Thursday, January 8, 2015

Wellness Center Gears Up for Health

Nutrition and exercise experts at the Fauquier Health Wellness Center want to help you kick off a healthy year with the center’s new Gear Up for Health program. The six-week plan will give you the tools you need to make small changes on the way to big ones. Weekly education sessions will tackle topics like “Readiness for Change,” “How to Say Goodbye to Processed Foods,” “Exercise for Health,” “How to Track Your Progress” and “Taking the Stress out of Stress Reduction.”

While learning how to feel and look better, you’ll develop a personalized Master Action Plan, with assistance from Wellness Center dietitians and exercise physiologists. Between lectures, you’ll tackle specific nutrition and fitness challenges designed to motivate and inspire.

LeAnn McCusker, director of the Wellness Center, will join internal medicine physician Joseph David, M.D., for the first talk, "Readiness for Change," on Wednesday, February 4. McCusker says, “Some folks feel sort of obligated to start a new diet every January. But all the best intentions in the world won’t get you where you want to go unless you have a plan."

Week six of the program will feature one-on-one sessions with Wellness Center staff. They'll help adjust your plan and troubleshoot concerns, so you can continue your progress into March and beyond.

The program is available to current and new members of the Fauquier Health Wellness Center. Join in January and receive the Gear Up Program at no additional cost, along with a discount on your detailed fitness assessment and several special gifts. Call 540-316-2640. Last day to sign up is January 31.

Education Sessions
Wednesday, February 4: Readiness for Change
Wednesday, February 11: Say Goodbye to Processed Foods
Wednesday, February 18: Exercise for Health
Wednesday, February 25: Tracking Your Progress
Wednesday, March 4: Taking the Stress Out of Stress Reduction
All lectures will take place at the Wellness Center.

Monday, March 9 to Friday, March 13: Schedule one-one-one sessions with Wellness Center experts to refine your Master Action Plan.

Fauquier Hospital Art Wall Features Photography by Carson McRae

Carson McRae
Fauquier Hospital's Art Wall, on the first floor of Fauquier Hospital above the Bistro, currently features the photography of Carson McRae of McRae Photography

A new Art Wall exhibition is always a pleasure to announce. Since I have been with Fauquier Hosptital, I have seen some beautiful pieces displayed -- watercolors, oil paintings, photography, even handmade quilts.

It's a special pleasure to announce the exhibit for January and February of this year, though, because the artist is also my son. Carson has only been working in photography for a couple of years, and putting together an exhibit of 40 or so pictures was quite an undertaking -- a learning experience for both of us. I have a new appreciation for the artists who graciously provide artwork for hospital visitors to enjoy.

A day or two after the exhibition was up, Carson stopped by the hospital to make a few adjustments to the exhibit. While he was there, several hospital employees were looking at his photos and exclaiming. What a boost for him, to get some unsolicited positive feedback!

As his mom, I'd like to thank Fauquier Hospital for the opportunity it offers local artists to display their work. 

As a completely unbiased observer, I'd like to encourage you to stop by and see the exhibit. It's up until the end of February.

Fauquier Health Electrician Makes Christmas Brighter for Elderly Couple

Larry Weaver, Fauquier Health electrician
    Just before Christmas, Fauquier Health electrician Larry Weaver was driving to one of Fauquier Health's offsite locations on Blackwell Road in Warrenton.  He noticed what looked like a piece of paper on the ground. As he got closer to it and actually passed it, something told him to go back and take a closer look at it.  As he turned around and pulled up closer to it, another vehicle drove pass, it flipped over, but did not blow away.  He got out of the truck and picked the paper up.  It was a bank envelope full of money! 
   The envelope looked pretty beat up, but he could see it was an envelope from BB&T bank. After counting the money, which was substantial, he wondered what to do.  Larry knew that this could be someone’s only chance to do something special for the holiday season or even just to make payments on their regular bills. 
   Larry decided to check with the bank to see if they remembered giving out that amount of money and in those denominations.  Luckily, the bank teller knew exactly who the money belonged to and they were able to place a call to him. 
   The owner was an elderly gentleman that has been very ill and thought his money had been lost forever.  He and his wife were very touched and extremely pleased that Larry was kind enough to make sure that they got their money back. 
   The wife wanted to send Larry something nice for his troubles, which he declined, saying only that he was just happy that he was able to give the money back to its rightful owners.  The bank teller was extremely touched as well. With tears in her eyes, she gave Larry the only thing she could … a mint for his troubles.

First Baby of 2015 Arrives at Fauquier Hospital

Jessica Gerald and Chad Gerald of Front Royal are the proud parents of the first baby born at Fauquier Hospital in 2015. Little Charlotte Ann Gerald was born on New Year’s Day at 4:54 a.m. and weighed 7.05 pounds. She is 19 inches long.

Peak flu season arrives in time for the holidays

Every year the influenza virus cycles through our area and causes its share of coughing, sneezing, feverish misery. And for some -- particularly children, the elderly or pregnant women -- the flu can be very serious. The CDC reports, “Although the timing of influenza activity varies from year to year, peak activity in the United States most commonly occurs during January to March, but there can be substantial influenza activity as early as November and December.”

In Fauquier this flu season, December was a tough month.

According to Dr. Anhtai Nguyen, Chief Medical Officer at Fauquier Health, in December, 193 patients at Fauquier Hospital tested positive for type A influenza and eight tested positive for type B. This is out of a total of 577 patients who were tested. By comparison, in December of 2013, only seven tested positive for type A and one for type B; 205 were tested. That means that in December of 2014, approximately 35 percent tested positive as compared to only 3.4 percent last year. That’s a tenfold increase.

Although it’s too early to say whether the increase is at least partially the result of a vaccine that doesn’t exactly match the particular strain of virus that is prevalent, the CDC does state that, “Influenza viral characterization data indicates that 48% of the influenza A (H3N2) viruses collected and analyzed in the United States from October 1 through November 22, 2014 were antigenically like the 2014-2015 influenza A (H3N2) vaccine component, but that 52% were antigenically different (drifted) from the H3N2 vaccine virus.”

Mary Locklin, who manages the Sterile Processing Department at Fauquier Hospital, said, “It’s always preferable when the vaccine is determined to be a close match with what is ultimately determined to be the most common circulating strain. However, even when the match isn’t perfect, it is believed that the vaccine still affords some protection.”
Typical flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. Locklin said that one of the most common questions she is asked is, “If I have flu symptoms, how do I know if I should seek medical attention?” She said,If a person with flu has difficulty breathing (shortness of breath, etc…) chest pain or significant abdominal pain, confusion, dizziness, or vomiting that won’t stop, they should seek medical attention right away, either with their family doctor or at the emergency room. Individuals with chronic health conditions (and pregnant women) should alert their providers about their symptoms and maintain close communication with their physicians.”
Dr. Nguyen added that, “Antivirals like oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (Relenza®) can shorten the duration of symptoms and reduce the likelihood of complications, so they can be a very important adjunct to vaccination. These drugs should only be used when prescribed by physicians and then only by the individual for whom the prescription is intended.”

Flu Prevention
Locklin, an expert in infection control, emphasized, “I can’t say enough about hand hygiene and its role in preventing the spread of flu. There are so many opportunities to perform hand hygiene; especially in health care, but also for the public. All of us can be more mindful of the things we touch that are commonly touched by others (door handles, elevator buttons, grocery carts, gasoline pump handles, etc…) all of these present opportunities to perform hand hygiene. Many grocery stores have hand hygiene stations and/or stations to access a disinfectant cloth to clean the cart. Good hand hygiene means hands are washed for about 20 seconds, and during that time all surfaces of the hands are scrubbed (friction is our friend).

“Our hands are always touching something, and since many communicable pathogens can survive outside a host for a significant period of time, it’s likely that we will come into contact with what we call in healthcare, an opportunistic pathogen. Even if it doesn’t make us sick, if we fail to wash our hands appropriately, we can unknowingly provide a ride for that pathogen, ultimately transmitting it to another location, where someone else may pick it up.”

The CDC website, at, has an extensive section on influenza, including detailed information on the virus itself and a weekly update on flu activity throughout the nation.

Visiting Restrictions in place at Fauquier Hospital
In order to prevent the spread of flu infection, restrictions on patient visiting at Fauquier Hospital have been put in place. These are temporary measures, instituted in response to an increase of flu cases in our area.

·         Visitors are welcome between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
(Each patient is encouraged to have one care partner, who may visit at any time.)
·         Only two visitors at a time (not including the patient’s care partner) in each patient room.
·         Visitors must be at least 16 years of age.
·         Visitors who are experiencing any flu symptoms will not be permitted on patient floors. These symptoms include: cough, fever, chills and/or body aches.
·         Visitors who are displaying any cold symptoms will be asked to wear a mask.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Nurse at The Villa Pens a Best Seller

Victoria Hester, LPN, co-author of The Murder of Maggie Hume
      At 23, Victoria Hester is a licensed practical nurse at The Villa at Suffield Meadows assisted living facility in Warrenton, Va., and will soon start nursing school at Germanna Community College to get her RN. She also has a 5 year old at home.
   So naturally, she decided to write a book that would require a week-long trip to Michigan and many long hours of research and writing. “I like being busy,” she said. “I don’t do ‘rest’ very well.” 

   Turns out, the months of work have paid off. The true crime book she wrote with her dad, Blaine Pardoe, The Murder of Maggie Hume, is in its second printing, and made the New York Times Best Seller list (for Crime and Punishment books) for October 26, 2014. That’s a very big deal.
   Victoria said she got more than she bargained for when she agreed to write about a 33-year-old murder in Battle Creek, Michigan. Not only did she and her dad develop a closer relationship during the collaboration, she learned some invaluable lessons about writing and researching, and some others about life, family and pain that never goes away.
   The Murder of Maggie Hume tells of the story of a young woman who is brutally murdered one night in her own bed. Her boyfriend is a prominent suspect, but when it is discovered that a possible serial killer was living in the same apartment building the night of the murder, a new wave of inquiries begins.
   The case is still marked as unsolved, and the authors refrain from expressing their opinions, but express hope that the book will lead to new leads and an eventual conviction. “Maggie and her family deserve that,” said Victoria.

   While poring over police reports and talking to people close to the investigation, Victoria said that she and her dad came to feel very close to Maggie Hume. “Here was this girl, about my age, killed for apparently no reason. It bothers me that she never got justice.”
   One of Victoria’s goals was to encourage readers to get to know Maggie, a fun-loving, attractive, small-town girl, the daughter of a popular high school teacher and coach. Victoria said, “I wanted to make the facts and interpretations we were learning though the police reports more readable. Police reports are very hard to read -- like nurses’ notes -- lots of abbreviations.
   “Everyone we met while researching the book was still very invested in this, still emotionally attached. We kept the family in the loop with what we were doing. They asked us not to speak to Maggie’s mom, and her dad had passed away, so her brother John was the spokesman for the family. John came to one of our book signing events. He told us he liked the book. It meant a lot to us that he approved of the way we handled it.”
   The book signings and other events to market the book were exciting, but terrifying, said Victoria. She and her father did TV and radio interviews, lectures and book signings. “We were on the front page for three days in a row in Michigan, but the public speaking was nerve wracking,” said Victoria.
   She said that the mayor of Battle Creek, one of the prosecutors, many of the police officers and a judge all came to the events, as did the woman who was living in the apartment where Maggie was killed. She also said that the prime suspect in the case, Maggie’s boyfriend, also came to one event. “He didn’t talk to us, but I recognized him from photographs.”
   Investigating every detail of the case made Victoria realize that violence against women was very different in the 1980s than it is now. “Domestic violence is much more out in the open now. We know the warning signs and there is more support for women now than there was then. There was in incident before Maggie died where her boyfriend was seen choking her, but nobody saw that as something to be worried about. If that had happened today, it may not have gone unnoticed.”
    What’s ahead for the new author? Nursing school for sure, and perhaps a novel.
    Victoria said she will keep working at The Villa for now. “I love it here. I can’t imagine a better place to work. Every nurse here has great skills, and I love working in geriatrics.”
   For more on Victoria, visit her blog at :

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Couple Marries in Chapel at Fauquier Hospital

Jarett Houk hugs his new bride moments after Jud Fischel pronounces them husband and wife.

The wedding ceremony of Jarett Houk and Emily Howell in Fauquier Hospital’s Chapel was short but sweet. The bride’s mom and stepdad were there for the event.

Emily Howell’s mom Kimberly Lovewell, a patient at Fauquier Hospital, checks out the wedding bouquet.

Jarett and Emily Houk.

Some traditions are essential: The Bistro on the Hill provided the wedding cake.

Kimberly Lovewell of Marshall was disappointed that her daughter Emily Howell had to forego a big church wedding, but was thrilled to be a part of a simple ceremony – even though she was a patient at Fauquier Hospital. Howell married her fiancĂ©, Jarett Houk, in the hospital chapel the morning of November 18. Houk will be leaving for boot camp in January, and the paperwork for their marriage was due with the Marine Corps this week. The couple wanted to be sure the bride’s mom was a part of the ceremony, so arrangements were hastily made to tie the knot in the hospital.

Lisa Spitzer with Fauquier Hospital ran out to buy flowers for the Chapel and a “bouquet” (a small pot of flowers from the Gift Shop) for the bride. The bakers in the Bistro were enlisted to provide a cake and an amateur photographer was located. When Kimberly Lovewell arrived in her wheelchair, all was ready.

Local attorney Jud Fischel was the Justice of the Peace. He noticed that after he declared the couple married, Houk didn’t need to be reminded to kiss the bride.

Lovewell shed a few tears after the ceremony, as she shook her head and said to her daughter, “I can’t believe you are all grown up.” The bride’s stepdad, Steve Lovewell, just smiled indulgently.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Houk met about 18 months ago at a BMX race where he was competing. She remembered, “We were in a bar in Virginia Beach and I bought Gatorades for all the BMXers. I thought Jarett was cute, so I bought him two.” Jarett proposed in that bar a year later, at the same competition, in front of 300 people.

Houk is signed up for a four-year stint in the Marines, but says he would like to make it a career. His goal is to work as a mechanic. Emily Houk plans to return to college in the fall, and train hard for the 2016 Olympics in field hockey. She played as a forward for several years after high school in Scotland, and is eager to make the U.S.A. team. Jarett knows the first few years of their marriage will be difficult because of the frequent separations, but is completely supportive of his wife’s dream. “If she is going to do it, she needs to do it now.”

When the couple was asked if they felt any differently after the ceremony, the bride shook her head no, but the groom answered in the affirmative. “It’s a different level of happy.”