Meet our team
Our Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center Wellness team includes registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs), exercise physiologists, physical therapists and experts in biomechanics and functional anatomy.
Paul Lomas, Wellness Director
Wellness Director Paul Lomas earned his bachelor's degree in exercise physiology from The University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health and an associate’s degree from Midlands Technical College as a physical therapy assistant. Lomas has more than 30 years of experience in wellness programs including cardiac rehabilitation, inpatient and outpatient physical therapy, corporate wellness, health assessments, exercise prescriptions and risk intervention including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Paul works closely with physicians to improve the quality of health care for patients by providing lifestyle programs which address the cause of chronic conditions, not just treating the symptoms.
Lightsey Jett, RDN, Wellness Dietitian
Lightsey Jett, RDN, works as a wellness dietitian with Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center. She earned her bachelor's degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition from Clemson University's Honors College, and completed the Augusta Area Dietetic Internship in Augusta, Georgia. She worked for three years in hospital inpatient dietetics before starting in wellness. Jett has helped patients with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hyperlipidemia, hypertension (high blood pressure) and renal disease. She is affiliated with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Lightsey enjoys triathlons, having competed in over fifteen races including sprint, Olympic, and half-Ironman distances, and has a passion for weight loss, sports nutrition and helping others work towards healthier, more nutritional lifestyles.
Allison Howland, RDN, Wellness Dietitian
Allison Howland, RDN, works as a wellness dietitian with Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center. She earned her bachelor’s degree in food science and human nutrition with a minor in chemistry from Clemson University’s Honors College. She completed a distance-based dietetic internship with rotations in Salem, Oregon; Buffalo, New York; Minneapolis, Minnesota and Ghana, Africa. Allison is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Joanna Stayer, Exercise Physiologist
Joanna Stayer, exercise physiologist, earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from Bob Jones University. She has experience in outpatient cardiac rehabilitation, personal and group training, biometric screening and exercise prescription. Joanna has worked with clients to prepare for and recover from joint replacements, and to overcome hypertension, diabetes, obesity and hyperlipidemia.
Jeffrey S. Hopkins, MD, Wellness Medical Director
Jeffrey S. Hopkins, MD, received his medical degree from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington, where he also completed his internship and residency. He completed a joint replacement fellowship at the Joint Replacement Institute in Los Angeles, and is board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons. He is a candidate member with the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and a member of the South Carolina Medical Association. His specialties and clinical interests include total joint replacement surgery and arthroscopic knee surgery.
Debbie Brown, Senior Physical Therapist
Senior Physical Therapist Debbie Brown received her master’s degree in physical therapy from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and has over 25 years' experience in acute and inpatient rehabilitation, long term care, home health and outpatient care. For the past 18 years, Debbie has focused primarily on the outpatient adult orthopedic population. She has been a Certified Clinical Instructor by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) for over 20 years, is a Certified Geriatric Specialist, is Certified in Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (OMPTC) and is a member of APTA and Orthopedic Section of the APTA.
Jay Patel, PhD, Director of Research
Jay Patel, PhD, currently serves as Director of Research with Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center. He received his bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences, a master’s degree in exercise science and a PhD in kinesiology with specializations in anatomy and sport biomechanics from Auburn University. While at Auburn, he worked closely with the athletics department’s strength and conditioning staff, as well as several varsity athletic teams, as a sport biomechanics consultant. An expert on scientific assessment to improve athletic performance and reduce injuries, Dr. Patel is a guest lecturer and publisher who has worked with professional and Olympic-level athletes. He also has served as a personal trainer for almost a decade, an MMA and Tae Kwon Do Instructor, an instructor of biomechanics and an instructor of anatomy and strength and conditioning. Dr. Patel holds certifications including Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association; Corrective Exercise Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine; and Functional Movement Screening certified through Functional Movement Systems.