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An honorable impact

Nov. 12, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- St. Mary's Medical Center inducted three new members to its Wall of Fame on Nov. 7.

This year's inductees include: Sister Celeste Lynch, who held many different leadership roles at St. Mary's until her retirement at the age of 88; Dr. Charles Turner, a founding member of HIMG who served as chief of medicine at St. Mary's for many years; and Dr. Hossein Sakhai, a neurosurgeon who advanced that medical specialty during a 35-year career and served twice as the chief of neurosurgery at St. Mary's.

"These three people have had a tremendous impact on our health care ministry at St. Mary's, and we are pleased to be able to honor them in this way," David Sheils, president of St. Mary's Medical Center Foundation, said in a release.

The St. Mary's Wall of Fame recognizes the contributions of individuals who have played important roles in the development and growth of St. Mary's Medical Center since it opened in 1924. Photos of this year's inductees will join others in the Wall of Fame Gallery at St. Mary's.

Here is the information that is posted about each of these members in that gallery:

Sister Celeste Lynch

Sister Celeste Lynch, S.A.C. (Mary Lee Lynch) graduated from St. Mary's School of Nursing in 1950, went on to serve as the director of the School of Nursing for 17 years (1959-1976), and later served another 17 years as president of Pallottine Health Services (1995-2012), the parent corporation of St. Mary's Medical Center and St. Joseph's Hospital in Buckhannon, W.Va.

Mary Lee Lynch was born in Bristol, Tenn., on June 19, 1924, and grew up on a dairy farm. Because Bristol did not have a Catholic school, she and her six siblings attended public school. Each summer, however, they visited with the Pallottine Sisters from Huntington who traveled to Bristol to teach Bible history and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. After graduating from high school, Mary Lynch wanted to be a nurse, and, because of her connection to the Pallottine Sisters, she chose to attend St. Mary's School of Nursing, where she was so impressed by the Sisters' work it led her to enter the Pallottine Order. She took her First Profession of Vows in 1947.

Throughout Sr. Celeste's life and career, she continued to further her education. After graduating from the School of Nursing in 1950, she completed a BSN degree from St. Louis University in 1953, an MSN degree in Nursing Administration at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., in 1963, and a master's degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

At St. Mary's, Sr. Celeste, known to be razor-sharp, humorous and exceedingly likable, worked as a staff nurse, a head nurse and a supervisor before relocating to Sacred Heart in Richwood, W.Va., for three years (1954-57). In 1957 she returned to St. Mary's as a faculty member at the School of Nursing, and in 1959 became its director for the next 17 years, holding the position longer than any other director of the program. During her tenure she was known for her ability to implement critical decisions that served to keep the nursing program current and resulted in the only hospital-based program in West Virginia still in operation today. Under her leadership, the first married student and the first male student were admitted to the nursing program, and an affiliation was established with Marshall University, where nursing students could take support classes and receive college credit.

Sr. Celeste left St. Mary's in 1976 to serve as the Director of Postulants at the Renewal Center in Florissant, Mo., until 1986, when she was elected Provincial of the North American Province of the Pallottine Sisters. Traveling frequently, she remained in this position for nine years (1986-1995) before returning permanently to St. Mary's in 1995.

In 1995, Sr. Celeste became President of Pallottine Health Services, where she served another 17 years before retiring in 2012 at the age of 88.

Charles E. Turner, M.D.

Dr. Charles E. Turner has practiced medicine at St. Mary's Hospital for more than 40 years. With certifications in both gastroenterology and internal medicine, Dr. Turner has served as St. Mary's Chief of Medicine from 1973 to 1982, president of the medical staff from 1993 to 1995, a member of the Board of Trustees from 1993 to 1999, and today continues to serve as a courtesy staff member as well as a personal physician to the Pallottine Sisters.

Charles E. Turner was born at St. Mary's Hospital on April 19, 1937. He grew up in Huntington in the Gallaher Village area and had a paper route along Norway Avenue. Influenced by his father, who owned a drug store, and by his Sunday school teacher, Dr. Joseph Boutwell, he knew with certainty from a young age that he wanted to become a doctor. After graduating from Huntington East High School, he entered the pre-med program at Marshall University, where he met his wife, Linda Matheny, and where he graduated with an A.B. in 1959. He went on to attain an M.D. from West Virginia University School of Medicine in 1963 and then moved to Rochester, N.Y., to complete his medical training. After a two-year interruption, in service to the U.S. Navy, he returned to Rochester and in 1969 completed his residency and fellowship in gastroenterology at the University of Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Turner returned to Huntington in 1969 and along with three partners, Drs. Russell Cook, Rowland Burns and William Sheils, formed a medical partnership which soon led to the formation of Huntington Internal Medicine Group. In 1978, Dr. Turner traveled to London to train in a newly developed endoscopic technique, ERCP, and that same year became the first doctor in the state to perform the procedure, which occurred at St. Mary's. The following year, with the strong support of HIMG, the area's first Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory opened at St. Mary's, which advanced the hospital's cardiology program and led the way to open heart surgeries.

For many years Dr. Turner has been a volunteer physician at Ebenezer Medical Outreach Center, where he established a Hepatitis C clinic, and where he also supervises medical residents as part of his duties as Assistant Professor of Medicine at Marshall University School of Medicine. As well, for over a decade his volunteer work has taken him to Nicaragua where he has helped to develop and maintain a nutrition program for an orphanage in Vera Cruz.

Dr. Turner served as President of the West Virginia State Medical Association from 1986 to 1987 and Governor of the West Virginia Chapter of American College of Physicians from 2007 to 2011. He has four children and 12 grandchildren and is a member of various professional societies and recipient of many awards and honors. He gives credit for his long tenure at St. Mary's to the Sisters, who shared in his Christian values and created a compassionate and spiritual place to work.

Hossein Sakhai, M.D.

Hossein Sakhai, M.D., FAANS, FACS, practiced neurosurgery at St. Mary's Hospital for 35 years, from 1965 to 2000. A gifted neurosurgeon, he brought modern neurosurgery to St. Mary's and the region and kept up with the advancements of neuroscience throughout his career. He was a member of Huntington's first neurosurgical practice and served as St. Mary's Chief of Surgery from 1983-1987 and chief of neurosurgery from 1975-1976 and 1982-1992.

Born October 29, 1930, in Tabriz, Iran, Hossein Sakhai determined to become a neurosurgeon at the age of 15 after losing a brother who had just obtained a doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Tehran. In 1956 he graduated from Tabriz University School of Medicine where he was awarded a four-year scholarship to further his education outside the country. After completing a residency in neurology in Tabriz, he came to the United States in 1958 and for over a year worked as an intern at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. Offered a residency in neurological surgery at Vanderbilt University Hospital, he moved to Nashville, where, under the professorship of Dr. William F. Meacham, he received training in neurosurgery as well as general surgery. Soon after, Dr. Sakhai received his certification from the American Board of Neurological Surgery and briefly returned to Iran, where he worked as Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Pahlavi University in Shiraz, Iran.

Upon his return to the United States, Dr. Sakhai accepted a position with an existing neurosurgical group in Huntington and began to practice at St. Mary's Hospital, a place he came to call home for the next 35 years.

While serving St. Mary's, Dr. Sakhai became the first neurosurgeon to introduce or perform many new surgeries and techniques, including stereotactic surgery, carotid endarterectomy, micro neurosurgery, hypophysectomies, laser surgery and the use of intraoperative ultrasound. In 1989 he invented a technique to better control bleeding during scalp incisions, which was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery and became internationally accepted. During his tenure intensive care units replaced recovery rooms for post-operation observations, the Certificate of Need was obtained to build the Highlawn Medical Building, and while Chief of Surgery, St. Mary's was designated a Level II Trauma Center.

Dr. Sakhai is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, a founding member of the Neurological Society of Virginia and West Virginia, and various other professional societies and committees. He volunteers his time and skills in the community, and he has five children and seven grandchildren.