and Diane have worked closely with Mary Arnzen of the SOMC Development Foundation, as she also has many connections to the community.

Former president of Mercy Hospital School Alumni Ginnie Wagner had donated many of her items from her nursing career to Arnzen a few years ago, including a Mercy sweatshirt, a badge, an afghan, and other items. From her donation and other Mercy School of Nursing memorabilia that have been donated, Debbie and Diane took some of the materials shared with them to create an incredible tribute, “Nurses: Heartbeat of Healthcare,” which is on display at the Scioto County Welcome Center.

Shawnee State Community College (as it was previously known) Alumni Lynn Chamberlin and Linda Horner graciously donated their first nursing caps to be displayed in the case. Lynn also donated her first stethoscope which she kept throughout the years. They are both current SOMC Nurse Managers who proudly had their caps in their offices before being shared with the community.

“The display they put together is beautiful and a wonderful tribute to nurses who have given back to our community over the years,” Arnzen said.

Debbie and Diane are far from finished with their project. They have meetings scheduled to identify faces in their photos and more boxes to go through.

The community is invited to see the “Nurses: Heartbeat of Healthcare” exhibit at the Scioto County Welcome Center. If you have Southern Ohio medical history memorabilia you would like to share with Debbie and Diane, you can email either of them at [email protected] or [email protected].

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