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written with contributions from Brendan O’Hallarn

Surgical ToolSurgical correction of pectus excavatum was a complex and somewhat brutal procedure until Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) surgeon Donald Nuss developed a minimally invasive technique to correct it in the 1990s. In the Nuss Procedure, which is now used around the world, the surgeon threads a curved metal bar under the sternum to push it out into a normal position. The bar is then anchored to the ribs and remains in place for approximately two years so the chest wall can harden in its new position. Then the bar is removed during a second surgery.

To solve a manufacturing problem which did not allow the original tool to be autoclaved (heated to high temperatures), the team reached out to David Kenealy, director of R&D CAMEE. Kenealy and R&D CAMEE’s team supervised by Travis Buchanan utilized R&D CAMEE’s CAD-CAM capabilities to create a tool component that could be autoclaved and thus reused for additional patients.

“They sent us the original CAD (computer aided design) drawings, and some aspects of the original tool weren’t suited for manufacturing,” Kenealy stated. “We worked with them to refine the drawings using their understanding of the surgical world and R&D CAMEE’s understanding of the manufacturing world.”

Initial patient testing of the re-manufactured  extraction tool–a device consisting of two metal handles that latch onto the chest cavity bar–has shown promising results. A survey completed by the surgeon indicated that the Pectus Bar Extractor is easier to use, safer and allows a quicker extraction.

The research team hopes to continue to use the re-manufactured tool for the remainder of the clinical trial, which could lead to commercialization of the device. “We ended up with a great solution that will make a real difference in people’s lives. R&D CAMEE is privileged to have been a part of this tremendous story,” Kenealy stated.

The Research & Development Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency (located in the SVHEC-Innovation Center) has been named one of 22 recipients for an innovation grant totaling $250,000.

The Center for Innovation and Technology in Herndon announced the awards totaling $3.1 million for the second round of the FY2012 Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund on Thursday.

Awarded projects represent the areas of advanced manufacturing, aerospace, communications, cyber security, energy, environment, information technology, life sciences and modeling and simulation.

David Kenealy, SVHEC Director of R&D CAMEE, and Catherine Stevens, SVHEC Institutional Effectiveness Specialist, submitted an application entitled “Use of Southern Yellow Pine as an Alternative Material for the Manufacture of Cross-Laminated Timbers for Use in Commercial Construction.”



 HRHS Adam Harrell (Emergency Services Coordinator)
watches as a med student practices uses SimBaby
to perform an infant umbilical cord procedure. 
The simulation lab in the Center of Nursing Excellence at The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center was recently put to good use by the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) students currently doing clinical rotations with Halifax Regional Health System.

The students, with guidance from Dr. Lovetta Pugh and Dr. Ed Purvis, Halifax Regional medical staff, as well as staff from both the Center of Nursing Excellence (CNE) and Halifax Regional Hospital, participated in five lab rotations during which they practiced numerous clinical skills including central line insertion, power port access, ultrasound, PICC line insertion, chest tube insertion, intubation, baby umbilical artery catheter placement, Foley catheter insertion, tracheotomy change, peripheral IV insertion and animal tissue suturing.

Each station contained a lifelike manikin or model upon which the students could hone their skills.

James Potter, or just Potter to his friends, was introduced to the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) last summer when he provided a project management training course to the staff.  For 18 years, Potter worked for UVA as a management consultant & trainer. He then worked for eight years as a Pharmaceutical Research Associate, providing global training & consulting to clients. For the last two years he has served as a UVA adjunct faculty member providing project management training and consulting.

Question: How did you first learn about the SVHEC and what were your initial impressions?

Potter: I first heard about the SVHEC because my in-laws are next door in Mecklenburg County. Having the SVHEC means having the ability to reach out and provide higher education to the local community, and to meet their needs at a low cost. All of those items are key.

Question: How would you describe the resources & assets of Southern Virginia?

Potter: Southern Virginia has a wealth of untapped human resources that can be used for various things. The issue is how do you tap into them and how do you provide employment and education to them?

Question: How do you think the region benefits from the SVHEC’s work?   

Potter: The SVHEC ends up being a focal point for economic development. If you have a place (like the SVHEC) that’s trying to grow people, it can then support both your current industry and your future industry. It also supports people so they can find employment locally and also regionally. Yes, you can work for the local hospital in South Boston but you’re also within commuting distance of other health care centers.


SVHEC Executive Director Dr. Betty Adams (center) holds the Business of the Year award as SVHEC staff members surround her.

The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center has been named the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce's 2010-2011 Business of the Year. The award was presented to the SVHEC at the Chamber's Annual Meeting and Banquet on March 29th. The SVHEC extends a heartfelt thank you to the staff, partners, board members, and volunteers who made this recognition possible.


Ann Switzer

Ann F. Switzer, RN, MSN, has accepted the position of Associate Director for the Center of Nursing Excellence (CNE) at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC). As Associate Director, Switzer will be responsible for oversight of CNE operations including staffing and budget management, and working with educational and training partners to expand the programs and services available in the Center of Nursing Excellence. The CNE is an initiative of the SVHEC and part of the Workforce Services @ SVHEC division.  

Switzer comes to the CNE from Mecklenburg County Public Schools where she has served as Nursing Director since 2004. Switzer brings a wealth of experience to her new role as CNE Associate Director, including working for more than 10 years as a staff RN with specialty areas in orthopedics, surgical services, renal transplant coordination, and outpatient clinic services. A native of Clarksville, Virginia, Switzer spent 22 years in Florida with successful careers in business and nursing before returning home to Southern Virginia in 2004. “We are thrilled to welcome the return of another Southside ‘star.’ Ann Switzer’s education, experience, and skills are a perfect match for the CNE, one of the SVHEC’s premier signature educational pathway programs,” said SVHEC Executive Director Dr. Betty H. Adams.